Friday, May 25, 2012

Finances for the Rest of Us

Once upon a time, I had no money skills. I spent all my time scraping by, and any time I seemed to get ahead it just got flushed down the toilet. Car repairs. Unexpected school supplies. Medical bills. Thieving roommates. You know the drill.

I started getting control of my finances while I was working on a $7,000/year income and still covering half of the bills with a $3,000 credit card debt that I was trying to pay off. The tipping point for me was seeing a snippet of Suze Orman's show talking about managing your money, and it got me looking for more information. I stumbled upon Get Rich Slowly.

Along the way, I've read a bunch of personal finance blogs. Books just never quite make sense to me, but blogs are typically written in a much more conversational tone, one where I can give instant feedback through comments--even if I don't, it's still a conversation to me. It helps me process the information better. But through the years I've noticed a lot of personal finance blogs focus on two kinds of lifestyles: That of the Stay-At-Home-Mom working in her home to cut costs so her family can afford everything they need and want; or the office-workers, whether they're working in an office or from home. Sometimes you'd get a little something about being a student, which applied to me a little at the time, but these days that just doesn't apply to me anymore--except the parts that were aimed at students but not really about being a student at all.

The last couple of years, Get Rich Slowly has really disappointed me. The articles are increasingly generic and repetitive. Some of them even going so far as to make offensive assumptions and rude stereotypes. Nothing so overt that the typical reader might notice, but certainly enough that it's put me off. This of course goes hand in hand with my frustration about how modern health and eating advice assumes so much about a lifestyle that so many people simply don't live.

All I can think is that the OffBeat Empire needs to make an OffBeat Money site. Someplace that the typical advice can be given a fresh face with better examples for the rest of us. Those of us who don't work in offices, those of us who choose different styles of parenting than the "standard," examples for the people who choose to stay single whether they choose to travel the world or make an offbeat career for themselves.

Sure, it all boils down to one thing: Spend less than you make. But if I have to read one more article about how you can TOO take lunch to work and put it in your office fridge or buy a mini fridge for under your desk, and the best way to lose weight is to do some exercises at your desk... There aren't enough swear words to express the frustration.

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