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The Power of “Personal” Personal Finance


If you’ve ever visited here before, you’re well aware that I’m not really a personal finance blogger. In fact, I rebranded the site last summer to reflect the fact that I pretty much fail when it comes to writing about money all the time – I just like to write about random things that sometimes happen to include finance. No matter how hard I try, I can’t bring myself to write (or read) boring stuff like “how to save on groceries” or “how to fill out a deposit slip.”

Even when I did focus on my finances more, I never really fit in with most of the people in the PF blogging community. A lot of people think “debt bloggers” are useless or that personal blogs aren’t worth reading. It was very discouraging to think that I was automatically excluded just because I wrote about my experiences with impulse buying and overspending – I almost quit blogging altogether, but ended up stepping back from the PF world to kind of do my own thing.

Anyway, around 6 months ago I received an email from a reader struggling with credit card debt, a bit of a shopping addiction, and a lot of frustration about her financial situation. She wanted to know how I managed to change my behavior without giving up or running out of motivation – at that point, her attempts to regain control hadn’t gone too well. My response to her detailed my process of taking little tiny steps instead of trying to impose a bunch of strict rules; that’s what I had to do in my own life to get my spending under control.

The reason I remembered this is because she emailed again this week. I hope she won’t mind me sharing part of her message:

When I was searching for answers it seemed like the people I knew in real life and many of the PF blogs I read talked about a level of discipline that I didn’t think I could ever achieve. It felt like whatever I tried just wasn’t good enough. It never occured to me that there was more than one way to go about improving my relationship with money. After hearing how you were successful I started making smaller more short term goals. After having a series of positive experiences I was more enthusiastic and optimistic about changing our money habits.

This reader and her husband have managed to work together, pay off a ton of debt, and (most importantly) find ways to do the things they want without taking on new debt. Which is exactly what I set out to do when I started this blog over 2 years ago. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to know that my story was helpful to another person who is now making amazing progress in her own journey.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget that some people do come here looking for help with debt, spending, and other problems that the average PF blog either ignores or covers from a “holier than thou” point of view. I catch myself thinking no one would be interested in my finances now that things are more stable in my life. And now I think that might be a mistake on my part.

Whether or not some people want to admit it, there is power in shared experiences. Whether it’s a financial issue or a parenting problem or a life situation, most of us need to know that we aren’t alone, that someone understands where we are and what we’re going through.

Maybe it’s time I stopped caring about my place in the PF community and started finding my financial writing groove again? I don’t know. I just know that receiving that email was the highlight of my week, and it reminded me why I used to enjoy writing about money. Well, sometimes anyway. This stream of consciousness to be continued once I ponder some more…

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Great read. I too blog about finance and share my debt story but am not a branded PF blogger. How wonderful that your story resonated with someone and you were able to help them. Quite inspiring! And good for your reader for recognizing she would struggle with conventional advice and took it upon herself to do what worked for her. That's what I had to do and it's not easy.

  2. I prefer reading blogs about people’s personal experiences with debt and/or finances. It gives it more or a “real” feel and when I read the PF blogs specifically written to “help” people I usually skim through most of it. How many times do I need to read about “ways to make money online” or “ways to pay off debt” My blog is only about my personal experiences and I started it when I was $38K in CC debt and wanted a place to keep myself accountable.

  3. bluecollarworkman says

    I always like your pf stories/posts because they're real. I can hear what you're saying and see that I do some of the same sh!t, or at least did in my past. I get tired of the posts that talk about what you should do, and give a list of things to follow… they make it seem like if you don't get rid of all debt in 5 months by working 10 jobs and spending zero dollars, then you're a failure. I hate that kinda thing. Your stuff is cool because it's realistic. Make little changes, start to see little results, and then your changes will stick forever. And unless someone is single with no dependents, it's not realistic to drop everything and tackle all debt in 1 month. My daughters need new clothes, sports equipment, my wife needs to pay for her nursing class, my truck needs repairs, we need food, etc. Sometimes the pf community doesn't address REAL LIFE. But you do, Which is why you're cool and why I keep coming back. Your money posts are always great, whether it's remembering old stuff or bringing up new stuff.

  4. debtroundup says

    I blog about money and debt, but I try to put my own personal spin on it. You need to write about what you enjoy and what you are passionate about. Putting your personal story and things that keep you interested is the way a blog succeeds.

  5. I don't mind you sharing this at all. I think the most important thing that you helped me change was my perspective. When I accepted that I needed to make changes that were best for me even if they didn't match up with what others were saying I started to have success. For example, most people say stay out of stores, don't buy anything you don't need, etc. That's pretty sound advice. The only problem is that it was so extreme compared to what I was doing I'd go for a while and then I'd have a binge of epic proportions. Now I look all that I want. I wait before buying anything and I must be able to pay for it without new debt. For whatever reason this works for me. I am buying about 30% of what I was. I know this could be better and maybe at some point it will be, but I'm not in such a hurry to be "perfect" anymore. Thanks again Andrea. I hope you do continue to write about finance because I really enjoy reading your point of view.

  6. Yeah, what bluecollarworkman said! You rock, Andrea!

  7. I like your view on handling money. I happen to be one of those people who really can cut expenses to almost nothing, and stay on a minimalist budget long term, and be happy with the situation. My husband, not so much on the extreme frugality. Your blog is one of the few that is able to explain how to make those one step at a time changes, so that I can see how it works, and explain to my spouse a new idea for getting expenses under control. Thank you for helping bridge that gap.

  8. The shared experience has been 99% of the reason why I've gotten so much better with money. It doesn't matter if you don't fit anywhere in particular, you're sincere and honest and people respond to that. I always make time to read what you're putting down 🙂

  9. I enjoy reading a bunch of different personal finance bloggers who range from dry math to flowery theoretical frugality. I like it all, but I really identify with folks who haven't figured it all out, because that's where I am too. I love being encouraged by the bad-assity of Mr. Money Mustache, but I think folks also need to see someone at a different place in the PF journey. It doesn't really matter what you call your blog anyway, just have fun with it and keep spreading wisdom!

  10. My biggest problem is that most PF bloggers have a level of MONEY I don't think I can ever achieve…

  11. I prefer reading personal blogs, whether about finances or otherwise 🙂 Even the situations I can’t directly relate to (like credit card debt), I still find the thought process and decisions interesting. My finances are pretty boring, though, so I could never just write about money!

  12. This hit close to home. I love personal finance blogs. I read them but rarely comment because most are out of my league when it comes to finances. I blog about my debt and was thrilled to hear someone else say they feel like they don't fit in. I feel exactly the same.As others commented, it's the personal stories that are inspiring. You do a great job. Love your blog!

  13. studentdebtsurvivor says

    "there is power in shared experiences" absolutely! And that's why I enjoy reading blogs like yours. For me, it's more about reading personal experiences and getting to look into other people's lives (good, bad and ugly) that I like. Like you said, anybody can write a "10 ways to save on groceries" post, but I want to know about people's person buying habits, splurges and lessons they learned along the way. Real life, is much more interesting to read about then numbers and theory (to me).

  14. This is so encouraging! Gotta keep doing what you're doing. Just do you, is what my husband always says, and he is so right. You never know who you might impact!

  15. suzie74osu says

    This was an up-lifting post to read today (I've been sick with the flu). It does feel great when we can help someone else just by sharing our own experience. I always look forward to reading your posts. Keep doing what you're doing.

  16. I say write about what you want and don't worry if the pf bloggers don't like what you have to say. If they don't like what you're writing or your styles they don't have to read it 🙂 I'm sure you can help a lot of people out there.

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