Why Personal Finance Blogs Became a Cliché

What topics are trending nowadays in the personal finance blogosphere? Let’s see:

  • Steps on how to get out of debt;
  • To pay off debt or save for an emergency;
  • How to save on utilities;
  • What is more efficient a debt snowball or snowflake (would anyone like a snow shovel?)
  • Why saving for retirement is important;
  • How to stick to a budget.

The more I read, the less I believe that not eating out will increase my retirement savings and will help me stick to the budget while saving on utilities. You get the picture, right?

I believe that because of the enormous surplus, the constant flood of so many blog posts, our writing has become boring. It has become a substitute for Ambien.

I am tired of reading feeble, repetitive blog posts that do nothing but tell me what I already know. Aren’t you?

When I scroll through my reader, my eyes glaze over, and I shut the reader down because I can feel that a painful longing is building up inside me. I long for something inspiring. Exciting. Different. Something that makes me want to comment, that makes me think, question, laugh out loud. Something that is real.

Do We Think That Our Readers are Stupid?

Sometimes I think that we, bloggers, are fearful people. We are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid to be honest, different, opinionated. We are afraid to express. We are afraid to step up to the plate because we think that our readers won’t understand it.

I have huge respect for my readers. I believe that they are smart enough to figure out by now how to create a budget, how to save money, and how to make sure not to get into debt over a six pack of beer.

The personal finance blogosphere is not teaching anything new anymore. We present repeated information, and bundle it with unnecessary words. And we think we are doing great.  At some point we stopped caring, stopped being passionate about what we write. We became the perfect embodiment of cliche:

a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

Even if our readers are beginners in personal finance, believe me they are not stupid. They have life experiences that taught them many of the rules that we keep broadcasting in our blogs. I don’t think there are people out there who do not know what a budget means or what saving for retirement involves.

We undermine our readers’ intelligence, trying to explain to them how to save money on groceries by clipping coupons, reduce gas consumption by using public transportation, and save money for a rainy day because “stuff” happens to people. Most of all, we are wasting their time, and this I consider unforgivable.

No Fresh Ideas to Write About

When we become sterile and sanitized in our writing, we simply run out of ideas.

If you ever have tried to write two-three times a week (or more), you know how difficult it is to come up with something entertaining, educating and refreshing at the same time. It is much easier to take the same old ideas and give it a new spin. The problem is that that spin we are giving is neither original nor fresh.

As an avid blog reader myself, I have to admit that I keep returning to those blogs that have a story and personality behind them. Those blogs show emotion. They are engaging. They are full of life.

Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Embrace your flaws and insecurities. Start showing us who you really are, and you will be surprised by the abundance of topics that will start pouring out of your head. Life is much more interesting than any textbook.

Smart can be boring. Personality and effort matter. Try it!

I am going to stop here. Maybe my expectation threshold is raised to a high level by the number of blogs. Maybe I am just tired. In any case, consider this post my rant of the month. 

52 thoughts on “Why Personal Finance Blogs Became a Cliché

  1. Lucille

    Aloysa, I couldn’t agree more. Alot of the PF and some Self Help blogs out there are pretty run of the mill – except yours!
    I love controversial viewpoints and back stories, packed with emotion, about the highs and lows. Hopefully I can bring a little pizzazz on my guest posts!

    Reply
  2. Michelle

    I definitely agree with you! There’s only so many topics that can be covered in the PF world, and that’s why I like to make my blog more about me.

    Reply
  3. Daisy

    I try my best to avoid the dull topics like that, but I know I don’t always succeed. I’ve sort of shied away from PF topics simply because I am so bored by them – reading them on other blogs, writing them on mine. Now, I post about money maybe once a week – if that – and the rest is about self improvement/my own lief – which definitely alienates some readers but I don’t know. it’s hard to strike a balance.

    Reply
  4. Mackenzie

    I completely agree with you. Even though most of the blogs I follow are PF blogs, I like the ones that inject personality into their stories. Real life stories, examples, and the like, are much more interesting.

    Reply
  5. Money Beagle

    I always try to put a personal spin on my topics, even when I know I’m rehashing the same ideas that others have. Probably not always as successful as I’d like. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    Reply
  6. Carrie Smith

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve been thinking about this exact same thing when it comes to my blog and the last few posts have been going in a different direction. I always share stories from my personal experiences and what I’ve learned through life. But I feel I could do much better and actually write advice (financial or not) that is practical and helps people. Not just advice we already know. I definitely agree with your points here, and I for one, am changing how I share information on my blog.

    Reply
  7. Newlyweds on a Budget

    FINALLY! SOMEONE WHO TELLS IT LIKE IT IS!!

    I always glaze over the “how to reduce debt by doing xyz” posts. That’s not what I enjoy reading. I know how to manage my finances, and I’m not going to do it by living off rice and beans.

    Which is why I prefer to write about our day to day lives and what’s REALLY going on with our finances.

    Reply
  8. Mo' Money Mo' Houses

    I definitely think that sometimes bloggers (myself included sometimes) are afraid to write something too controversial for fear of offending someone or losing readers/followers. Then again, those posts usually garner the most interest. It’s funny I was just thinking something quite similar while I was scrolling through my reader yesterday. So many bloggers’ posts are repetitive and boring, let’s start writing more interesting and thought provoking posts everyone!

    Reply
  9. Jana @ Daily Money Shot

    You always find a way to remind me of why I love you (not like I really need reminding but you know what I mean). Lately I’ve found myself reading most PF blogs to cure my insomnia. It’s a shame, too, because there really are some talented writers who are just writing for SEO and traffic rather than value. It’s pretty obvious when they do it, too.

    That said, I know I try my hardest not to fall into the cliched group. My blog is really personal and I hope it’s entertaining. I do feel sometimes that I’m getting boring and when it becomes more of a drag to write about money than fun, that’s when I know it’s time to shift into a different direction.

    Reply
    1. Poor Student

      I agree completely. I try to cater to students, who are about as much of a beginner as you can be. So I write the basic “don’t abuse credit”, “save what you can”. I try to add humour or something personal to differentiate my blog but I am writing the basic posts for beginners and then evolving to more complex and more personal topics for people who hopefully follow my site for a while.

      Reply
  10. 20's Finances

    Yeah, I agree… I’ve been in a rut lately with seeing boring, uninteresting posts. I do like to read posts that are primarily about the blogger and then relate to the general public.

    Reply
  11. Sean @ One Smart Dollar

    I’ll be the first to admit that I write a lot of basic articles because this is a website that is in the early stages and needs them to be included. Most of my articles are meant for the beginner who is looking for this information. More in depth articles are definitely on the horizon. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Lance @ Money Life and More

    I see both sides but honestly I don’t think PF Blogs are for bloggers. Almost every comment on here and on my blog are from bloggers but I hope that the views from the non bloggers are people who need help with their finances. That is my main audience I hope. Don’t get me wrong I love bloggers and try to put a personal spin on it but I feel I need to cover the basics at some point to at least reference at a later date.

    Reply
  13. Kathleen @ Frugal Portland

    I think we’re all guilty of this, to a certain extent. The easy-to-Google posts bring in the most traffic from search engines, right? And we want more subscribers to click on our ads. So we throw lists in. But the interesting part of personal finance is the emphasis on personal, and hearing other people’s strategies can help.

    Reply
  14. L Bee and the Money Tree

    I don’t want to paint with a broad brush and I hope my male PF counterparts don’t get upset with me for saying this: I feel a lot more women do a better job of writing with panache than say…men do.

    I want to appeal to a large group and as I’m new and still trying to grow my readership I struggle between the boring “posts” and something personal. The personal posts are often my most popular.

    Reply
  15. Michelle

    I disagree. I prefer reading boring, condescending articles that tell me to save more and spend less, Aloysa! There are some intensely boring (and stupid) people out there, and it would be downright RUDE of us to stop posting our redundant dribble. WTH else am I supposed to do when writers’ block knocks on my door? Be interesting and funny? Pfft….eff that. 🙂

    Reply
  16. MrFrugalFrank

    This so very true and on my tiny Blog I tend to focous on many of the same boring topics myself..As Keep Me Off Welfare is just a hobby(Winter so I own a lawn service) I do plan on some income ideas such as renting a spare room or two..maybe even renying out the garage for storage…findind a few other small business plans.. these are just a few things that we are working on as we speak….getting ahead sometimes takes increasing the good old income…stay tuned…

    Reply
  17. Financial Samurai

    I think it’s just history repeating itself. So long as there are new people being born, new people will go through the EXACT same thing as older people.

    I do try and write about new things such as how to engineer your layoff and make a fortune b/c who writes about that? How many books do you see out there teaching us how to get a job? Now how many do you see show us how to quit a job and make money doing so?

    Everything is rational. Write good content, get a lot of traffic and discussion. Write the same stuff, maybe not.

    Reply
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  19. Greg

    Reinforcing Aloysa’s point, most of the comments on this post are as homogenous as the blogs she’s deriding.

    Reply
      1. Financial Uproar

        Wait. So you’re allowed to call other blogs trash and Greg isn’t?

        You have about 35 comments and counting, and they all say the same thing: you can write something simple as long as there’s a personal story attached to it. I hate to break it to you all, but your stories probably aren’t that interesting.

        When I wrote this post a couple weeks ago, I challenged other blogs to step up their game and challenge themselves to write stuff that hasn’t been beaten to death. If this comment section is any indication, I don’t like our chances.

        Reply
        1. Aloysa

          Nelson, where in my post did I call other blogs trash?

          If you don’t find personal stories that other blogs offer interesting, then you either need to stop reading these blogs, or you simply haven’t found blogs that appeal to you. Keep searching, Nelson!

          Reply
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    1. American Debt Project

      Gotta agree with ee…I was just about to suggest you pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald if you want excitement! You have an adventurous soul, Aloysa, and your rational side wants you to get your finances in order all while taking in everything that life has to offer. Although some blogs make that process funnier and more interesting than others, on the whole it is one DRY topic. Get rich or die tryin’ –50 Cent

      Reply
  21. Jacob @ iheartbudgets

    Maybe you should unsubscribe from PF blogs and subscribe to some other blogs that our outside the niche. I know that my wife reads a bunch of homemaking blogs, and I am into nerd culture and cars, so that helps break up the monotony. Seriously, I need to purge my reader as well, because though I enjoy learning about how people are reducing their debt and investing, and how it’s working out for them, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

    Reply
  22. Budget & the Beach

    For me at least, if I read someone’s blog and all I get are tips, I get turned off quick. Because you’re right, most people already know those things. I like to read about the individual and what they are going through…there is something to be learned in that as well. For my blog, I can only do what I feel at the moment, whether that’s appealing to someone or not.

    Reply
  23. maria@moneyprinciple

    Agree; what amazes me is that most new blogs follow a similar pattern – how to get out of debt, frugality, emergence funds…And my all time favourite – spend less than you earn. Great! Nobel prize awaiting! Books seem very samey like this as well.

    Probably this is why I decided early on that my blog will be about life first and then money; rather than money and then life. Or no joyous life at all.

    Reply
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  26. Tackling Our Debt

    Trouble coming up with originial content doesn’t just happen with finance blogs.

    Every post out there on every website is a repeat of something else, unless you are reading someone’s personal diary.

    Tons of recipes are repeated, SEO blog posts are repeated with a twist, travel posts, diet blogs, inspirational blogs, and on it goes.

    How many of us live such busy and exciting lives that we can come up with 3 posts a week of completely original content based on our experiences?

    God how many different diet blogs are out there repeating the same crap and making huge amounts of money??

    Paper based magazines do the exact same thing. You read the same stories in all the women’s magazines each and every month. But people still buy them. Lots of them.

    And the large magazines pay writers huge amounts of money each month to re-write the same generic stuff over and over, cuz it sells.

    You may have had a personal rant in this post but you too basically wrote what the rest of us already know. Most blogs are repetitive.

    Reply
    1. Aloysa

      The main point of my post was not to say that a lot of blogs are repetitive. All I tried to say was that if we, bloggers, try a little harder to be more original and less afraid to express what we really think, we could be more interesting, more prolific and less mainstream. All I want is to see a little more personality and a little more daring context, and less textbook. It is not that hard really.

      Reply
  27. Drew

    Having observed this also, I think I am offering something different with my blog, not for the sake of being contrarian, but because I’m one of the few who serve up PF with a consistent, objective philosophical base.

    Reply
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  30. Evan

    “The personal finance blogosphere is not teaching anything new anymore”

    For the most part it never did! You think no one wrote spend less than you earn prior to 2004ish? Just because it was on paper and not online doesn’t make it new.

    Notwithstanding, I have slowed down my reading of other blogs for the same exact reason. The only ones that keep my attention are the ones that are REALLY personal.

    Reply
  31. Nurse Frugal

    That’s a really good point, I was astonished by how many personal finance blogs there are out there, including mine! It really isn’t that original anymore. I try not to make it solely about finances because you are right, it gets redundant and really boring. So nice to meet your blog 😉
    -Nurse Frugal

    Reply
  32. taxation services

    Well I enjoyed reading your post and I too think that personal finance blogs have become a cliche just like several other things.Although I wouldn’t say that other blogs don’t share something important. Even they have a good set of tips to share with everyone.

    Reply
  33. Don

    You crack me up sometimes (because you are so forthcoming with your writing) 🙂

    Finance by it’s core nature is boring. Inflow must be higher than outflows, or else you’re losing… That’s the entire secret to wealth and money accumulation.

    Personally I agree, I’m tired of read the “top 10 step to save money while riding an elevator” (or some other mundane task), but for some googler (I wonder if that’s a word) trying to research the matter, such an article is godsend.

    I think sometimes we forget that we’re writing for the masses and not necessarily each other.

    So as Bill Clinton said… “I feel your pain”. 😉

    Reply
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  36. Niccolo07

    Financial experts are full of aphorisms, tenets, and other rules of thumb that are designed to help guide you through the perilous world of personal finance.

    Reply

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