Who Can You Trust?
We had to answer an important question when taking control of our own finances. Who do you trust for financial information?
We’ve been thinking about that questions as we’ve been trying to increase our readership and spread our message to a wider audience. We’ve recently been featured as the introduction to JL Collins’ Stock Series, in a guest post on the White Coat Investor, and I was interviewed on the DoughRoller podcast.
Despite these successes, we’ve hit some roadblocks with more mainstream sources and even some bloggers and podcasters. The biggest pushback that we’ve received is that we choose to blog anonymously.
How Can I Trust You If I Don’t Even Know Your Name?
When we started to take control of our finances a few years ago, we had no idea where to turn. We weren’t completely ignorant. However, we had always had only a surface level knowledge of finance, investing and retirement planning. It seemed everything we read and saw on the internet or from mainstream radio and television was saying the same thing.
Finally, we found the world of online blogs. Among the ones that were most helpful to us were a community of financial independence/early retirement bloggers who blogged anonymously. Some were more entertaining or inspirational. Some were into hardcore technical issues. Most were a blend.
Others had names like the FrugalWoods that told a bit about their story (using frugal living to retire early to a homestead in the woods). I guess that is the path we took: early retirement is an overwhelming project (like eating an elephant), it must be tackled “one bite at a time”.
Other blogs just seemed weird. We met a guy who goes by J$ ( Jimmy$?, Julio$?, Jerome$?) who thinks that Budgets are $exy (I don’t know what is sexy about them). Our current favorite blog is GoCurryCracker, though I have no clue what a curry cracker is or where it is going.
Aside from the weird names and anonymity, all of these blogs had something in common. They were actually saying and doing something different. They were showing that if you followed a different path with your finances, you could give yourself the freedom to do something different with your entire life.
Turning Conventional Wisdom on Its Head
Conventional wisdom is always to save 10-20% of your income. These bloggers were saving north of 50%.
Conventional wisdom is that investing is hard and scary. You should hire a professional. These bloggers were writing about educating themselves and taking control.
Conventional wisdom is that in life, only death and taxes are inevitable. While none of these blogs has led me to the fountain of youth, I’ve certainly changed my view on taxes!
Conventional wisdom is to retire at 65. Early retirement is 60 or 62. The bloggers were redefining retirement and planning to leave the rat race in their 30’s or 40’s.
Conventional wisdom is that to become wealthy you must make a ton of money. All of these people had stories similar to our own that we could relate to.
I admit that at first I didn’t trust much of what I read. I had serious doubts about taking investing and tax planning advice from some anonymous stranger on the internet, so we did our due diligence. The investment approaches advocated by these bloggers were consistent with the current academic research. We discussed some of the tax strategies we read about with a CPA friend. She confirmed that everything was legit.
These blogs were so helpful, inspiring and valuable we could never pay these bloggers back. We decided to start our own to pay it forward.
So Why Not Just Tell Us Who You Are?
That is a question readers of this blog may have. I admit, I did too when discovering these other anonymous bloggers. There are many reasons for us to keep our blog anonymous at this point. Here are just a few:
- We both are still working because that is what we have found to be the most efficient path to financial independence. At the same time, we’re writing about our plans to quit our jobs in about 2 years. Since we haven’t finalized our exact plans, we don’t think it makes a lot of sense to announce our intentions publicly.
- We want the freedom to write whatever we want. The tone of our blog is overwhelmingly positive, and we want to help others to take control of their finances and their lives. However there will always be those that take our writing as critical, offensive or condescending or become jealous of our situation. Staying anonymous saves us another headache of dealing with those people once we shut off our computer.
- Our writing is very personal. Staying anonymous allows us to share many personal details of our story that we may not be comfortable sharing otherwise due to concerns for the safety and privacy of our family.
Should You Trust Us?
Quite frankly, we don’t think you should trust anyone blindly. That includes us or any other bloggers. It has nothing to do with whether or not we reveal our identities.
There are many people in the media and financial industries that will prey on your trust and take advantage of it at the first opportunity. There are also many that simply are incompetent. We’ve shown what happened to us when placing our trust in one.
Our advice on who to trust is quite basic.
- Consider any ulterior motives or conflicts of interest.
- Be weary of anything that sounds too good to be true (it probably is).
- Be weary of one size fits all advice. Personal finance is personal.
Once you’ve made it through these steps, double check everything with other independent sources. Do your own due diligence.
Remember, if you don’t want to be average, you must take actions different than the average person. All of these bloggers are and so are we.
There are many factors that will determine whether someone is trust worthy, honest or giving good advice. When determining these things, whether someone is willing to share their personal identity is pretty far down our list.
What are your criteria for deciding where to get your financial advice? Who do you trust? Does our blogging anonymously present any issues with trust or credibility in your opinion? Please share your thoughts below.
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net