Not too long ago, I was poking around the internet, half zoned out while riding in the passenger seat on a mini road trip with Mr PoP, and ran across some commentary on how people seemed to think that personal finance blogs rang false to many of those commenting. Commenters were deriding most personal finance blogs (including ours in particular, which didn’t feel great) for being more filtered than Instagram photos, and for being disingenuous about making money off a blog dedicated to financial independence (or something along those lines).
Honestly, reading it felt pretty crappy and I immediately got defensive. We’ve always tried to be pretty up front with things going on in our lives, while also maintaining a level of privacy necessary to feel comfortable sharing financial information on the internet.
Addressing The Second Item First…
Is it disingenuous to earn the occasional buck from a blog where we are purportedly trying to become financially independent (including independent from blog income)? I’m not sure I’m impartial enough to answer that one.
For us, we have some Google ads on our blog. Hopefully they’re not too intrusive to most readers – and if they are, get an ad blocker because most sites have way more ads than ours! These days the ads throw off <$1/day and the blog being cost neutral is occasionally the only thing that keeps me from insisting we shut it down. We briefly toyed with affiliate links and flirted with the idea of a sponsored post in our blog’s infancy, but earning actual income from our blog was thrown to the wayside years ago as we opted for a more journal-type blog experience here. Which (at least for us) doesn’t tend to have a ton of product placements (unless said products are knobs and pulls on cabinets – but I swear those weren’t affiliate links!).
And how about the first item now?
Are We Disingenuous?
When I first read that commentary, I was in complete denial about using any kind of filter on our lives. But the more I chewed on the thought (and I had plenty of time since we were still 80+ miles from home), I think it’s fair to say we do have a filter. Maybe it hasn’t been upfront for us not to spell it out to the readers and give everyone a shot at deciding whether or not they are comfortable with the level of filtering that happens behind the scenes here. So here goes.
The way I see it, we have 2 main filters here at PoP.
Filter #1 – We avoid being overly specific about our jobs.
When you’re on a financial journey that by design seeks to eliminate the need for traditional employment at some point in the future, it feels unwise to draw too much attention to that by describing our jobs too closely. While we’ll certainly give an appropriate amount of notice when we feel it’s our time to leave traditional employment… why give our employers a multi-year heads up that we might not be there for the long haul? Hence, we tend not to speak out our jobs in much more than a general sense.
Filter #2 – We try to never say anything here that we think will hurt family or friends (and this includes each other as we are both!) now or in the future.
In case you were unaware, the internet is forever. FOR-E-VER!
Some of our family knows about this blog (namely Mr PoP’s parents), but for now, most don’t. Neither of us harbors the expectation that it will be possible to hide it from absolutely everyone we care about from now until the end of time. In fact, there are some friends that Mr PoP in particular looks forward to sharing the blog with to explain our financial journey once we reach our next big transition point.
The last thing we want is friends and family members seeing caricatures of themselves in these digital scrapbook pages when we do finally share it with them!
It sounds trite, but we have always tried to follow my recently departed Gram’s advice – though she had no idea it was for blogging. In fact, I can still hear the words in Gram’s voice. (And I miss her.)
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
You might disagree with Gram’s advice. There are certainly times lately when I’m running counter to Gram’s advice with others face-to-face.
But here on our little corner of the internet? Where emoticons are a poor substitute for connecting with someone emotionally face-to-face? Where we have no desire to attract the attention of internet trolls who choose to spend their free time harassing people? Well, here we’ll stick with Gram’s advice*.
And we’ll try never to write anything here, and try and limit other public writings, that could be construed as hurtful to people we care about.
Maybe that’s a pretty significant filter, but it’s an important one to us.
As far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the extent to which we actively filter our IRL experiences to get to what we publish on the blog. Well, we also filter out a lot of the boring stuff (which is quite a bit of everyday experiences, actually!). But I think that hardly rises to the level of an “official filter”.
* In case anyone is reading into the converse of Gram’s advice, it is absolutely not the case that if we don’t talk about something that we have nothing nice to say on the subject. That should not be assumed in the least.
How do you filter yourself on the internet? Is it disingenuous for a personal finance blog to be earning income via advertisements or affiliate links? Do you think we’re overly filtered here?**
** Okay, maybe don’t answer the last one. Clearly I don’t want to here the answer “yes” here.