Financial Literacy

Back to the basics of personal finance

Lately, it seems like more and more people are turning to the internet to obtain their financial advice, and the growth in the number of personal finance blogs can certainly attest to that.
Most personal finance blogs have defined their own niche, from sharing different ways to save money, or learning how to invest your money. Some bloggers dig a bit deeper and explore more specific topics like retirement planning, dividend investing, or real-estate.

Standing out from the crowd

To stand out from the crowded space that is becoming the personal finance blogosphere, many bloggers try and avoid basic topics that have already been covered to death on other blogs. They look for new ideas to share that are both thought-provoking and controversial to help get them noticed.
There’s nothing wrong with presenting contrarian views, it wouldn’t be much fun if we all just agreed on everything without debate. But the problem with avoiding widely covered topics is that you’re ignoring 90% of the pillars that make up personal finance. Good financial advice starts with the basics of not spending more than you earn, having some short term and long term financial goals, and then saving a portion of your income to help you achieve these goals.
Yet we often believe as personal finance bloggers that most of our readers already understand the basics so we feel we need to give them something more. I can see why they feel that way since most new blogs are typically only read by other bloggers until they build a following of other readers. It’s understandable to want to show other bloggers that they’re not just rehashing standard personal finance advice that can be found on every other blog.

Getting back to basics

As I said earlier, more people are looking online for financial ideas and advice. They are looking for answers to solve a specific problem. If you have written helpful articles that solve their problem they will likely find your article in their search engine results. If they enjoy your unique point of view, they might stick around and become regular readers. People probably aren’t searching for what kind of superhero costume you think your favorite blogger should wear, or why your investment account is like molten lava.
True, there might be thousands of articles written about how to save on auto insurance or why you should cut television out of your life. But none of them were written by you with your own unique interpretation of the topic.
Let’s face it, articles around the internet that get the most engagement from readers are about basic personal finance topics that people are still divided on. Joint or separate finances for couples, how much should you have in your emergency fund, and how to save on your grocery budget will always be more popular than how to invest in Chinese paper companies.
I guarantee that you have an opinion about the best way to approach even the most basic personal finance topic. If you want to be controversial and stand out, take one of those basic topics and share your own opinion on how to do it better, or explain why it’s a waste of time.
Be unique, but don’t ignore the basics of personal finance. We’re all looking for ways to improve our finances, and some of the best ideas are often the simplest ones that we overlook.


  1. krantcents

    I think a financial blog needs to express a point of view. Readers are looking for answers, but they want a point of view too.

  2. TJ

    Could agree more, Robb. There are better ways to stand out than to be contrarian for the sake of contrarian. Like improving upon the common method…

  3. Echo

    I agree that you need a unique point of view, but use it on all topics and don’t stray away from common subjects because they’ve been done by other blogs.

    @Brave New Life
    Thanks! Improving on the common method is a great way to spin an old subject and make it your own.

  4. Nelson Smith

    What’s wrong with writing about Chinese printing companies? Just because it isn’t popular, that makes it bad?

    You do realize that some of us are in this game for reasons other than pageviews, right?

    • Echo

      Nelson, to be fair I said paper companies, not printing companies.

      I got the idea after talking to my mom about new post topics and she didn’t want to write about a particular subject because she’d seen it a thousand times elsewhere.

      My point is, just because its been written before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about it too. I think everyone’s pf blog should have at least one post about each of the basic pillars of personal finance. Even though they’re cookie cutter topics, you can still make them unique.

      PS – If I were in this for pageviews or for money, I would have quit months ago.

  5. Celesta Financial

    Basic financial advice on how to save more and spend less money will always be popular. It may also be helpful for some of us to know about new tax credits. For example see our blog at
    Other ideas of interest may include some safe ways to invest money in these days of super low interest, how to have a guaranteed retirement income, how to take advantage of government grants for education savings plans, etc.

  6. Janet Hutchins

    Spend less every month than you earn. The difference is savings, and that’s what you’ll spend when you stop earning. How’s that for basic?

  7. Konick

    Really great and helpful post about the basics of personal finance but there’s something i wanted to tell that some thing is not right like spend much get much thats my system … what do you say?

  8. Financial Freedom Advantage

    I think you can never say too much about the basics. It seems like most people need to hear about getting out of debt, saving money, etc. It doesn’t hurt for them to hear about it from a variety of sources using different voices.

  9. Jack

    I agree with you about trying to avoid the common-placed topics everybody tackles about personal finance. It’s much better to be specific, to speak about a certain move you did to improve your financial life, like: the stocks you bought, the way you save for the retirement, the credit cards you think to be best, etc…

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