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7 Independent Personal Finance Blogs You Can Trust

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In just the past few years, there has been an explosion of personal finance blogs, a niche that was vacant eight years ago. Those eight years feel like a generation or two, considering the way the Internet has changed since then. Now some might argue that the blog form is on its way out as the primary means of social communication online, with more efficient or sophisticated methods like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr taking charge. Nevertheless, what started out as a small niche community several years ago is now a thriving but noisy bazaar with more marketers and salespeople than good, old-fashioned information.

I’m not being judgmental. You see advertising here at Consumerism Commentary, and it’s allowed me to earn a living. I hope, though, that regular readers don’t come away with the feeling that I’m trying to sell them something, whether a product or my “brand.” In all that I do, I try to be genuine and authentic, so even if I’m writing about a credit card offer, I do so with readers in mind.

I like reading personal stories or articles with a certain “voice” — something that reminds me that there is a person inside, and that person is intelligent, thoughtful, and not maintaining a website just because she could earn a lot of money by publishing articles with certain keywords. I don’t like gurus, motivational speakers, or writers who assume their audience either needs a lecture or is stuck at a fourth-grade reading level. I don’t like being sold something when I read an article, even if the article was witty or helpful. I choose when I speak to a salesperson; I don’t like surprises.

I’m not normally a negative person, so that’s enough of what I don’t like. I do like knowing that the opinions and thoughts described in articles are not significantly influenced by commercial enterprises, even if they are earning money from the website. I prefer blogs that are still operated by their original owners, because there is a sort of passion that a blog often loses when its founder sells, if he or she doesn’t take special care.

I’d like to share seven blogs that I think, today, feel right for me as a reader. I’m excluding a few of the bigger excellent blogs that you may already have on your list or are now part of a larger corporation. The websites listed below are all, to my knowledge, still owned and operated by their founder. I’m also leaving out some great blogs written by financial columnists and authors, going for the truly independent, non-professional-writer voice, though I suspect one of the anonymous writers below moonlights as a professional financial columnist.

If you read other blogs about personal finance, feel free to leave comments about your favorites or disagree with my picks.

These are in no particular order.

Weakonomics. Philip’s background in economics and IT makes him an ideal finance blogger to me. Note that his background does not include marketing. His grasp on economic issues is more complete than I’d ever expect, or want, mine to be. I particularly like his recent open letter to James Dyson, the vacuum cleaner technology inventor who stars in his own company’s commercials. Also, check out his article here, The Greatest Loss of the Recession.

Pop Economics. While we’re on the topic of economics, let’s not forget Pop. No, he’s not Ben Bernanke in disguise. Pop often focuses on behavioral economics, which I find fascinating — much more than, say, macroeconomics. Check out his articles on Consumerism Commentary, The Wrong Reason to Dollar-Cost Average and Creating a Risk-Free Retirement Plan. Pop thoroughly researches and contemplates his articles, and this provides a lot of value to his readers. Read his article on 2011′s job market, definitely one of my favorite articles of January, anywhere.

Frugal for Life. Let’s switch gears from the economy to the personal. Dawn’s been writing about her frugality since at least 2004 or 2005. Frugal for Life started as a way for her to organize all the ideas she was reading about frugality, a concept she fell in love with after reading The Tightwad Gazette. Frugal for Life is more than just a compendium of tips for saving money, it has a personal touch, without the feel of most “frugal” blogs that are more interested in sharing “deals” (ie., ways to spend money), that make you wonder whether they’re being paid by Wal-Mart or some other company to encourage consumerism. Here are 41 things that Dawn has learned from living frugally.

Blonde and Balanced. You may think Amber is new to this scene, but she had been blogging about money under a different title (Carrie… on the Cheap) for a while before coming back to take the blogosphere by storm. Her writing flows naturally and her personality shines through. That’s a refreshing approach at a time I’m constantly reminded that “content farms” are taking over the Internet. I am not the only one who sees value in Amber’s writing; she has unsurprisingly picked up freelance gigs everywhere I look. Here is her excellent short article, Who Cares If Resolutions Don’t Work?.

Bad Money Advice. Unfortunately, Frank Crumudgeon has been spending most of his time lately looking for a new job, so we have not been treated to many new articles. When he returns, which I hope he does, readers will enjoy more of his critical look at mainstream financial advice, including stuff I write about here. He’s commented on and criticized a few of my articles and ideas on Consumerism Commentary, which is always welcomed and encouraged, and it got my attention. I like his criticism of The Millionaire Next Door and the discussion that followed, as well as his contribution to Consumerism Commentary, Thinking is Not Enough.

Well Heeled Blog. The author says she has a nerdy interest in personal finance, but her articles don’t reflect nerdiness at all. Even though she freely admits a love for “stuff” like shoes, she is taking a stab at minimalism. I have no criticism of either approach to living, and I think it’s great when people have an open mind and try new approaches, particularly when they can share their experiences publicly. Her recent article about non-traditional engagement rings inspired a good discussion, and here on Consumerism Commentary, she asked if men paying for dinner is more romantic. The intersection of relationships and money always fascinates me; while I’m not private about my finances, for the most part, I tend to keep my own relationship experiences to myself.

Psy-Fi Blog. I minored in psychology for two semesters in college until I realized that I had no time for a minor. I still find psychology fascinating, and I wish I knew more about the subject. That’s why I like the Psy-Fi Blog. Psychology plays a significant role in personal finance and the decisions we make, and I am interested in reading more about why human brains function the way they do. More importantly, the best information we can take away is how we can use what we know about psychology to make better decisions with our money. I have enormous respect for a writer who can work Schrödinger’s cat into financial decisions, as he did in his recent article, Quantum Consciousness is Market Uncertainty.

I know that when reading any of the above websites I won’t be distracted by the thought that there are ulterior motives at work. I don’t mean to say that other blogs are not trustworthy; I’ve picked just a few of my favorites to highlight a small number of blogs that I like and that I believe deserve attention. What are your most trusted personal finance blogs and websites?

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published January 27, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Alotta Lettuce

I usually like my personal finance blogs to be a little more personal and a little less finance. Like you I love both Blond and Balanced and Well-Heeled, for that very reason. I think they strike a great balance by giving insights into their own lives. I also enjoy Give Me Back my Five Bucks, The Girl with the Red Balloon, Fabulously Broke, Budgets are Sexy, Bargaineering, Punch Debt in the Face, The World of Wealth, Get Rich Slowly and Free Money Finance.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

All great blogs, as well!

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avatar Nanette Byrnes

I’m less drawn to personality, more to insight on broader topics financial. Pop Economics is great and I’d never seen it so thanks much for that. Others I really like in that vein are Monevator and ObliviousInvestor. On your personalities list of the future, I would nominate Barry Ritholtz and Paul Kedrosky for consideration. Cheers!

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avatar gotr31 ♦224 (Cent)

I love reading about finance with a generous amount of personal insight. I will definately check these out! I have found too many of the deal type blogs lately and need to go back to reading the ones that inspire and help with keeping my money, instead of spending it.

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avatar faithfueledbennetts ♦264 (Nickel)

Well, this blog is one of the first financial blogs I have read, so I am not familiar with the others. I do read Surviving & Thriving, which is actually how I found out about this one. But, besides that I have never heard of the others. So, in comparison, this one is the best for me :) I really do love how versatile the topics on here are. Very helpful!

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avatar Investor Junkie

Frank is such a Curmudgeon, but love his posts. Please come back Frank!

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avatar Dawn

Geez, Flexo! Thanks for thinking of me and I have to agree with yor other suggestions, except weakonomics, never got into their way of looking at things- seemed kinda cynical to me. But then that is why there is something for everyone on the web

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

Hi Dawn! Well I have a cynical streak in me, internally, occasionally, so perhaps that why I connect.

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avatar the weakonomist

Yeah, Weakonomics sucks. I would say he’s more arrogant and narcissistic than cynical.

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avatar nickel

I totally agree. ;-)

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avatar Evan

That’s weird so do I! lol

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avatar Well Heeled Blog

Flexo, you just made my day!! Thank you so much, you’re one of the first bloggers I started reading, and I’ve always been inspired by how successful you’ve become but still seem very “real” and grounded.

Re money & relationships – Is this why you gave me Valentine’s Day for my turn to host the Carnival of Personal Finance? Hmm? :)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

Could be… or it could be a coincidence… but most likely it’s me scrambling at the last minute to get the right combination of hosts and place everyone into spots when they’re available.

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avatar Growing Rich Kids

Hi Flexo,

You summed it up so well. There’s got to be a person behind the blog passionate about sharing thoughts on personal finance, not just trying to get me to open my wallet.

Thanks for sharing such a great list and pointing us to additional resources,

Suzanne

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avatar Ben

I’d also vote for Wealth Pilgrim and Good Financial Cents. Although they’re both run by financial professionals, I think they bring personality to their coverage of personal finance.

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avatar TakeitEZ ♦549 (Dime)

I like Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to be Rich”. It is definitely different from most personal finance blogs but I believe it is an different way of looking at personal finance, particularly focusing more on increasing how much you earn than on how much you spend. Your blog and his are my two favorites at this time, but I will definitely check out the blogs in this article. Keep up the good work.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

Thanks, TakeitEZ! Ramit’s a good guy with a legion of fans.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

I second this blog as being one of my two favorites (along with fivecentnickel)

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avatar nickel

IMHO, The Finance Buff (www.thefinancebuff.com) is one of the smartest personal finance blogs out there.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

thanks for the suggestion. it looks great!

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avatar 4hendricks ♦248 (Cent)

Thank you for the info – A lot of these hit home with me.

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avatar DonnaP

I’m surprised you didn’t include Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s site (www.gailvazoxlade.com) since she’s becoming so well known for her in-your-face tell-it-all style. She’s the host of Til Debt Do Us Part on CNBC, and she blogs daily. Granted, she’s Canadian, but boy, does she make a lot of sense. And she doesn’t pull her punches or cow-tow to anybody. Have a look for yourself.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

I purposefully excluded published authors from the list… I’m working on a separate list that includes financial writers, columnists, and “personalities.” Thanks for pointing me to her site, I had never seen it before.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

thank you for the list flexo, it is always great to find some more resources that are out there…especially when they are suggested by already trusted sources. i would also like to add My Money Blog to the list. a nice mix of information can be found there.

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avatar Stella

I have to say that I hadn’t heard of most of the blogs on your list, so thanks for giving me some new writers to check out. I also really appreciate the fact that females were so well represented on your list. I have a pretty extensive list of blogs I check in on regularly (including yours of course!): Surviving and Thriving, Budgets are Sexy, Bargaineering, Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, Frugal Dad, Lazy Man and Money, The Dough Roller, The Digerati Life–to name the ones that immediately come to mind.

Like you I most enjoy personal stories, a unique voice and posts that provoke thought–and discussion.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

I only knew about Pop..thanks for the other recommendations

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

Some these blogs aren’t ones I’ve heard of. However, I found I’m a big fan of Surviving and thriving and the Living with Less columns by Donna and her daughter’s blog as well. But I always appreciate a new blog to read since there’s always another tip that I may be able to use to save some more money in ethical ways.

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avatar brokeprofessionals

Excellent choices for blogs that fit the style your talking about. I have a similar taste and my wife and I try to reflect that on our blog as well. I think a lot of the problem is that people learned personal finance can be a “lucrative” niche, so it filled up with a sizable minority of unscrupulous bloggers, who either a) only want to make money; b) Do not know what they are talking about; or c) Both. I appreciate blogs that could make even more money such as yours but refuse to because they maintain high standards.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

Well said. It was actually a blog article that I read by Donna Freedman on MSN that set me on my current path. Through those blogs and several others I realized that I could be debt free. I could still have a life and keep doing things I like. I am happy to report that 4 and half years later I was Completely debt free, house included, and still had a life. I love articles that help me along in my life journey.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

Same here. I read Donna Freedman on MSN and here I am. I enjoy her Surviving and Thriving and really enjoyed the Smart Spending boards on MSN Money. Keep up the good work, Flexo.

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avatar Pam at MoneyTrail

I am a big fan of Len Penzo dot com, MoneyNIng and Get Rich Slowly.

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