This September, the Plutus Awards will be coming to the Financial Blogger Conference. Consumerism Commentary is part of a wide community of blogs focusing on personal finance, money management, personal investing, and retirement. Personal finance blogs provide an alternative to traditional financial media, and the audience for this alternative type of media has expanded greatly since I started Consumerism Commentary nine years ago. The Plutus Awards exist to appreciate the excellent writing in this niche as well as the best financial products and services as judged by the community of mostly home-grown experts.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with a small but dedicated group of bloggers in the planning committee, planning this year’s awards and ceremony. I’m excited about the major improvements we’re making this year for the Third Annual Plutus Awards, from the process for public voting to the ceremony itself.
More details about the Plutus Awards will follow. Here are a few great articles written by the bloggers participating in the planning committee.
Kevin McKee will be the host of the awards ceremony at the conference. At Thousandaire, Kevin writes that skills, not education, make you money. Higher education could be in a bubble, like real estate has been. The cost of getting a college degree increases substantially each year, but the financial benefits don’t keep up the pace. The democratic idea of “the best education for all,” resulting in increasing student aid, doesn’t help the increasing cost of the education as well as the overall commoditization of degrees. Here are more of my thoughts on the matter. I’ve written about education extensively.
To the point about skills, there are many ways to acquire skills that directly affect income earning ability, and a traditional education may not be the most effective method of doing so. If you want to earn money from your brain potential rather than your physical labor potential, nothing can change the fact you’ll need the cognitive skills fostered by higher education. Human capital is a sophisticated calculation that takes education and skills into account.
Marissa from Thirty Six Months shares what she learned from her mistakes when it comes to landing your first grown-up job. There are certainly many things I wish I knew about when I was fresh out of college — going back to Kevin’s thoughts about how an education sometimes doesn’t make up for lacking skills (in this case, life skills) — but part of life is making mistakes and learning from them. That’s one of the concerns I have with the financial literacy movement. We can force high school students to listen to lectures with points such as, “Open a Roth IRA when you start your first job,” and, “Avoid credit card debt,” but messages like these are lost on most students. They’ll learn best when they experience the mistakes first-hand.
Tom from the Canadian Finance Blog offers 5 tips for reaching retirement goals. There’s a little in here geared towards Canadians, but those in the United States and across the world — well, the developed world, where “retirement” exists — can certainly apply the concepts to their own country’s resources. Starting as soon as possible is key. That, and choosing low-cost investments, is the key to building wealth most efficiently over the long term (without resorting to riskier propositions).
Miranda from Planting Money Seeds recently wrote about the best summer jobs for teens for Bargaineering. While last summer the economy prevented as many teens from taking summer jobs, the situation seems to be somewhat improved this year. One of my first summer jobs as a teen, not including summer camp counselor, was working for Radio Shack. I didn’t know much about electronics, but I knew about computers. That didn’t help me in the job. And I hated pushing the Tandy Service Plan (an extended warranty) on products we sold.
Jackie from MoneyCrush has some suggestions for pulling yourself out of the doldrums. I have to be honest: the last year or so of my life hasn’t been the easiest for me. The doldrums, or worse, have been relatively long-term. Obstacles were followed by crises which were in turn followed by more obstacles and crises. I surrounded myself with the support I needed, though. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and I’m stronger for it, with, as Jackie put it, a renewed sense of motivation.
J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy recently had a son, and understandably is spending time with him rather than participating in the Plutus Awards planning committee. Prior to the birth of his son, J. Money was contemplating opening a thrift store and offering tips for those who might consider the same. Opening a store-front is an interesting business idea with significant challenges. My teenage Radio Shack experience was my last in retail, but one never knows what the future might hold.
To any bloggers who might be reading this article: Plutus Awards voting will begin on August 1. The finalists will be chosen from among the top vote recipients in each category, but each blog or blogger will be limited to becoming a finalist in only two categories. In campaigning for votes, you might want to be specific about the categories you’d like to win.