A little over a year ago, Russell Bailyn, an investment adviser who crossed the barrier into the blogosphere with his Financial Planning Weblog, contacted me to let me know he was beginning work on a book. As Russell and I were both music education majors in our respective undergraduate universities, I was eager to support his endeavor. I’m happy to report that Navigating the Financial Blogosphere: How to Benefit From Free Information on the Internet was published earlier this fall.
In Navigating the Financial Blogosphere, the author takes twenty-six of the most popular financial questions and dedicates a chapter or two to each. The questions run the gamut from basic financial knowledge to intermediate investing techniques, professional financial designations, and the mystery of variable annuities.
Russell takes a real-world approach to answering financial questions, such as, “Are Credit Cards My Enemy?” and “What Are My Chances of Getting Social Security?” In this book, the author is able to present two sides of a story, particularly when addressing a hotly debated issue. For example, Russell tackles the question of dabbling in real estate as an important part of an investment portfolio. He discusses the pros and cons and allows the reader to decide how real estate can fit into their own overall investing scheme. I applaud Russell for not making many blanket recommendations other than the most basic. He understands that financial advice is personal and the right answer for one investor is not always the right answer for another.
I have not yet mentioned this book’s strongest selling point and what makes Navigating the Financial Blogosphere unique. It’s apparent from the title, however. Not only does the book cover the essential aspects of financial planning, but it is full of references to online resources, all free. These resources can be used by the reader with an Internet connection to research any issue. Many of the resources are personal finance blogs, like Consumerism Commentary, Free Money Finance, and My Money Blog.
Russell goes beyond blogs as well, pointing the reader towards Motley Fool, FinAid, and BankRate. Each chapter concludes with a summary of the online resources available for that chapter’s topic. All of the resources listed are still active as today, and they are the types of websites that should be around for a long time. These summaries function as a filter. One could simply enter the topic about which they wish to read more into Google, but the quality of these results will vary. Russell has picked the best for you.
The methodology of including current websites also provides the author with a reason to publish updated editions periodically.
If you’re familiar with the world of free online information, particularly personal finance blogs, and you feel you are confident in your ability to pick the wheat from the chaff, then you might not be the primary audience for this book. However, if you are just starting to become aware of the importance of personal finance and enjoy online research, this would be an excellent book for you. The value of this book is in the financial advice and information coupled with the best online resources.
Russell’s first paragraph on the hardcover sleeve explains his philosophy in writing this book:
While many of us trust the advice of so-called “experts” when it comes to our financial well-being, the fact is that many of these professionals either aren’t objective enough or simply have an opinion that they want to push on us. This is ironic in that finance is a very subjective discipline, and many financial issues can be resolved by combining a few simple rules with a solid understanding of your own personal preferences.
I’m quite flattered that Russell included Consumerism Commentary as a resource in several of the chapters, and it’s an honor to be mentioned alongside the other great financial resources available for free online. I highly suggest reading Russell Bailyn’s Financial Planning Weblog if it’s not all ready part of your personal finance blog reading.