The blogger behind Budgets are Sexy once asked if a you had to “have a story” to be a respected personal finance blogger. It was an interesting question on many different levels. I reflected on the number of times I’ve told pieces of my own story here at Frugal Dad, and in my personal life with friends and family, particularly my kids. While I don’t think a story is required to share inspiring thoughts with others, I do think it helps others relate to you.
Without a compelling story you might sound a little like the friend that likes to give marriage advice, but she’s never tied the knot. Or the couple that raise their eyebrows when you discipline your kids, but they never had children. Does that mean people who don’t have kids don’t have valuable things to say about how to raise children? Not necessarily, but it does make it difficult for parents to see them as a credible source of information.
Those examples might be a bit of a stretch. After all, personal finance is a bit of a different animal. One of my favorite writers, Jim Wang from Bargaineering, shares many excellent thoughts on managing money, including getting out of credit card debt. However, he admits that he has never had credit card debt. Does that mean I shouldn’t listen to his advice? Absolutely not. In fact, I’d be doing myself a disservice by not absorbing the information he shares on his blog.
Dave Ramsey is one of my favorite personal finance personalities, mostly because I find his life story compelling. He reached millionaire status early in life in leveraged real estate, lost it all through bankruptcy, and rebuilt his wealth by implementing the debt-free principles he lives by today. My guess is Dave Ramsey would not be as popular as he is without the fact he hit rock bottom at some point during his life. This helps him relate to others in similar situations, and provides them hope that they too can turn around their lives.
Does this mean if you hope to inspire others you should go bankrupt to be more credible? No. It means you should look at your own background, your own life story, to find your testimony. Everyone has some type of challenge in their life, and chances are they aren’t alone. Even those struggling with the rarest medical conditions find comfort in linking up with those dozen others in the world also diagnosed. Technology has made that possibility through applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.
If you have an interest in writing, or doing video blogs, or your own radio show, I would encourage you to give it a try even if you feel you have an inadequate testimony. Whatever you decide to share, be honest with people. You might just find an audience out there for people who have never really struggled with money, but are more interested in the advanced personal finance concepts beyond building savings and getting out of debt.