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Finances & Money Frugality

Blogger Showdown: Clever Dude VS Frugal Dad!

J Money over at BudgetsAreSexy.com just posted Blogger Showdown #9: Clever Dude vs Frugal Dad!Head over to check out our answers to J’s questions, and consider voting for me at the end of the article. We don’t win anything other than pride over our reader loyalty, and honestly I wouldn’t feel bad about losing to Jason from Frugal Dad.

About J Money and BudgetsAreSexy.com

If you’ve never read J Money’s articles before, I highly suggest bookmarking his site or subscribing to his RSS Feed. I’m proud to say I can count J Money as a personal friend IRL after meeting him in person at a few PF blogger happy hours and having extensive online chat sessions about blogging and just personal life matters. While he’s only a year younger than me, we look and act like day vs night. He’s energetic, mohawked and totally ADHD, while I’m lazy, balding and, well, just sort of ADHD.

J has also put together a “V.I.P. Newsletter” and is giving away a couple hundred $$ over the next few weeks as prizes for signing up (one winner per week. See the article to find out more). The Newsletter is different than email/RSS updates of his daily articles, and I’m excited to see what he’s put together!

My Comments about the Q&A

I didn’t get to see Frugal Dad’s responses ahead of time, so it’s interesting to see how we compare on things like handling finances in our family.

Question #2: Secrets to Writing: I also agree with FD’s response that you need to be a bit controversial in your articles. If you try to “play it safe” in all your articles, people just won’t be interested in what you’re writing. If they wanted bland journalistic tips for saving money, they’ll read Fortune magazine or something. People want stories so they can see better how it can relate to their own lives, and that’s what bloggers can offer. Sometimes those stories differ from your reader’s POV and that can create some great conversation. If you can accept some criticism or differing ideas, you can actually learn from your readers, and vice-versa.

Question #3: First 3 sites in morning: Checking my own site’s stats comes up as #4 and #5, so I’m not really that different than FD. I do also “balance my finances” each evening in the form of syncing Quicken to my accounts (credit, checking, savings, investments), so I’m always on top of fraudulent or unexpected charges. I really do recommend using some type of software to track your finances, whether it’s a spreadsheet, Quicken, Mint.com or something else.

Question #4: Handling finances with family: FD said the same thing as I did, but more concisely. It’s funny that we both trust our wives with spending decisions much more than we trust ourselves, but it’s true. While the wife/girlfriend may not always fill the stereotypical role of budget-minded, frugal financier, often times, the female just has a better intuition about spending (unless she really wants those new boots or handbag or iPod…we all have our weaknesses).

Question #5: Budgeting: Again, funny that we both use “old school” methods of budgeting such as an Excel spreadsheet, but really, it’s the most flexible way that we have each found to set up our budgets. Commercial applications, even when developed specifically for budgeting, tend to be developed for the masses and usually will miss one or two things in your situation. You’ll spend hours trying to find a way to get the application to do 100%, only to find that you now need to manage two tools now instead of just one. For me, it’s Excel (for planning) and Quicken (for tracking/reporting). However, unlike FD, I try to keep my Excel budget categories at a high level such as “dining:dinner”, “dining:lunch” (for my work lunches), “groceries” and “fuel”.

Question #6: Easiest way to save money:While I agree with FD about just leaving money at home, which means you can’t spend it, it’s not always the most practical or even feasible approach. While I very rarely carry cash, I do always have a credit card with me. However, the difference between the 2010 Clever Dude and the 2006 and Prior Clever Dude is that I pay off the balance every month and I’m MUCH less willing to spend money without proper research and consideration. But if you’re going to the mall, Best Buy, or even online to shop, without a spending and repayment plan in place, then you’re wise to leave the cards and cash at home, or just avoid the online stores. Give yourself enough time to get home and think about the purchase for a few days before you regret the decision.

Question #7: Most Debt: While we’ve had about $113,000 vs $30,000 in debt compared to FD, that doesn’t mean that his climb out of debt was any easier than ours. I have a good job with a good salary, plus a wife with a salary and no kids, so after we got our spending under control and focused on paying off debt, it became almost a mindless task of just paying the bills on time.

Question #8: Sports Car:I already have a pickup truck, so heck yeah, give me the sports car!

Question #9: Personal Finance is easy: I totally agree that personal finance has become too sophisticated and complicated. Finance companies and individuals have tried to capitalize and monetize on any new investment vehicle or debt-reduction methodology, when all the majority of people need is to just get their spending under control, try to create an emergency savings fund, and then work on planning their retirement. It really is as simple as “spend less than you earn”, plus “plan for the future”. If there’s too many options in front of you, many people, including myself, go into “paralysis by analysis” and just give up. Don’t over-complicate it; just get back to the basics!

Now go over to BudgetsAreSexy.com to read the whole showdown and then vote for Clever Dude!

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Clever Dude

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