The three personal finance writers you should read in 2008


New Year’s Eve is a time for wrapping up and looking back, and New Year’s Day is great for making resolutions. I’ve been reading the work of personal finance bloggers and journalists for a few years now, and I’ve been particularly impressed with three writers I think you should add to your New Year’s Resolutions list. Choose the one that’s best for your situation, and read what they write, or keep up with all three. A year from now, you’ll be much smarter about your money.

(Note, I’ve excluded everything on Wesabe from my top choices since I’m totally biased, although I certainly think that Wesabe Groups is one of the best sources of information and support around money issues that I know of. When we launched last year, a lot of people showed up and talked and got to know each other in our discussions, but over the year, the community has matured to the point where any reasonable question is likely to get one or several fantastic answers. Also, all of the writers listed below have covered Wesabe in some way, so I can’t claim to be completely unbiased about them, but — not meaning to brag — that’s true from all of the personal finance blogs and writers I read, so I can’t meaningfully exclude writers on that basis.)

Best Blog for People Struggling with Finances:
Get Rich Slowly

There’s no question that the best place to start if you’re just learning how to cope with money issues is J.D. Roth’s fantastic personal finance blog, Get Rich Slowly. J.D. has taken a small personal diary and turned it into an essential resource with a great group of commenters and guest bloggers (full disclosure: I’ve contributed to his blog before and mean to again). J.D. blogs every day, talking about his own progress with finances — such as his recent post about saying good-bye to 20 years of debt — and topics that help people throughout their financial lives, such as his list of the 25 best books about money. He writes a ton and there’s a lot to absorb, especially if you read the comments, but the payoff is very high. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see J.D. write a book of his own in the coming year.

Best General Interest Personal Finance Columnist:
Linda Stern, Reuters

Linda Stern’s weekly column for Reuters is fantastically level-headed, clear, and well-researched. She covers topics that everyone should learn about, and makes complicated or controversial issues clear and concise. Some recent examples that I especially liked include her rational approach to preparing for a recession, and her clear and simple advice about 401(k)s. Having been interviewed by Linda before, I can say from experience that she is extremely thorough and precise, and is completely disinterested in anything but what is best for her readers. If you don’t have a lot of time and just want a quick lesson every week on how you can be getting more from your money, this is the column to read.

Best Finance Blog for People Ready to Save or Invest:
The Finance Buff

Probably the least well-known of the personal finance blogs I admire, The Finance Buff deserves to be a lot better-known. I found myself linking to one of TFB’s posts every week for more than a month recently and thought I should spread the linklove around, but why? The posts are great, clear, and more advanced than most finance bloggers. TFB has an MBA in Finance, and is a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist, so there’s more than the usual finance blog credibility behind the posts. Some great ones: Best Checking Account Which Is Not A Checking Account, Estimate Your Overall Personal Rate of Return, and Vanguard or T. Rowe Price Funds: Actively Managed vs. Index Funds. What I like best about TFB posts is that they teach a great way of thinking about building your savings and investments — not just a quick trick but a philosophy to understanding your options and costs. If you have money to save or invest and don’t know where to start, this is a great guide.

Thanks to all three of these writers for producing so much help for people struggling with money issues everywhere. Keep up the great work in the new year!

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