And What About Privacy?

Very interesting article in the NYT today about how people are blogging about their finances.

No Privacy

When a woman who calls herself Tricia discovered last week that she owed $22,302 on her credit cards, she could not wait to spread the news. Tricia, 29, does not talk to her family or friends about her finances, and says she is ashamed of her personal debt.

Yet from the laundry room of her home in northern Michigan, Tricia does something that would have been unthinkable — and impossible — a generation ago: she goes online and posts intimate details of her financial life, including her net worth (now negative $38,691), the balance and finance charges on her credit cards, and the amount of debt she has paid down since starting a blog about her debt last year ($15,312).

Her journal, bloggingawaydebt.com, is one of dozens that have sprung up in recent years taking advantage of Internet anonymity to reveal to strangers fiscal intimacies the authors might not tell their closest friends.

Like other debt bloggers, Tricia believes the exposure gives her the discipline to reduce her debt. “I think about this blog every time I’m in the store and something that I don’t need catches my eye,” she told readers last week. “Look what you all have done to me!”

A decade after the Internet became a public stage for revelations from the bedroom, it is now peering into the really private stuff: personal finance.

A blog called “Poorer Than You” (kgazette.blogspot.com) describes the financial doings of a 20-year-old film-school dropout. (Typical post: “Yesterday we ate lunch at Subway for a total of $8.00, and went grocery shopping … with a list! And didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on it!”) On saveleighann.blogspot.com, Leigh Ann Fraley, 37, provides daily accounts of her escape from $19,947 in credit card debt.

“I teach people how to get out of debt for a living, but I couldn’t do it myself until I started the blog,” said Ms. Fraley, who conducts seminars in personal finance for a bank in Northern California. “I started to write everything down, like, ‘I saved 20 cents today by parking at a meter that still had time on it.’ I tell things I wouldn’t tell my family.” When she finally got out of debt in December, she said, “The blog was the first people I told.”

A Boston couple who call themselves the King and Queen of Debt started their his-and-hers blog, “We’re in Debt” (wereindebt.com), last March as a way to talk to each other about their debt. They owed $34,155.70 on their credit cards at the time, and an additional $120,000, mostly in student loans.

“My wife and I have good communication skills in every avenue of life except finances,” said the King of Debt, insisting on anonymity because, he said, “We don’t want our parents to find out and kill us.”

Starting the blog, he said, “was a way to communicate. We’d write articles and learn about each other. She learned how addicted to gadgets I was. When we married we never talked about finances.”

This is really shocking that people can blog about their personal finances and think that blogging keeps them accountable. Its either a sad result of lack of social support system in most people’s life or a truly emphatic example of social nature of human beings…What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “And What About Privacy?

  1. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s sad that people want to read about someone else’s financial woes. Chalk that up to “Jerry Springer” syndrome, where watching someone else’s unhappiness somehow makes people feel better. Blogs like this will get read by very few.

    On the other hand, if the folks writing these blogs feel it is therapeutic, then they should write. If nothing else, they will learn the self discipline it takes to write and maintain a blog.

  2. I think what you have to realize is that we aren’t simply blogging about debt, we’re blogging about GETTING OUT of debt. And many other aspects of personal finance, as well. We aren’t the only personal finance bloggers out there. Some of us focus on our own situations mostly, others focus on what experts are saying, others focus on stock picks – it’s all very broad, but a lot of it mixes together.

    I personally did not start Poorer Than You as a “debt” blog. I started it as a documentation of someone pulling herself up from a major blow – a lot of it happens to be financial.

  3. Poorer Than You,

    Thanks for your comment…
    (https://karmaweb.wordpress.com/2007/02/17/and-what-about-privacy/#comment-378)

    Congratulations on taking the steps in the climb towards financial sanity. My point was just about the changing meaning of Privacy…It used to be that about 5 years back, people were very much up in arms about Privacy but it seems with the new generation of users and kinds who are used to MySpace etc., Privacy is a lot less important factor in online interactions.

    (https://karmaweb.wordpress.com/2006/09/22/privacy-and-social-networks/)

    Thanks, Jitendra

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