Updated on 07.31.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Interesting Reader Emails Edition

Trent Hamm

Many of the most entertaining emails I receive from readers will never pop up in the reader mailbag. Lengthy personal attacks (including threatening statements about my children and my wife). Offers for intimate “meetups.” Long descriptions of horribly dysfunctional marriages. People begging me to hire them (The Simple Dollar is a one-man shop for now, and if I do hire someone, it won’t be someone flinging a resume at me out of the blue). Dozens of bloggers asking me to link to them – and some enraged emails when I don’t. Countless corporate folks asking me to shill to you on behalf of their product. Conspiracy theorists writing long diatribes about their pet ideas about global hegemony and demanding that I inform my readers of the great danger. My favorite recent one was a person who kept saying I was clearly Aryan and out to oppress her and other people, including a defacement of my picture that she found somewhere online to include anti-Semitic tattoos (I’m tattoo-free, but I admire well-done body art). I’m not exactly sure how The Simple Dollar is an “engine of oppression,” but I’ll take her word for it.

That’s just a sampling of the joys that come from reading my email every day. (Trust me, most of them aren’t this weird and negative, but there’s more than enough to spice up the mix.)

Reader uncluttering strategy: Buy back your stuff I really like this strategy because it can reveal some deep connections between whether we’re just attached to something out of routine or whether we actually value it to any significant degree. (@ unclutterer)

Why Focus on the Numbers? I really like using numbers to express the specifics of a goal. It gives me a metric for success. Of course, it doesn’t mean much if the number itself doesn’t represent something worthwhile. An example: setting a goal of a number of hours of piano practice provides the real accomplishment of becoming a better piano player. Setting a goal of a number of hours of exercise provides the real accomplishment of being in better shape. (@ the art of nonconformity)

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Remembering to Appreciate What I Already Have I don’t want a house any larger than the one we’ve currently got. The only thing I wish were different about it is location – I would love to have this house in the country somewhere. (@ get rich slowly)

Do Women Still Want to Marry for Money? Some do. Some men want to marry for money, too. I think that financial success is often a sign of a mate that has their act together, at least to an extent. (@ one frugal girl)

With Rates This Low, Should You be Borrowing to Invest? I agree with his answer. I’d add that it’s all about the risk, and when you take on debt to invest in the stock market, you take on multiple layers of risk. I don’t think that’s a healthy situation for Joe Average who dreams of being an investor. (@ darwin’s finance)

The Things Money Can’t Buy, and a Few Things It Can Money cannot buy happiness. If you’re unhappy and are telling yourself that happiness would come if you had a little more money, that’s a false promise. Money can only buy you more options. (@ frugal dad)

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  1. Wesley says:

    “countless corporate folks asking me to shill to you on behalf of their product. ”

    Well if they pay you wouldn’t that be, really, in the spirit of The Simple Dollar. Maximizing potential income at lowest possible expense. Unless of course you value your integrity…

    and yes, before other comments start flaming me, I really am just joking.

  2. Leah W. says:

    I bet the offers for intimate “meetups” are pretty funny.

    On another note, I commented on both posts Monday, and both comments are still in moderation. What gives?

  3. Money Smarts says:

    As a blogger i can relate to the negative emails – even if I don’t receive nearly as many as you do. I do get them though – the unsolicited PR emails to shill a book or product. The stock emails with someone elses name posted in at the top. And of course the emails attacking you for no apparent reason. All in a day’s work!

  4. marta says:

    Yikes. What a bunch of freaks.

    Don’t you ever worry about your family’s safety? Sometimes I can’t help feeling a bit concerned when you post pictures of your kids on this blog. You use your real name, and it’s not hard to find where you live.

    Why take those risks at all?

  5. Johanna says:

    Stuff like this is one of the biggest reasons why I’m hesitant to start a blog. I’ve gotten some really nasty personal attacks in the past (that make the harshest comments here look like a tea party) just in my participation in message boards and forums. And I’ve seen some of the threats that female bloggers, in particular, can get for saying things that aren’t even that controversial. And I’m not sure I want to deal with all that on a regular basis.

    Sure, on one level it’s “entertaining” to see these people get all worked up in a way that’s completely out of proportion to reality. (I just had something like this happen recently with the writing I do for my job.) But at the same time, it’s hard not to take personal attacks personally. And it’s hard to know how worried to be about whether the truly unhinged people will actually follow through on their threats offline.

  6. marta says:

    “And I’ve seen some of the threats that female bloggers, in particular, can get for saying things that aren’t even that controversial.”

    Oh yes, I have been gobsmacked at the reactions that bloggers like Melissa McEwan from Shakesville or Kate Harding from Shapely Prose get from some guys (yes, it’s mostly guys). And in Melissa’s case, she was actually threatened offline as well. Very scary.

    I can’t blame people for not wanting to deal with that.

  7. Johanna says:

    “that make the harshest comments here look like a tea party”

    Heh. Poor choice of words there. Obviously, I meant a tea party, not a Tea Party.

  8. Crystal in Ft Worth says:

    Trent-I would LOVE to read all of the crazy emails you get..really I had no idea. Thansk for a good laugh today
    Body art is expensive-you ought to do a piece on the return for your $ on THAT. The entire lower 1/2 of my back is done with many colours and it cost $600. Love the tattoo, not sure now, today, if I would spend that kind of $ on it…but I have enjoyed it for 12 years now. Its a toss up

  9. Greg says:

    Why Focus on the Numbers? Because you can enter the numbers in a spreadsheet and produce all sorts of graphs that visualize your progress towards your goal.

  10. Valerie says:

    Report threatening statements to the authorities! That is not okay.

  11. Gal @ Equally Happy says:

    So you’re not going to show up for our “dinner date”? :)

    Keep up the great work Trent. Those emails just mean you’re doing a good job and getting people’s attention.

  12. melanie says:

    OMG, I wish you could post some of the freakiest emails. I bet it would be endlessly entertaining.

  13. todo es bien says:

    well, you hear a lot about threats and such, but I have never heard of a blogger actually being physically assaulted as a result of their blog. (Not that it has never happened, but the chances have to be absolutely minuscule statistically). Some small consolation in probability, but nevertheless people who threaten your family are the lowest of the low. The good (bad?) news is the people doing the threatening seem like cowards of the first magnitude, so probably you are in more danger of stepping on a garden rake…

  14. Johanna says:

    @todo: Well, I have heard of a case where a blogger and her very young daughter (descriptions and pictures of whom had appeared on the blog) was being stalked – in person – by a registered sex offender with a history of molesting children.

    I guess that’s not a physical assault, but it’s a lot closer than I’d care to come.

  15. Johanna says:

    Whoa – hold the phone.

    “Long descriptions of horribly dysfunctional marriages.”

    Other people’s cries for help are “entertaining”?

  16. Kris says:

    I think he was being sarcastic about the entertaining part. Either that or he thinks threats to his family are also entertaining.

  17. chacha1 says:

    Johanna, all you have to do is read a TV program guide to see that a good 50% – maybe more – of all “entertainment” is based on trauma, grief, and pain.

    This is why I mostly watch dance shows, HGTV and Food Network.

    But as to Net stalkers in general … my own blog is only a year old, very tiny readership, and even I have gotten hate mail. I kind of hope there are just a few people out there so full of viciousness that they spew it everywhere, rather than a lot of people who do it once in a while when their oversensitive buttons get pushed.

  18. marta says:

    You know, after a two-seconds search, I think I have found the person who thinks you are an Aryan. I suspected it was because of the Scandinavian debacle, and that’s right.

    Anyway, she posted about you on some weird website, and someone else seems to have posted your street address as well.

    Gotta be careful, Trent.

  19. Doug says:

    I guess being a blogger who is rampantly enthusiastic about the Second Amendment has its perks. I haven’t received any threatening messages.

    It’s either that or no one reads my blog.

    I’m gonna say the former is more true . . . .

    Cheers, Trent!

  20. J says:

    I’d like to put in my vote as well. Please publish some of these emails…you could call it “best of the worst edition…”

  21. Joan says:

    Scary. I had no idea that you were getting stuff that bad. Please DO NOT PUBLISH any of that stuff. Have you ever noticed how when one person makes a negative comment, it is followed up with a lot of crap. You are doing the right thing just to ignore it. I second that you need to be careful. Just be sure to keep records of the bad threatening ones, so that if any thing does happen; it will help the police tract down the bad person.

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