The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: My Hidden Agenda Edition

Most writers and speakers have a hidden agenda, and I’m no different (be patient, I’ll let you in on my agenda in due time).

The average book author has several agendas. The writer wants to write something interesting enough that people will buy it, above all else. That usually means providing an exciting story or a substantial chunk of compelling information. Beyond that, the writer usually has some sort of viewpoint that they want to get across. For example, in Your Money or Your Life, the authors have a somewhat liberal political viewpoint and also a tendency to promote voluntary simplicity as an ideal lifestyle. That’s an agenda that steers the book in a somewhat different direction than another writer might take it.

People offering specific investment advice often have a different agenda. Those talking heads on CNBC recommending stocks often have some sort of leveraged interest in recommending those stocks – they will make money if you follow their recommendation.

My hidden agenda? I want eyeballs. Readers. People to read my stuff, think about it, print it off, and share it with their friends. From that I make adequate money to get by, but more importantly, I can make people think about their financial situation or their greater life situation. That is my chief agenda with The Simple Dollar. I look back to where I was in April 2006 and I ask myself what kind of information would help me the most, and that’s what I try to put out there, and the more readers I have, the more likely I am to reach that theoretical person. To do that, I have to be simultaneously compelling and informative. Your cost investment in The Simple Dollar is extremely low, much lower than other media forms. If I don’t hold your attention and inform you right away, you’ll move on to another source of information.

What you have to ask yourself when you hear any piece of financial advice is this: what is that person’s agenda for telling me this information? Sometimes it’s really hard to tell, and you often have to take in a lot of information to find out whether they’re reliable sources of information or not.

I will say this, though: if you think a writer has a hidden agenda that’s keeping them from giving you the best information or advice, move on. And that includes The Simple Dollar.

Now, for some interesting personal finance posts that tweaked my interest this week.

New Home or Remodel? I think it largely depends on whether remodeling is an appealing side hobby for you. For some people (like my good friend who actually built his own house), it’s a lot of fun. For others, it’s mind-numbingly dull. For yet others, it’s incredibly challenging (I can’t tell you how many swollen thumbs I’ve given myself accidentally with a hammer). (@ frugal dad)

Low Cost Family Vacations I really like the “pack the tent in the back and hit the road” kind of vacation myself. Even with high gas prices, it’s not that expensive if you’re stopping regularly to check out things and to camp for a day or two. (@ gather little by little)

Baby Toy Alternatives and More Baby Toy Alternatives These two articles actually outline many of the toys that our children play with. My eight month old daughter, for example, loves looking at old issues of bon appetit (yes, she actually has a preference, and seems to like that magazine the best by far) – she’ll flip rapidly through pages (like you’d imagine an infant who has just recently learned to sit up might flip through magazine pages), then stop on a page and stare for a long while. It’s adorable – I should capture it on video sometime. (@ unclutterer)

75 Gas Saving Tips The most important? Drive the speed limit without excessive acceleration, which basically implies driving conservatively and setting the cruise control. (@ christian pf)

Financial Infidelity as an Addiction Financial infidelity is a really challenging concept to write about because it stabs so deeply at the marital problems of some couples. I hope to soon give the topic a serious and thoughtful treatment. (@ free money finance)

How Will My Decision To Stop Drinking Soda Affect Our Finances? Breaking a soda habit is something I’ve been challenged with. The problem hasn’t been so much withdrawals, but that my wife continues to drink Diet Coke and quite often, I’ll open the fridge and reflexively grab one without really consciously thinking about it. I’ve caught myself halfway through a Diet Coke recently. (@ no credit needed)

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