Updated on 12.18.07

Why I’ve Decided To Abandon (Virtually All) Ads On The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm

As many of you have probably noticed, this morning I removed the majority of advertising from The Simple Dollar. This was a tough decision that I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’ve finally reached a point where it’s clear that it’s the right move for me and for all of my readers.

What happened? Most of the ads on my site were provided by a program called Google AdSense. They provide most of the ads that you see on various sites on the web. They paid quite well and have been by far the biggest revenue provider for The Simple Dollar.

AdSense is an automated system where people bid for ad placements on sites with particular words on them. So, for example, The Simple Dollar would usually receive ads from people who bid on ad placements on pages with words like “credit” and “money” and so forth.

It sounds good, but there’s a big problem: this automated bidding system allows anyone to bid, and I don’t have much control over who does the bidding. The end result was that the site would have ads from payday loan places, credit card brokerages, shady subprime lenders, and such.

My only control over this is by maintaining a list of websites that I would block ads from, but that list can only be so long. Thus, for the last several months, I would notice an inappropriate ad on my site, add it to the filter, and then I’d have to delete another one.

This juggling act got old fast, and I would get increasingly frustrated by having sites that I personally disagreed with on my site. This morning, the straw that broke the camel’s back appeared: an ad featuring a scantily clad woman advocating a payday loan site showed up. The ad bothered me a lot – it is literally the opposite of the message that I’m trying to talk about on this site.

Thus, I made the decision to abandon all of the ads. There are basically no ads anymore – I abandoned everything that didn’t give me strong control over the content of the ads. This basically ensures that I’m not advertising stuff that bothers me from an ethical standpoint – and thus ensures I’m not effectively recommending anything unethical to you, the reader. If you look around now, the site looks quite a bit cleaner and more appealing. The site now does a much better job of reflecting my perspectives on personal finance issues and I have much better control over the small number of ads that remain.

In the end, I finally realized that the real reason I write The Simple Dollar is to help bring about positive change in people’s lives, and when the site showed ads that really conflicted with that mission, I was undercutting what I want to do here. Sure, the income was nice, but quite often I was having to make some justifications that I really didn’t like, and that hurt you, the reader.

The downside The downside to this, obviously, is that I’ve decimated my income for the site. This was extremely painful to do – it was like quitting a high paying job because of ethics and taking a much, much lower paying job.

My hope is that some of that income will be made up for by donations and that an eventual increase in traffic helped by a cleaner design will bring in other advertisers that don’t fill the site with unethical ads. Either way, this choice will dramatically reduce the overall income from The Simple Dollar for the short term, changing my plans for the coming months.

Please, let me know if you have any thoughts on this change.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Mrs. Micah says:

    It’s certainly a big change. I don’t mind if bloggers have adsense and I know it’s hard to control. Bright shiny ads or really offensive ones get to me, but I’ve never seen one here. Well, except the one butt ad, but it kind of amused me.

    It’s your decision, of course and the site looks very nice. Hope the monetary part works out for you.

  2. tori says:

    I’m proud of you, Trent. I was wondering what was going on with the payday loans earlier this morning, but figured you didn’t knowingly choose to have the ad on the site.

    I don’t think your income will be decimated for long. This is a bunch of good karma you put out into the world.

  3. I usually read from my feedreader, so I never noticed the ads before. But I do believe it’s important to stick to your convictions, and if you felt that strongly about it, it was the right thing to do.

    Hopefully your income will come back up quickly.

  4. Patrick says:

    Trent, I wish you the best of luck with the new arrnagements for your site. Your site brings in a lot of quality traffic and I am sure some advertisers you would recommend to your readers will come along. These things have a way of working themselves out, and I think in the long run you will find a way to make writing your full-time profession.

  5. Mark says:

    I can understand your decision, but do not put the financial stability of your family at risk because of some shady ads.

    A car salesman will sell a car to someone that can’t afford it because he needs the income. I work for a company that I feel is unethical at times, but I have to provide for my family.

    Your decision is noble, but there may be more ways to make-up the income. What about direct ad sales? FreeMoneyFinance does that for some of his ads. They may not be as lucrative, but they could help fill the gap.

  6. paidtwice says:

    I am sure this was a very difficult decision for you and I wish you the best of luck. Dreams have a way of being there even if they get a bit delayed in the process.

  7. mgroves says:

    Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense to me, unless you are really overstating the lost income. I’ve never been bothered by the ads, and I think they are a necessary part of any significant “free” site.

    But hey, it’s your site, so do what you want.

  8. Thomas says:

    Well, you can manage ads contracts directly – there’re plenty of software (depends on server, usualy it’s in php) that will help you manage ads and still you will mantain full control of what (and how often :) appears on your page.

  9. Carrie says:

    Congrats on your decision to give Adsense the boot! But at the same time there are solutions to keep the revenue flowing on your sites & at the same time provide helpful advertisments to your users. Why not try out blogads.com and see if they don’t have a nice grouping of ads for your to choose from, or just allow people to submit ads directly to you, like designspongeonline.com I love DesignSponge’s Ads! They are so artful & selective I know when I click on them I will be happy (They also cost a pretty penny, but I know the advertiser returns there are so much better since people actually WANT to click and see the ads.)

    So Hurray for ditching adsense but don’t call it a day on revenue!

  10. Thomas says:

    Well, you can manage ads contracts directly – there’re plenty of software (depends on server, usualy it’s in php) that will help you manage ads and still you will mantain full control of what (and how often :) appears on your page. You don’t need to choose one option, you can have both.

  11. Clever Dude says:

    I support your decision. I often wonder why I show adsense, since I usually don’t have large units. I only make maybe $50-100 per month off it, but it’s “easy money”. I don’t usually allow images, which is a major eyesore anyway, but I also don’t look at the ads that are displaying on my site to see whether they’re ethical or not.

  12. Joe says:

    Trent – this is an enormous step. While obviously the site is yours to do what you’d like with, I would recommend bringing back the ads – I’m sure most people just completely ignore these advertisement as a by-product of what is a wealth of free information, as mgroves said…

  13. That One Caveman says:

    I think most people would know the difference between you recommending a product or service and an Adsense ad. Plus, there are all those people out there running AdBlock anyway, so they didn’t see the ads in the first place.

    I congratulate you on your boldness to stand up for what you believe, but I think you could have been just as safely served by posting a message above the ad stating something to the effect of “I do not necessarily recommend the products or services proffered by this ad.” Heck, you could have even moved to their small text-only ads and not allow ad images to appear.

    For your case, I believe Thomas’ recommendation of doing ad contracts may be the best (if not only) way to try to make up the income gap.

  14. Johanna says:

    It seems to me that the payday lenders are the ones who should have been most troubled by having their ads on your site. They’re the ones who were paying good money to have their services advertised to an audience who knows better than to use them.

    I didn’t like the butt ad. But I didn’t mind any of the others.

  15. Ryan says:

    Another suggestion is to make this site subscription based, such as charging $5 per month. Or making a free version of the site that includes viewing, but upgrading to the premium version would include posting privelidges and contest prizes.

  16. Brian says:

    Trent, I’d say bring the ads back. I don’t know if I ever actually noticed any of them. Your site structure and post format is so good, readers usually know to look right past the ads.

  17. Mark says:

    I agree with the consensus here, don’t decimate your income by pulling ads that everyone skips over anyway.

  18. Heidi says:

    I really never noticed your ads, Trent. I read so many blogs, some which have flashing or bright print print – the ads on your site were always tasteful. It got to the point where I don’t even see them.

    Having said that, I’m keeping my site ad free for the time being, for the same reasons you mention. Plus, as a new blogger, I have to have something that differentiates me from the pack.

    Good luck!

  19. Jim Jones says:

    w00t! Good job. I did the same thing on my personal finance site a while ago for the very same reason. Have you considered selling simple text links? You can control exactly who you sell to and don’t have to compromise your values.

  20. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I’m going to experiment with some other options where I have more control over the ads that are displayed. I felt deeply uncomfortable with payday loan ads appearing on this site out of my control.

  21. Francis says:

    Maybe you could put a box where the ads used to be, soliciting donations. That way people would be constantly reminded that you’ve removed stuff they probably didn’t want to see anyway.

    I hope you continue to be successful.


  22. Paul says:

    I don’t come to this website everyday for the advertising, I come for the content.

    That being said, I honestly have never even noticed the ads here and wouldn’t mind them being back. I just never bothered to look at them before.

    I’ve also got to comment on one other thing. Over the past month or so I have noticed a lot of people suggesting that you should charge for this website. I personally would not be willing to pay, sorry. I am more than willing to put up with ads I never bother to look at than pay up out of my own pocket.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  23. tarits says:

    trent, i applaud you for standing up for your principles.you have written so many times that following your passions is the best way, not just chasing a buck. i am sure that other, better opportunities for revenue will open up soon.

  24. Lucas Jackson says:

    Like you said, it’s like quitting a high paying job for ethical reasons, but that does seem to be what you are about (Your Money or Your Life, etc). A difficult choice to make, but like most financial decisions, you sacrifice one thing for another.

    I give you credit for sticking to the ideals of the blog and for sticking to your personal beliefs.

    btw, the site does look better and the ads were annoying and confusing, based on the content of the blog

  25. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Paul, this site will never charge for content. Having said that, I hope that people will consider donating, or perhaps support the site in other ways (sending links to friends or other such things that may come along).

  26. You know, Adsense is adding a review center that’s going to allow you to approve which ads show up on the site, so I’m not sure that it’s necessary to completely remove it:


    That having been said, who knows – maybe advertisers will be attracted to a site where they don’t have to compete with flashy google ads all over the page.

  27. Trent, this is a noble cause that I am sure will get rewarded. Good luck!

  28. Gentle reader says:

    I read your posts regularly even though we are frugal and not in debt. Firefox settings make sure that I never see any ads so I didn’t even know for a long time that you had ads.
    To me the donate button is offensive and imo it is like a person standing with a sign begging for money. It is your blog but do seriously rethink this please.

  29. catherine says:

    Have you considered approaching financial organisations you DO respect and asking them to place ads or sponsor you? E.g. you talk about Vanguard as a company you like to use, why not ask them to advertise on the site? It’d be a benefit to them to know they come recommended and your readers are FAR more likely to click through to companies they know you have already checked out as being reputable.

  30. That One Caveman says:

    “I hope that people will consider donating, or perhaps support the site in other ways (sending links to friends or other such things that may come along).”

    Oh, you certainly don’t have to worry about at least the last half of that one. I found your site by references from other blogs and I try to send people your way, too. When you maintain high-quality content, not to mention your high-quantity, you’re not going to have to worry about recommendations — they’ll just roll in anyway. Plus, you have to consider all of the people who are getting bitten by the subprime market. They’ll need a place to turn to help turn their lives around. You have a very large potential audience coming in the next year.

  31. sharon says:

    I truly admire and applaud your decision. It is based on integrity vs. the all mighty dollar. You will be blessed by this decision.

  32. Dave Bartlett says:

    I think it’s very unlikely that you will get a useful sum from donations.

    If you are uncomfortable with adsense/yahoo ads, I suggest you look at automated advert selling systems you can operate yourself.

    Slashdot use such a system, perhaps that’s open source?

    You could also look at referral/commission adverts from companies you are comfortable with – CC ads from the larger banks/insurance companies etc.

  33. Mike says:

    Wow. That’s a big decision. If only some of the other personal finance blogs (including some the “big guys” in the moneyblognetwork) would get rid of undisclosed and definitely stealthy affiliate links, including listings of 0% credit cards that look like they are helping readers with a list when they are all affiliate links.

  34. Deena says:

    I agree. I don’t even see the ads. I think you should bring them back. Your readers are much too smart to pay attention to those ads.

  35. Generation Y says:

    I applaud your decision. I have just started a new blog and have been debating whether to start using adsense. Reading your post, and seeing all the ccmments on here has definately given me food for thought.

    On another note, I hope you find an alternative source of income soon. You definately deserve it for the quality of content you put out.

  36. I’ve been reading The Simple Dollar for about a month now; though I don’t necessarily always comment.

    But what you did here is particularly interesting and commendable! I’m sure it was nice having an income stream… But hey, if something doesn’t feel right…and it goes against everything you believe in and value…it’s got to change. Right?

  37. John Hunter says:

    Keep up the great blog. I am sorry to say I doubt donations will make up the difference but maybe I am wrong. I have thought about the same issue but decided that if people pay so little attention to what I say they click on a payday loan and use it. They were going to do that at a store on there way to work or some other site so I left the adsense ads there. I don’t think anyone reading you site is going to be encouraged to take some bad financial step do to the ad on your site. Even if they click on the ad and take a bad financial step it wasn’t the ad on your site that made that happen they were going to do it anyway.

  38. Beth says:

    Sounds to me like a smart person with some spare time might want to think about becoming a newer, better version of AdSense. Remember us poor working stiffs when you’ve made your millions!

  39. PiFreak says:

    Just so you know, I’ve never seen an ad on this site, so our free, simple ad blocker blocks all your ads.

  40. I’m agreeing with Brian here, bring them back. It’s worth the revenue it brings in and for most users it’s all noise anyway, I don’t really see them anymore.

    But I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to make up the revenue. After all, tons of sites do this and if they can you surely will be able to.

  41. Battgirl says:

    This post is so ironic. I was just at another website that I read daily that basically tries out all of the “money making” websites out there and reports back on whether they are fake or not. The mission of their website is to keep people from spending money with these websites that say “You can make $1500.00 per hour working from home if you just send us $49.95” and are all fakes. One of the google ad’s on their website today was one of the well known work from home scam websites. How can they promote one thing on their website and advertise for the complete opposite?
    Good job Trent.

  42. kazari says:

    I get my (mostly insignificant) income from a couple of very low key affiliate links. One you might investigate is simplesavings.net. I think their ethos is very similar to yours, although they do charge a membership fee.

  43. tanya says:

    I think you should explain that you do not endorse these ads and not remove them. I think that most of the people reading your blog know better than to take payday loan or whatever is called.
    Make it like a banner that you do not endorse the ads and link it to this post.
    On the other note, I will read you blog even if you had pop ups that were giving $1,000,000.00 in cash if I provide them with the account number to transfer the money from Nigeria. :)

  44. vh says:

    What a brave move!

    But…I wonder how many people actually pay any attention to ads on a Web page? Speaking for moi-meme, I’ve developed such a powerful BS filter I don’t even see them. If an ad is offensive, as the girlie ad on my favorite Boomshine site used to be, I simply move the window to cut off the annoyance so all I see is what I want to see. Ads that are not pop-ups and not things that jump up at you if you accidentally mouse-over an intrusive link don’t bother me much — sites that do contain such elements never get revisited from this computer.

    BTW, I forward posts from TSD to friends all the time, especially when it’s a good article that’s generated a lot of interesting chatter.

  45. Lauren says:

    One more vote for bringing them back. You should trust in yourself that you’ve educated your readers to be smart enough to overlook the dumb ads. :)

  46. Misa says:

    I’m with the pro ad people. I never even notice advertising on websites and have never clicked on an ad on a website–if I want a product, I will hunt it down myself. Anyway, my two cents would be to keep the ads for now (I feel you should be getting paid for all of your hard work and relying on donations is iffy at best) until you have a better way to generate income from your site.

  47. Mark says:

    It is the perfect conspiracy against the payday loan places, get them to pay for ads on a site that bashes them and has readers smart enough not to click on them – then they are just wasting their money and increasing your income.

  48. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The people suggesting bringing them back are the people that don’t notice them anyway and thus don’t click on them. You’re not the ones I’m worried about. The people that click on those ads are the ones that come in via Google searches, desperate for answers, and it goes against everything this site stands for if they see a huge payday loan ad, click on it, and make a horrible choice.

  49. Kai Schaller says:

    You impress me, sir. Thanks for always thinking of the reader first.

  50. Mark says:

    Good thought Trent, I didn’t think about it that way. Very honest of you to pull them. You are standing up for what you believe in, and I am sure the income will come back and then some. There are other ways to have ads that are within your control, I am sure you will figure something out.

  51. Mr. Nickle says:

    I use Firefox with AdBlock, so I never saw the ads. But kudos to you for sticking with your principles.

  52. Allan says:

    Congratulations on taking a principled approach here; money can be found anywhere, but integrity is a rare commodity.

    As for revenue, many sites do host inoffensive ads from quality companies; I’d think that many such companies would be interested in the very targeted audience that you offer. Vanguard, for example. comes to mind.

  53. Johanna says:

    Why not put an even huger link to a “Why payday loans suck” type article, just above or below the ads? That will give the Google searchers a fighting chance.

  54. Are you planning on removing the sponsored link for the credit repair place?

  55. Helen says:

    Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is! I really enjoy your site and your book reviews, and get a lot of value out of them. Maybe you could remind people of how much they spend on a magazine that they probably get less value out of?

    I’ve sent a little token. Thanks for a year of great reading, and Merry Christmas.

  56. Nazim says:

    I don’t know how much work it would be to do this, but you could eliminate the text that draw the wrong kinds of ads. Note, I’m not saying eliminate the words, just the text. Use one of those bad-word censuring programs to replace text entries of “credit” and “money” (or any other offending words) with images of those words. In other words, instead of the html text “money” an image containing that word would appear. Adsense would not see the words, and therefore you wouldn’t attract the ads you’ve been seeing.

    The images would take the most work to set up, but once you have done that, you can keep earning the income, and not attract the wrong kind of ad-crowd. I can see other problems with my suggestion: underlined, italicized, or other formatting will not show up, unless you can arrange for that somehow. I’m just sad that you have to lose the income.

  57. Brian A says:

    I’ve been on quite a few personal finance blogs and always found it troubling that some of the ads are about products that run counterintuitive to the message the blog is sending. It’s almost like their saying “don’t do X, but if you can make money off getting other people to do X, then go for it”. I, like you, find that highly unethical.

    I’m not negative on ads in general. Surely, there must be an ad network out there where you would have more finer control over the type of companies that show up on your site. Maybe you could investigate creating a PF blog ad network that is more in line with making responsible financial decisions.

    Thanks Trent and good luck.

  58. Ro says:

    I didn’t really pay attention to them either, but I do see your point about people who happen upon this site rather than regular readers. I am very glad that this will remain a free site. I will try to make a donation at some point. (not during Christmas though, sorry…)

  59. Len says:

    I’ve learned many useful things from your website… I just made a donation via the paypal link. Keep up the great work!

  60. Susan says:

    Hi Trent,

    For what it is worth – I am a bit offended by your decision to censor the ads. I, for one, don’t want anybody deciding what is appropriate for me to view or not. I am well over 50 and able to make up my own mind. There isn’t much difference between ads that appear here and ads on television. It is no secret that payday loan establishments exist. Your readers don’t need sheltering from the evils of advertisers.

    You have talked at length about wanting to make writing profitable – why discontinue the revenue stream? One of the things that draws me to your site is your determination to pursue your dreams. Don’t stop now – you are getting so close!

    Merry Christmas!

  61. Brett says:

    You’re the man. Good for you for taking this step. I agree that it is irresponsible to allow these types of ads on a site such as yours that teaches financial common sense. Hopefully you’ll be able to find ads that do not conflict with your ideals. Until then, I suggest everyone who has been reading Trent’s blog for months (like me) contribute what they can to the site through Paypal. Merry Christmas Trent!

  62. Briana says:

    I admire your principles here, and I do think it was the right decision. I don’t think the majority of your readers would (or did) hold it against you for keeping them, but I think it sends a strong message about your personal convictions to take them down.

    I second those other readers who suggest finding a more targeted ad network to join, or some other way to generate income from this site without compromising your principles. Perhaps an ebook? Or an affiliate deal with some personal finance products that you do personally recommend, such as budgeting software etc.? We all want you to succeed in generating at least enough income from the site to continue populating it with quality content!

  63. jaushwa says:

    Taking the adds off = less money for you

    less money for you = less motivation to continue writing the high quality content on this site

    less motivation = less writing and lower quality(I know what your thinking, and come now lets by realistic)

    Please, do everyone a favor, especially yourself and put the adds back up. I believe the term is “nessessary evil.”

  64. rkt88edmo says:

    Hopefully there is another ad vendor that will offer you more control. They might even still be google ads. Great to not have the bad ads, but losing the monetization is not so good.

  65. Tom Printy says:


    Like other mentioned there are ways to control the ads on your site. One way is using open ads (www.openads.org) get yourself accounts at commission junction, linkshare and places like azoogle ads. Then you load ads from these places that you like into the program it will rotate and track the ads for you and these places will cut you check just like adsense.

    Another way to help out is to run something like Kontera (www.kontera.com) on your site. I run these on mine on every page but the main page. Seems to work out for me.

    One last program that I just heard about today is http://www.125box.com/ This is a way to have you approve little banners on your site without you having to do much. They take a 50 percent cut but that is better then adsense.

    Most people eventually move away from adsense and run their own programs. You have a big enough site now that you should be able to make up the lost adsense revenue in no time.

  66. H says:

    I never noticed the ads either. Take the money, this site is worth it.

  67. Jillian says:

    Those of you who are saying “I don’t see the ads” or “people know better than to click on the ads” are missing the point. Adsense only pays if the ads are clicked on, not if they’re just displayed, so clearly people ARE clicking on them or Trent wouldn’t be making any money from them.

  68. David Hunter says:

    Trent there are plenty of alternative income sources I would find some and use them. I do highly approve of your decision though, picking ethics over profit is tough, but worth doing.

  69. Jeremy says:

    Didn’t I read somewhere very recently that Google is making some changes to AdSense to allow publishers more control over what ads do and do not appear on their site, more than they currently do?

    You might want to look into AdSense again soon to see if they change it.

  70. PJ Wyatt says:

    I applaud your decision. Please let me know how you wish to receive donations. I never found an ad on your site that was worth clicking on for myself, but I am happy to support a site I read daily and from which I learn so much.

  71. PJ Wyatt says:

    Just found your “donate” button.

  72. Art says:

    I just sent you $10 through paypal. Keep up the good work.


  73. Jay Chopra says:

    I never kept a web site as my default until recently when I bumped into yours and immediately decided to keep your site as my default. Todays article justified my action. Even though money is important, and I certainly cannot make up for those lost ads revenue but I am sure you will find it. God bless you for standing up with your convictions. You certainly have my vote and now I shall read your site with more convictions knowing fully well what you stand for. Have a good one!!!! Enjoy

  74. Jennifer says:

    Trent there are lots of other ad places out there. Ones that you approve or deny the ad before it is put up. here is a link to an article someone wrote about one that looks very good, but you need a lot of traffic for them to approve you. I do not have that traffic, but you do, so you should check it out.

  75. Derek Wong says:

    I like that your ethics outweigh any desire for money. Bravo!

  76. Mindanao Bob says:

    Why don’t you add some ad programs where you can actually choose what ads show up? For instance, you could put some Amazon Affiliate stuff here where you can recommend books and other financial related products that you choose.

  77. Mrs. Micah says:

    True Jillian, though I wonder if some readers clicked on ads once in a blue moon as a way of trying to pay Trent back. Just a thought. Not enough to get him suspended by Adsense, of course. But every few months…

  78. Kieran says:

    There are not many people in our society today who will do what they believe is right if it costs them.

    I applaud you and am heading off to make a donation.

  79. Trent,

    What does Dave Ramsey do about all the ads that play during his show? People write in and say “Gee, they are playing Lotto ads, or gambling ads, or payday loans, etc.” Dave laughs them off. After all, it is a waste of the advertisers money.

    Now, I realize that some people are coming here via Google, and clicking on the ads. That is putting money in your pocket. But are they really taking out the payday loans? Or are they reading your site and learning how bad they are? You might just be reaching “The Lost”.

    Just some thoughts. Personally, I run AdBlock Plus. I see no ads.

  80. Tom says:

    Wow, I read your feed so I don’t see the ads, but I highly suggest you work with Project Wonderful:

    They are an ad system made by the creator of Dinosaur Comics, and are used by many websites, mostly webcomics. Basically an advertiser bids, and if someone outbids your lowest bidding advertiser (for that spot/type of ad), their ad replaces the previous. This results in a blog of ads by your READERS. So if someone here wants to advertise their company, you help them out, and by doing so, they pay you. It could be for pennies, it could be for nickels, or quarters, or dollars.

    I think you could do better to make SOME money from this site, and project wonderful is the method I always recommend.

  81. KLW0424 says:

    Way to go! I support your decision to not compromise your ethics for money. I think that most people who visit your site are probably aware of the risks of payday loans etc and would ignore such ads. You seem to be pretty resourcful and I’m sure you will replace that income and more with a new venture. Sometimes when one opportunity closes you’ll see an even better one that you never thought of. Keep up the good work.

  82. AmandaD says:

    Good for you! I applaud your decision. I also read through a Reader, so I only occasionally see (and rarely) notice the ads at the bottom of the feed. I honestly don’t mind b/c I agree that it’s the advertisers wasting money b/c anybody on this website knows better than to use those types of services. GL!

  83. Trent, you should try selling 125×125 button ads. That way, you get a direct sale that needs to get your approval first. You’ll probably end up making more than what Adsense was giving you.

  84. Matt says:

    Congratulations Trent. I’m sure this will pay off for you somehow in the future.

  85. Chris Conley says:

    what a brave move Trent, congrats

    have you looked into booking direct advertisers/affiliates for products/services you support?

    though i can’t claim to be an expert, i’d love to help out if this a direction you want to look at

  86. Laura says:

    Trent, I am really sorry that you had to lose the income. I love this site, and I truly can tell you that I don’t think I’ve ever even noticed the ads. I respect your decision but I know it was a hard one. I have a feeling you are very capable of making up the money!!

  87. Kat says:

    Personally I found the political ads more offensive than any payday loan ad.
    I am glad to read you won’t charge for this site. I wouldn’t pay. I need to save money, not spend it. I do pass your link along to anyone I know or meet that could use some nice sound pf advice.

  88. Jason says:

    I admire your integrity, Trent. I am almost certain with your blog’s popularity you could sell some traditional banner ads from reputable companies that fit your business and personal ethics. Regardless, I’m a big fan of the site and it would take more than payday loan ads to keep me from coming back.

  89. briang467 says:

    Congrats on making the decision to remove the ads.

    Your writing would improve if you stopped using the work “basically”. It is almost never appropriate. Do a search on your site for the term. Now read the passage and skip “basically.” Ahhhhh, better.

    I recommend “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.

  90. Stephan F- says:

    Impressive move Trent.

    The real thing is that you’ll have to replace that income. The content you have here is excellent. You could spend some effort on editing and organizing and turn it into a book, and a seminar you can charge for. A book isn’t going to make you much money but as a front end to get people interested into you and a personal finance seminar. You may have to get some kind of certification before doing so but it may be worth it for you.

    I know you don’t want to charge for this site and that is fine, you don’t have to. You also have a lot of diamonds sitting at your feet. It looks like it is time to do something with them. Clean them off and get them polished and start selling some of them.

  91. SJean says:

    Excellent Trent. I’m really impressed with you!

    I wish you the best of luck making up the income with direct advertising!

  92. Chris A says:

    Good decision. You did the right thing.

  93. Dan says:

    Good move trent… i would recommend locating a new advertisement source. Does anyone know of any companies that do a better job of monitoring/auditing their ad content then Google does?

  94. m says:

    I don’t have the “we all ignore the ads anyway” viewpoint mainly because I think this is about more than jsut whether people are influenced by the shady ads or not. The point is some people try to not support companies and organizations that do things they don’t believe in and don’t advocate. So perhaps (though I don’t know, I’m guessing) Trent doesn’t want to support such companies–whether or not people actually are influenced by the ads seem not as relevant as that by leaving the ads up, he is supporting them by allowing them to exist and seek an audience on his site. And maybe he doesn’t want to support his family by money gained from companies that prey on others, and the like.

    If the only concern is for people being influenced, then I too would say yeah bring back the ads if the income is significant.

    If the issue is more about not wanting to make money from shady enterprises, and not wanting to support those enterprises, then I say–great job, Trent, keep the ads off, and I am very certain you will find other ads, with equal or more profit making potential from reputable businesses whose mission you support. That is a move I fully admire, support, and don’t see very often these days.

  95. brent says:

    you realise that ‘decimate’ technically means ‘to cut the size by 10%’…

  96. brent says:

    I don’t believe that Trents ethics truly outweigh his desire to make money here.

    Part of having an income stream is protecting its integrity. I think he’s right – if peeople came here looking for help and ended up shooting off to shady loan websites that would severely undermine the core business purpose of the site, and undermine its reputation and, ultimately, undermine its ability to make a serious income.

  97. boomer says:

    I eliminated all my ads on my blog also. They defeated my purpose.
    Good for you!

  98. lucas says:

    Well done on the removal of the ads. Ethical choices are often difficult…it’s obvious that you are not allowing yourself to be governed by money. Good on ya!

  99. jake says:

    I’ve notice the ads, but they dont bother me at all, never have. I guess what goes through my head is that I fully understand the whole Google ad sense process, in other words you have no control on what is display. If you did have control i would have said something because then it would make me think that you’re trying to push advertisement, but that’s not the case.

    I hope you do find a way to bring back ads to support your site, I dont want you to go under financially when you are doing a good thing.

  100. Amy says:

    Trent- I know you are getting a lot of advice, but I would be happy to answer any questions you have via email as we had similar issues. We even had issues with a network advertiser we were part of. The breaking point for me was when someone had sent money to a mystery shopping company that apparently had appeared in an article that I had done on mystery shopping and why you should not pay for shopping. It was disheartening and I felt horrible about it.

    We are now in beta testing with a company that I advise for. It has been a completely different experience and so much better for us financially. We only are required to place one advertisement up and they all are beautifully designed and fit well with our look.

    I hope you can find something that fills your needs, but understand that there are many of us out there who feel the pain you had with making that decision!

    Happy holidays to your family!

  101. Soni says:

    Since you’re running WordPress, you might consider installing the “Buy Me A Beer” plugin. Basically, it places donate text and buttons at the end of every post, and also has options for sidebar and other placements.

    There’s a built-in option to change “beer” and the mug icon to “coffee” and a coffee cup. Or, if you’re even moderately “code enabled,” you can go in and hand-twiddle the text and image to whatever you like (say, a piggy bank with the text, “Drop a buck in the bank,” or whatever).

    As the developer notes on his site, experience shows that specific phrasing like “buy me a beer” beats “donate” and related phrases by significant margins when it comes to garnering donations. And since the request comes at the end of every post, when people are sitting back going, “Whoa, that’s great information,” it encourages people to act immediately on that sense of reciprocation.

    One note – when I enabled this on my blog, it had an unfortunate side effect of making it impossible for me to edit sidebar widgets. Dunno if it was a WP issue (WP had just released an update), a template issue, or a problem with this plug in.

    OTOH, since it didn’t affect the actual display of the widgets, and I rarely need to edit them, I can just disable it when I need to edit my plugins and then enable it when I’m done. So, it’ll be going back up on my site when I get around to remembering to do so. :-D

  102. MS says:

    Trent, I appreciate your integrity and commitment to the quality of this site. I don’t know what kind of referral bonuses you are getting from Amazon, but with all of the books you review, you should be able to retire already :)

  103. yang says:

    Trent, i hold the opion: although the ad was not welcomed, but i can just concentrate on the writing. Lefting the ad aside.

  104. Bill says:


    I commend you for your integrity. It’s a quality that seems to be harder and harder to come by these days.

    Anyway, I never noticed the ads since I use my Google Reader to read your blog. If I browse directly here, Adblock does a fine job of keeping things clean.

    I suspect that many others are doing something similar, so it may not be as dire as you think. But then again, don’t let it dissuade you from your path.

    Best wishes,

  105. Eden says:

    Trent, it is so awesome that you did that. I was actually really close to cutting the Google and Text Link Ads from my site recently (and I make virtually no money on my site) for the very same lack of control issue. If you can do it, where the money coming in must be significant, there is no reason I can’t do it. Thanks for inspiring me to step up and stand by my convictions.

  106. Craig says:

    I think it is great that you have convictions and you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, but I think you are really making a big mistake here. What about the other ads that you were showing, for the really great companies that were enjoying excellent referrals from your site? At the very least, open a dialogue with some of the google bloggers about this decision you made. It might not mean much but somebody might listen and start to make small improvements in their adsense program.

    My opinion is different. Revenue is revenue and to cannibalize your biggest source of that (which will not be easy or simple to replace) seems like a silly idea. You write great posts that help people to understand there is a better way to live their lives financially. People know that you are not endorsing your adverts. It can even be a good source of content for you: “Why PAY-DAY loans are a BAD idea” and you know what? Payday loan companies will pay you to advertise on that page due to keyword placement.

    Anyways, I will continue to read your site regardless as you are a truly excellent writer (but do it through RSS — ad free). I just hope you can find it as financially worthwhile when you income from the site goes drastically down.

  107. Laura says:

    I respect your integrity in going this financially painful route.

  108. Sandy Fleming says:

    On the one hand I admire your decision. On the other hand I would not mind one bit your bringing back the ads to earn income. I have never even noticed one ad on your site. Those kind of ads are invisible to me. There is not one thing any of those companies could do or say to lure me to their sites. Do what you feel is best for you…I love reading your blog.

  109. Rob says:

    Trent, I admire your courage and conviction to your principles. In my business I do the same thing. Yes, income may suffer for a while. But equally as important, your decision will allow for a much more restful sleep at night, knowing you did what you believed was best for us. Thanks.
    Best wishes for a bright future,

  110. Clint Lawton says:

    I have noticed the same thing on my site. I think I will be taking the adds off of mine soon.

    Thanks for the thought.

    you rock.

    clint lawton


  111. Kin says:

    You have my respect, Trent. A man of honor and integrity. I share your sentiment of no-ads because that’s how I treat my blog too – a place to share info I learn to help others, hopefully. Good luck on keeping up the income and hitting your goals.

  112. Bloggrrl says:

    Your regular readers are most likely not clicking on the ads. Ads usually get clicked on by people who land on your site via a search engine, and who are not even necessarily looking for the exact information on your site. I enjoy reading your blog, and if the ads enable you to produce your writing in style, then I’d keep them. I don’t even notice them, and I read your site almost daily.

  113. jackbusch says:

    Brilliant! Even if, as several of the commenters aver, removing the ads is just shooting yourself in the foot for the sake of a silly symbolic protest, I wholeheartedly support it. It’s really all we have anymore — silly symbolic protests, that is. I admire you so much for it I’ve rashly donated $10 directly from my savings account, which, I realize is a bit counterintuitive given the nature of this blog. But whatever.



  114. robtwister says:

    Wow, you’ve just made me a lifelong reader. You practice what you preach, and are willing to sacrifice a big money payoff for your principles. For probably 99% of bloggers including myself, I don’t think we would be able to resist the lure of the ads and the monetary benefits. It just makes me respect and believe in The Simple Dollar so much more.

    That said, I wish you would reconsider and add back the ads. I think all your readers want you to both have a successful site, and also for you to be financially rewarded for it. The more revenue you can get out of it, the more you get closer to writing full-time, and everyone benefits. Plus, by now, regular readers are smart enough not to avail of any of the payday loans.

    If you get the opportunity in the future to add the ads back, I think everyone will understand. If you still have concerns, you might want to try AdCenter (Microsoft’s alternative to Google AdSense) or some other product that may be closer to the solution you need.

  115. Michael says:

    Trent, if I have any extra money in my family budget to donate, it is going to a qualified charity and not the Simple Dollar. That being said, I support terminating your blind, shotgun ad approach but suggest you find targeted sponsorship. Personally I never noticed the ads and would not blame you for resuming Google ads until you figure out an alternative, but you should do what you feel is best for your cause. I visit your site daily and do not want to lose it as a resource for debt control and life balance so I encourage you to take advantage of the ad source advice given by your readers and continue to write on with ethics and income.

  116. Mike says:

    Have you ever considering selling an eBook? You have enough content here to make a very nice and respectable eBook quite easily by organizing your best content in one easy to read PDF book.

  117. Macinac says:

    I wondered about the kinds of ads I was seeing. However, I am able to distinguish between the mainline content and the ads. Perhaps this is because I learned long ago to disregard them and get on with my own agenda. Based on this reasoning, and if I am the target audience, you could keep them. Like the rest of us, you also need income, and I’d rather ignore some ads than have to pay ;-)

  118. Michael says:

    To echo many others, the ads didn’t bother me, but I’m a regular reader who sees most of the postings through Bloglines and, thus, misses most of the ads.

    It sounds like you did what you felt was right, and that it wasn’t an impulsive decision.

    Maybe the ads that would be bought by advertisers for the cooking blog would be less onerous? ;-)

    Best of luck…

  119. Rob says:

    Trent, just sent some money your way via Paypal (using your donate button). I am now going to view this blog as a paid subscription to a newsletter. And you are worth the money, my friend. Keep up the excellent work.

  120. JT says:

    I read your site in RSS, so I never even saw the ads. I wonder how many other people don’t even go to your site, except by proxy?

    Ah, well. My principles are often interfering with my ability to make money, too :)

    Once my debt snowball diminishes in size, I’ll try to send you a bit of coin.

  121. Mark says:

    Trent, knowing you from your articles-I’m sure what you have done is a smart move and not one made impulsively – ad sense pays peanuts – what you hope by giving Google the boot is to get more dedicated sponsor ads(high paying ads) which I’m sure you would get. What I disagree is the justification you are giving – making it sound like a favor to the readers. All the best.

  122. JT says:

    Thank you. I did not notice the ads nor would I ever use a paycheck whatever service but I appreciate your passion behind your “brand” for this site.

  123. Chris says:

    Count me in as a paid subscriber, Trent. You’re content is consistently top notch and well worth a monthly donation. Marry Christmas!

  124. Ryan says:

    An individual who stands their ground… Good for you!

  125. Balaji Dutt says:

    Hi Trent,

    A long time reader of your Blog (via the feed) but first time commenter.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to take this decision – you have mentioned before that The Simple Dollar represents a significant source of income for you.

    It’s really great that you are thinking of your casual visitors and not just the regular readers. All the best in your bold experiment!

  126. xyz says:

    Thats a brave decision but I wouldn’t mind if the ads are back – I’ve never really noticed them.

  127. Louise says:

    Bravo. I just made my first donation to your site. Even though my Firefox blocks all the ads anyway, I appreciate your doing the right thing ethically.

  128. Kapil Kaisare says:

    Honor. I’m impressed.

    Keep up the good work. I’ve a suspicion that removing those ads will only work better for you – the site is loading faster at my end already.

    Best you find another way to make money off the site though. I’ve noticed you removed the Amazon ads as well. Was that necessary?

  129. tightwadfan says:

    Wow, the comments for this article are fascinating and revealing. What a range of moral standards. These comments could be used for an ethics course.

    It doesn’t matter if every reader of this site is too smart to ever click on an ad. The point is Trent’s message shouldn’t be contradicted by the ads, and he shouldn’t make money from companies he disagrees with.

    I don’t have a huge problem with financial bloggers that use Adsense, I know they’re just trying to make money, but I have noticed the irony that most of the sites that are promoting financial intelligence display ads for products that no financially smart person would use.

    I too admire your decision to put your beliefs before money and will be donating to support you.

  130. Lincoln says:

    This blog gets better all the time, and I’ve just started reading recently!

    The comment above expresses my opinion exactly. Well done!
    Integrity counts for a lot these days, although i guess it always has.

    Keep up the good work!

  131. Ranjan says:

    I admire you for this decision. I’m sure this will help you in taking this blog to greater heights and eventually the money would be bigger than adsense.

    I removed adsense too. But at present I have very less traffic.It’s courageous when you are actually making a tidy sum from adsense!

  132. 144mph says:

    Huge Kudos, Trent! I know you’ve mentioned this problem before and I was interested in how you would resolve it. Glad to see you’ve made the right choice as I knew you would. Your site has such high quality and organization and your writing is easily in the highest tier. It’s refreshing to see a blogger with such a high personal standard for the total impression that a site exhibits.

  133. Roxie says:

    I read at many many frugal blog sites, newsletters, and just plain web sites. (I am not really computer savvy) I admire what you have done with your site, I understand why you removed the ads, but they would never bother me while reading your message. Like ads on TV I have learned to ignore them. I understand that they are a ‘nessary evil’ to keep the TV shows on the air etc.
    It makes me snicker to myself when I see such ads on the Living On A Dime site for example. I know that Tawra would not use the products advertised. I think that most people do have blinders on when it comes to advertisment.
    I came to your site yesterday through the blog Like Merchant Ships…I love her blog. I book marked your site and I know I will be back to read when I have time.
    Thank you for the wonderful message you put out there. I think we all need to push the frugal message. Roxie

  134. Jennifer says:

    Way to walk the talk Trent. I admire your desire to live life consistently, and while I have not clicked on the ads myself, I too have ethical problemns with payday loans and such and appreciate your willingness to make this stand. Keep up the great writing.

  135. Fathersez says:

    Good for you.

    Still, most people who read blogs know that these ads are not on the basis of specific approval from you.

    So I doubt they (or we) would take offense.

    Saying no to these ads, which are the main reason for so many blogs to exist, speaks volumes for your stand on principles.

  136. Karen says:

    When you stick to your mission and maintain an alignment with that mission you know you’re doing what is right. And when you do what is right for you, everything will fall into place.

    There is an energy to everything and I think people miss the fact that you have to be ALL THE WAY or NONE OF THE WAY.

    I’m inspired by your example

  137. Tim says:

    Wow, the money I could have made if I hadn’t stuck to my principles… I guess I’ll never know!
    Anyway, hope you read this one, I hadn’t the time or inclination to read all those comments but I’ve had an idea for replacement revenue.

    Have you published a book? You have some really good advice here and if you compile it right, it would make a really good book. I would recommend lulu.com for publishing as its really flexible and helpful for first timers and small timers.

    You could even plug it on this site.

  138. telly says:

    If people want to find access to pay day loans they will find them on their own accord. And I’m just guessing here but what are the chances someone reading “The Simple Dollar” will click on a payday loan? Pretty slim I’d think.

    Nonetheless, I hope you find a way to make up the lost cash flow – you do a great job here and are deserving of some monetary rewards for all your hard work.

  139. beth says:

    I applaud your integrity. that is just another reason why I recommend your blog to everybody!

    your readers can now step up and donate to this valuable resource.

  140. Myra Marino says:

    Dear Trent,

    Thank God for people who still have ethics. I love your site and can’t quite remember how I found it. Your site is my financial bible. I did sign up for your e-letter as well.

    I’m glad you took the ads out because I found them very distracting. And trust me I don’t want to miss anything you have to say about finances. Your blog is the best yet, and as we go into a new year, I will do my very best to become a big supporter of this Blog. The Simple Dollar is truly worth it’s weight in Gold.

    Best wishes to your and your family this holiday season.

    Myra Marino
    Philadelphia, PA

  141. Stephanie says:

    If you do what you believe, it’ll come back to you. I think you made a good choice, and a tough one. Congratulations Trent, it’s inspiring to see such integrity.

  142. Lisa says:

    I thoroughly applaud your conviction to present a united message by not accepting support from companies that you find unethical..!!! It was a sound decision by a thoughtful, dedicated man. I, too would refuse to accept money from shady people or practices. Kudos to you & God Bless You and Yours :) OTOH, your stand has been a blessing in disguise, by bringing these other possible strategies to your awareness from your many friends & admirers.

  143. Lisa says:

    p.s. am also donating, just bcz I admire your stand so much (as well as your usual content). Keep up the good work!!!

  144. Toni (male) says:

    Hi Trent, I have made a donation (my best). Thank you very much.

  145. Brian says:

    Amazing. I don’t know what your background is in marketing, but you might be able to approach individual companies (that offer more prudent financial services) directly and try to arrange an advertising deal. I would imagine one or two deals from a company like ING or Vanguard would be worth more than all the revenue from AdSense. Also, some of the other posters are right. The best way to earn some money from thesimpledollar would be to take a collection of your favorite posts and try to compile them into a book by themselves. I’m sure a publishing company would be interested just based on the amount of site traffic you’re already getting, and you could use your blog to plug the book and sell a bunch of copies. I’m sure you’ve probably thought of this, but just my $0.02. Keep up the good work!

  146. sam says:

    I fully support your decision. The site looks much cleaner and and now that all the ads are gone the user can more easily focus on your great content.

    And as source for more income, I agree with the commenter a few comments above mentioning a book or ebook as an option. I would definitely support you if you decided to go this route.

    Keep up the great work. I look forward to many more interesting articles to read in the coming year.

  147. paidtwice says:

    I told my spouse about what you did (removing adsense) and his first question was “How’d his wife take it?”

    So now I wonder – how is your wife feeling about your decision?

  148. Amanda says:

    I truly commend you for your integrity, Trent. Though I always read your site around the ads, I agree that having advertising you can’t control and/or that is antithetical to the message of your site could be distracting.

    Hopefully there is some way to replace the income you’re otherwise losing. It’s quite a shame that honesty comes at such a high price.

  149. Tyler says:

    I think this was a good decision Trent. People will never remember you for the amount of money you made, but for the content of your character. By you removing Ad$ense ads from you site, you’re sticking to what is right and morally good. I applaud you. God Bless You Trent!

  150. Steve says:

    I’ll join the minority of commenters congratulating you for following your heart and doing what you KNOW was the right thing. The Internet (and world!) needs more people like you that are strong enough to stand up for and act on what they know in their hearts is the right, good, honest, and true thing to do. Now while doing that with questionable ads on a website probably can’t be considered an earth-shattering move of nobility, of speaks volumes for who you truly are and what you stand for.
    I believe for that reason that you will be rewarded/other doors will open for you. It is the law of attraction – the universe will respond in kind…

  151. Patrick says:

    LOL… I read your comment paidtwice and thought the same thing. I am sure Trent’s wife is supportive of the fact this was not a decision Trent made lightly.

  152. CheapGirl says:

    Hopefully you can easily replace the ads with more you can control…part of the reason I enjoy your site is that I know it is a side income to you that is sort of passive & that gives others hope to make money doing something they love.

    Maybe contacting Google about your problem might get you somewhere? Surely it’s in their best interest to give the people that are bringing them money a product that they feel good about using. I doubt you’re the only person with this problem w/ Google ads.

  153. Cypher says:

    Trent Kudos to you. That was a brave thing to do. Maybe you could contact a reputable financial service directly for advertisement. I have to say though that I did not notice the change. I use firefox with the extension Ad-block so I never see any ads. Best of luck in the future.

  154. Madelaine says:

    I appreciate the difficult ethical decision and stepped up to donate. Keep up the good work.

  155. Betty Ann of New York City says:

    Put back the advertisement……..I was on another site where they started charging.. first people paid; but then the next year they pulled back; they were there to save money NOT spend on another item each month. They went to other sites that were FREE.
    I’m living month to month; and here to save for retirement (I do have a house with 200,000.00 Equity almost)…but won’t get a pension since I freelance. I’m trying to learn to get motivated to earn more; since I’m already 99% frugal; any thing I cut would then be deprivation.

  156. Brad says:

    I say leave the ads to generate income. If people are reading your material, then they are smart enought to not click on the inappropriate ads. I listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio sometimes and hear credit cards and pay day loans ads . . . what are those advertisers thinking?? :)

  157. Andy says:

    I am really impressed with your decision. I enjoy reading personal finance blogs, but frankly, some of them have more ads than the superbowl. And in some cases the ads seem to contradict the message of the blogger.

    Personally, I prefer clean sites with a few, well-placed ads that mirror the site’s mission and objectives.

    There’s an old saying “right is right”. I believe your decision was the right move.


  158. Dawn says:

    Trent, I was/am one of the “desparate” to which you referred. I found your site via a wee-hours-of-the-morning Google search just as you described. I am impressed by what I have read so far, even more so by your recent decision to give GoogleAds the boot. I am relentlessly spreading the word about your site. Thanks for great content.

  159. erbe says:

    I applaud your sense of ethics. If there isn’t another advertising company that allows you to control the ads on your site-have you thought about being the one who starts such a business? You obviously have what it takes to start a project such as this and finish it. And there are probably a lot of potential customers out there who would appreciate some type of alternative that would allow them to control the ads that appear on their sites. That would be a way to bring in money without compromising your ethics. I wouldn’t judge you for deciding to include ads, most of us realize they are a necessity. But I think it is a shame ethical people don’t have many alternatives.

  160. Amy K. says:


    As someone who DID click through on a payday loan ad yesterday, though purely out of curiosity, I want to applaud you for taking down the ads that do not support your message. I hope you can bring back ads in some fashion in the future, with products that you feel fit your message. In the interim, I hope my donation helps – I do appreciate all of the excellent writing you do here.

  161. steph says:

    I admire your convictions, but FWIW, I don’t even “see” ads. I block them out and focus on content. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!

  162. lisa says:

    I really enjoy your blog and totally appreciate & support this difficult decision. I would be more than happy to donate a reasonable sum to keep your site available to all for free (which it is my impression that you desire to do).

    Thanks again for all your inspiring words!

  163. Fatcat says:

    Have you tried commission junction? They let you choose your advertisers.

  164. Steve W says:

    A noble sentiment, but give your readers more credit for being able to discern & ignore these ads.

    I say: bring them back if its in your financial best interest. Maybe you could insert a disclaimer below the ads?

    Also — any response from Google on this issue?

  165. Ryan S. says:


    I’m a relatively new personal finance blogger using adsense on my site; I haven’t seen ads I have a real problem with on my site (yet), but I admire your integrity.

    Good luck to you, Trent.

  166. Stephanie says:

    When looking to someone for advice, it’s important that I can actually trust their word, and not expect that they’re looking to make an easy buck. It’s a very rare quality nowadays, and when I see it, I take notice. When you cancel your ads because you don’t agree with them, that’s making a statement to me that you act on your beliefs, and that your word is worth trusting. It means a lot.

    Whether or not I noticed the ads is a moot point.

    Thanks for the blog Trent, and I look forward to your book when it comes out ;)

  167. Steve says:

    I’ve trained myself to ignore and distruct internet ads – thus I’ve never even noticed the ads on your site :-)

  168. Cristy says:

    Trent, your ads never bothered me in the least – seemed a little humorous sometimes, but six months ago I about dropped to my knees when I saw my family-geared weblog that features my young childeren’s photographs sporting a “see Megan and other hot chicks” add from Maxim. Yeah. I removed adsense too. There has to be a simple way to guide content – Google??? Are you listening???

  169. Catherine Neff says:

    Integrity is important. Thanks.

  170. Jamie says:

    It takes a big man to make that choice, Trent. I don’t know that I could do it, myself.

    I couldn’t give much, but I hope my contribution helps keeps you going.

    Keep up the great work.

  171. I have mentioned this inspiration on my forum: “Act of integrity – Trent Hamm” (http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5095)

    My hat is off to you, Mr. Hamm. It is refreshing to see someone to whom the word “honor” means something important.


  172. Ria Kennedy says:

    Hi Trent: I think it is very important that none of us compromises our own personal integrity and values. I think though you must be crafty to be noble. Maybe you can sell special papers you write in addition to your blog posts to bring in extra income. Good luck.

  173. miguel says:

    Trent, as person who reads your blog daily, I’ve never taken issue with the Ads. Most of them are for unsavory services, but it’s very obvious that they are google ads. It could be because I’m familiar with them, but I’ve never been bothered.

    I wish you the best, and I hope you don’t do anything that could affect your financial goals.

  174. I applaud your willingness to stand up for what you believe in. I am still fighting the filter on my site. It is embarrassing when someone you know asks, “You allow that ad on your sight?” I am not where you are yet, but I understand it.

    Best Wishes,

  175. For what it is worth, I’ve never worried about ads on a site. For me they are just part of free sites. Afterall someone has to pay for the hosting the domain name.

    If I like a blogger I tend to click on their ads as a way of saying: I liked your post here’s a tip.

    Yet it really is up to you. There are many ways to have ads on a site that grant you more control if that is what you want.

    Best of luck and happy holidays,

  176. Eibhlin says:

    That’s a tough decision, but it puts you one step ahead of the pack.

    A lot of people–including me–are using free AdBlock software so that we never even see the ads as we visit websites. That’s growing in popularity; my AdSense income has dropped to about 25% of what it was a year ago, and I suspect that much of that is because so many people have blocked ads.

    Many webmasters and bloggers are rethinking how we’re going to afford the time/money we put into our websites, without income from ads. Frankly, I think that this is a good thing. It’s not easy, but it’s important.

  177. Jens says:

    You’re awesome! We’ll live our lives with integrity, and be the change we wish to see in the world. Thanks for leading the way. The little things we do make a difference – not just in personal finance. Keep up the good work!

  178. Phil says:

    It never offended me. I figured you needed some source of income to continue providing this valuable service, and if those businesses wanted to pay you, what the heck. Obviously no one in their marketing departments noticed what viewpoint they were supporting! My favorite (Bulgarian) proverb: “It is permitted in times of great danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge.” I hope you find other sources of support, but if not, do what you have to do to insure both your income and the continuation of this blog.

  179. imelda says:

    Many people seem willing to donate something to help your costs. Would you be willing to do a fundraising drive, with a specific target goal? Another website I know of does this once a year, to cover operating costs only. Having a target really encourages people to contribute.

    Obviously, since you’re hoping for more than operating costs, it might be a bit difficult. I don’t know.

  180. imelda says:

    Many people seem willing to donate something to help your costs. Would you be willing to do a fundraising drive, with a specific target goal? Another website I know of does this once a year, to cover operating costs only. Having a target really encourages people to contribute.

    Obviously, since you’re hoping for more than operating costs, it might be a bit difficult. I don’t know.

    As a note, the ads never bothered me. But I hear what you’re saying about casual readers.

  181. Tracey says:

    As someone who works closely with the “internet marketing” crowd, I commend your decision. It’s refreshing to see a well written blog that isn’t all about the $. Even though it’s all about $.

  182. Dawn says:

    I regularly read the blog, and I have been bothered a couple of times by ads on here-I guess I never realized how adsense worked, so I didn’t know that you didn’t approve them. So, from my perspective, you made the right decision. That said, I do hope that good advertisers find you. I would think Vanguard or ING Direct, or other products that you regularly advocate would want to be in.

  183. Cory says:

    The Adsense ads never bothered me since I usually read from Google reader =)

  184. jana says:

    this is a very rare thing to see nowadays. you can be very proud of your ethical ways.

  185. Tall Bill says:

    WOW Trent! Preaching morals and following through as nessary! You’re a very noble memorable man. Carry on & don’t look back – the path always moves forward positively. God Bless & Merry Christmas.

  186. Ben says:

    Seems silly to me.

    If you feel guilty, use some percentage of the money to buy ads for this site so that when people search for “payday loans” or something like that they see you ad.

  187. QuiteLight says:

    Good for you. Being true to yourself & your beliefs at the expense of wealth; you are a rare beastie indeed, and I’m proud of you.

  188. Monica says:

    Honestly, I never even noticed an ad. Maybe it’s because I’m desensitized to them because they truly are everywhere. But congrats on sticking to your morals.

  189. Dave says:

    I commend you Trent! I support your decision. There are so many great comments on here and I wanted add mine. I have been a loyal reader for the past few months and I think your site is great. Your posts are easy to read and your points are sound with solid explanations.

  190. RD says:

    Kudos, Trent!

  191. Pam says:

    I’ve purchased several books from Amazon that you have reviewed. I hope you can receive some kind of income from Amazon or publishers, if your book reviews lead to a sale.

  192. Anthony says:

    If you hadn’t have blogged on the change I’d never have noticed. Then again, I don’t really click on ads (or notice them apparently), so I might be in the minority on that.

  193. American Kiwi says:

    I haven’t read all the replies to this question buy my (selfish) advice is to go ahead and run the ads and bring in your income because I have come to read your blog daily, but am too cheap to pay for a subscription, but would really miss reading your material. Why am I ok with the ads? I run Adblock on Firefox, so I never see them anyway (I told you it was selfish advice) so its win-win. You get paid, I get advice. The world is a better place!

  194. EdTheRed says:

    Food for thought: You could give everyone a link to Ad Block Plus for Firefox, and keep running ads on your site.

  195. NP says:

    I have never read the ads on your site (or really noticed them). I deliberately don’t read ads on websites though. You did the right thing and hopefully will bounce back soon.

  196. Silverrain says:

    Kudos for ditching the bad ads! I hope you find a better solution. Merry Christmas.

  197. Shevy says:

    Trent, I’m very impressed by your integrity. Not many people would do what you’ve done. In fact, I’ve recently found PF bloggers who write “blog entries” that are actually sponsored by companies! Yuck! I really have problems with that kind of behavior. Your site, in contrast, has always looked so much cleaner and simpler than the ad-driven sites (and that was *before* today!).

    I hope that your decision doesn’t cause you a significant financial loss (although most of your regular readers seem to either block ads or ignore them, which would seem to limit ad revenue to random “drop in” readers). It would really be a pity if you had to put your plans on the back burner because of this.

  198. All you could have done was marked the ads as sponsors or as advertisements. Then people will no think that you are promoting them right (come on readers too have brains.. right?)

    Or you could google adsense referral ads. These you have full control on what you want to display. right ?

    You can still do all this be a top earner this christmas onwards…

    Merry Christmas..

    Tech For Novices

  199. StockTube says:

    it’s indeed a difficult decision to make since the monetary returns were quite attractive …

    bravo on taking the bold step …

    cheers …

  200. Noel T says:

    The ads are just ads – a way of earning income. Noticed some of the other comments have already shown viable options of restoring income. Otherwise, just continue running the ads – but highlight it in such a way that everyone knows how to avoid it.

    All the best, it’s a good decision. But tough.

  201. Bobbyc says:

    Thanks Trent for setting the bar and reminding us that it’s important to have peace of mind. I’m in the process of setting up a blog now and you certainly lead by example. Keep the readers first and you will succeed. Best of luck!

  202. DefogMyBlog says:

    I can see that the nature of your blog is unfortunately going to attract those sorts of ads which really jar with your site. I’m hoping to experiment with adsense in 2008 and will have to keep a careful eye on it.

  203. Matt says:

    I think you should bring back the ads if they generate a bunch of money for you. You work hard and deserve the compensation for it. People read your site for the content and not the ads. People also realize that ads of all sorts appear on Web sites and don’t associate the ad with the site.

    I’m sure it’s a pain to block the bad ads, but if you calculate the hourly wage for the time it takes to block them then it might not seem like such and annoyance.


  204. DaveL says:

    I’d never seen your blog until ProBlogger reported on your decision today. You probably didn’t anticipate the stir you would create, but I bet your readership shot up as a result. Serendipity strikes when we least expect it.

    That said, I am dumbfounded neither you nor most of your followers have looked into affiliate programs that put the publisher in full control. Top of my list is Amazon.com’s Amazon Associates with its Performance Fee structure (“You earn a referral fee each time a customer you’ve referred to Amazon.com makes a purchase”). But Amazon takes it a step further. They pay commission to unlimited depths on every purchase made during a session initiated via a link from your site. That’s not just on books, although in your field I’m sure there are numerous authors whose works you would happily display.

    ClickBank is one of many others who don’t force unacceptable advertisers on you a la AdSense. It’s a lot like visiting a thrift shop, though, you have to sort through a lot of junk to find gems to place on your site.

    My dilemma is I like the site analysis provided by Google. That’s the only reason I’ve kept their banner on my site, http://www.myemergencymedicalfile.com. Is there another way to get similar quality free analytics?

  205. Alvin Chan says:

    Actually you can opt for alternatives like adbrite where you can control what type of advertisers will appear on your site.

  206. Erica says:

    I have an amazing amount of respect for you – precisely because you’re willing to take an ethical stand. I have learned and gained more from you and a handful of other “money” blogs in the past year, and I think that the frank and extraordinarily honest conversation about money offered here and at a select few other places is a huge part of why I’m getting my financial life in order. The fact that you respect and care about your readers this much is why I’ll be donating.

    Ignore the people who say to bring the offending ads back. Do what you think is right – as I have no doubt you will.

  207. vh says:

    From Tom: “This results in a blog of ads by your READERS. So if someone here wants to advertise their company, you help them out, and by doing so, they pay you. It could be for pennies, it could be for nickels, or quarters, or dollars.”

    Whoa! That’s a great idea. Trent, I would cheerfully pay you to run an ad for my business on you site. And I promise: it’s not a payday loanshark outfit!

  208. Liz says:

    Hi Trent,
    I think it is great that you took down the ads. I enjoy reading personal finance blogs but it seems odd to me that so many of them run advertisements that go against what they are preaching. Have you looked at dosh dosh? It is a blog about monetising websites. It seems to me that the most profitable blogs don’t use adsense. Your blog is so popular that it seems like you should devote some energy into figuring out other ways to make money from it. Good luck and happy holidays.

  209. Tom says:

    Bring the ads back!

  210. I really admire your convictions. Applaud you! Honestly I don’t think this is something any publisher should have to do. Google really should put into place a standards system for adword advertisers so these shady people can’t advertise on their networks.

    I know they’ve made some strides with the quality control landing page feature and recently the addition of manage ads feature for adsense publishers but they really should actively look to remove these shady advertisers so publishers can focus on producing good content.

    Business-wise I understand Google’s predicament. I’m sure a large part of their income comes from those shady advertisers so getting rid of them may lose them a lot of money. But as websites visitors become more savvy and realize those adsense ads are being served by google and not the actual website owners, the google brand may suffer. So either way they may end up losing. I just don’t know what the clear solution is. But again I applaud your decision.

    You can monetize your site by hand picking affiliate programs and promoting them on your site. Pay per lead programs can easily surpass the income you were earning with adsense. I know I’ve done more of that with some of my websites so I wasn’t as dependent on adsense. Pay per lead programs are now paying me more then adsense. So it’s something you should consider and you get to handpick the advertisers.

    Eddy Salomon

  211. Pam says:

    Hi Trent,
    I’d noticed the Payday loan and credit card ads before on your site and while I understand 1) the need to generate an income and 2) the fact that you can’t always control what appears through AdSense, the ads bothered me because they were such a contradiction to what your site stands for. I think it’s great that you removed them and agree with other comments here about charging a small subscription fee or offering advertising opportunities to other small businesses. Best of luck!

  212. DJ says:

    Isn’t Google planning to add more controls like what you would require. I’d like more control too. I get some “interesting” ads on my site for beer, some bordering on not safe for work.

  213. mbkonef says:

    Congratulations for putting your money where your mouth is and standing up for your convictions. You are always talking about the importance of “following your heart” and I think this is what you are doing by taking the ads off. I personally never noticed them but I can fully understand the importance of not advertising something that you not only do not believe it, but know to be harmful to people. If you did not already have my respect for your thought provoking posts (and you already did) you certainly would now. Follow your own advice, continue to follow your heart and one way or another the money will come!

  214. Donald says:

    I value your site a lot. It’s one of my two favorate personal finance sites. Although I don’t pay attention to the ads, I think you did great. I applaud and respect you.

  215. Kaash says:

    well, i think google adsense ads are informative and relevant to the contents and work as additional resources.
    But its your choice but remember you’re remove not only ads but also big revenue which can help you paying cost of hosting and other costs.


  216. Chris says:

    do you have the actual click through numbers for those ads, or is this just a huge overreaction based on a gut feeling? Aren’t you the one always talking about not going with gut feelings?

  217. Tobias says:

    You made the right decision. I had started reading personal finance blogs earlier this year. However, I stopped reading them regularly after a month or so (even though they all don’t have these types of ads) because it struck me as hypocritical that most of the people preaching good personal finance habits are earning income from advertisers trying to sell poor personal finance habits.

    I believe something better is in store for you for taking a stand on values, and at least this blog has earned a reader back for practicing what you preach.

  218. Matt says:

    Hey Trent,

    I don’t know if you’ll get to read this but I came across the article (http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/12/03/who_clicks_on_a.html) today about who clicks on ads. You might be interested in this.

    ‘Who are these “heavy clickers”? They are predominantly female, indexing at a rate almost double the male population. They are older. They are predominantly Midwesterners, with some concentrations in Mid-Atlantic States and in New England. What kinds of content do they like to view when they are on the Web? Not surprisingly, they look at sweepstakes far more than any other kind of content. Yes, these are the same people that tend to open direct mail and love to talk to telemarketers.’

  219. Andrea_R says:

    I switched to Blogads.com – you have to approve each ad, and it’s on a block format. Easy to do. :)

    It’s invite-only though, but you can set your own process for the ads, and I found it more reliable and steady with better advertisers.

  220. Susan says:

    That’s a truly commendable move! It’s my feeling that once you put your principles first, the rest of your life eventually falls into place. I’m sure you’ll suddenly find yourself with innovative new revenue streams.

  221. Justin Dupre says:

    I’m not so sure I would be able to make the trade off from a bunch of money, to none like so. I commend you.

    The site does look much prettier though.

  222. Shaun Carter says:

    I found this post by way of ProBlogger and would just like to make sure you are aware that there are plenty of other ad networks out there that give the publisher complete control over the content of the ads displayed on their pages.

    Examples include AdBrite, Text Link Ads, various affiliate programs, and many more. You should really look into these other programs so you don’t need to make the sacrifice of lower income.

  223. J.B. says:

    Trent, you are a man with values. Good for you. I’m often discouraged when I visit a PF blog advocating smart use and saving of money that advertises for payday loans, etc.

    I don’t mind other ads at all, I hope that’s something you can integrate back in and choose what types of things to promote, so your revenue stream isn’t affected. But the payday ones aren’t ethical from a website that’s devoted to PF.

  224. Gina says:

    The fact that you were getting any income at all from Adsense ads suggests that your fears are based in truth – desperate visitors with no idea how to make positive changes are clicking through to these advertisers. Because the ads appear on your site, they probably think these are solutions endorsed by you. While a great many of your visitors are only looking for validation of their own decisions, many more may be easily swayed by advertising – if ads didn’t work, they wouldn’t pay to show them.

    I support your decision, though I’d suggest that you look into another ad/income source. Amazon.com can offer options with greater control.

  225. Nursecap says:

    No doubt your decision was a hard one, but really commendable considering you eliminated a good source of income. There aren’t a lot of people who would have done what you did.

  226. Gilad says:

    I solute you. Taking control over your ads very important, how ever I think that the right ads could add value for the readers of your site.

    to select vertical ad networks that can appeal to your readers

  227. Brian says:

    I can’t judge the ads on your site, Mozilla and Ad-Block Plus and a few other add-ons prevented me from ever seeing them to being with, but I applaud your taking a stand based on your principles.

  228. Rob in Madrid says:

    You are correct that people won’t pay for a subscribtion. Everything is free on the interent, paid for by advertising. That’s the trade off.

    Understandly mostly readers myself included are concerned that this is a business not a charity, doing something for free only goes so far. Noticed Ads on getrichslowly but his seem targeted, no dodgey ads there. Dave Ramsey makes money by selling things.

    good luck

  229. Coryan says:

    I’ve never been to your site, but followed the ProBlogger link to this post. First time visit, but I will be back! Your actions of removing the ads speaks more for solid financial principles than the volumes of trash sold each day as “financial advice”. The credit vultures lost this fight…and you’ve won a reader!

  230. Andrea K. says:


    It takes a lot of integrity for a person to do what you have done. I hope you’re able to make use of other means to supplement the income you will be losing as a result of your decision. As others have said, there are more ad networks that are our there, and some of them can give you the control over the ad content that you really do need with this site, and you could also make use of affiliate programs that you feel are appropriate.

    Considering the number of personal finance books you review, you could probably pitch quite a few of them to your readers with little difficulty. I would definitely order some of them through links provided on the site if you chose to do that. I wouldn’t be as willing to pay for a subscription to the site.

    I guess what I really want to say is this: as long as you do what you feel is the right thing to do, everything will fall into place for you.

  231. Tommy says:

    Wow! What a bold move. This is the first post I’ve read from you. I congratulate you on your principles and wish you the best of luck. You will be blessed for your efforts.

  232. Chris says:

    You could try looking into something like http://adpinion.com/. In theory the collaborative filter will keep people from ever seeing adds they don’t like.

  233. Quite impressive that you made the move! You will find a more lucrative method to achieve your selective ad purpose. Direct selling pays better but requires a lot of traffic, which you definitely have! Happy 2008!

  234. I give you supreme kudos for nixing the advertisements. When your site is doing as much traffic as it is, it is hard to turn away from a dollar. You are one of the good ones!


  235. Andy says:

    Hey – your adsense ads are back? What happended to the ethical dilemma, or is Greed too Good?

  236. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    If you read through the comments, my readers were pretty clear that I should abandon this and put the ads back. So I did some research, developed a system for flagging unethical AdSense ads, and brought them back:

  237. Jacky says:

    YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!! You know how you always talk about how valuable your time is? You would have spent (unconsious) time worrying over the ads, and you would have been upset with yourself. You can’t underestimate the value of knowing you aren’t purposely trading your values for your income. AND, I remember reading that the Google ads payment is not actually competitive; that there are better paying ads out there.
    You review books so much, why not approach Amazon/Barnes & Noble/other booksellers to see if they would like to advertise on your site? Or people who give financial seminars who do a good job in your opinion. There is really no limit to your potential for advertisers who you can feel good about promoting. And, nowthat you still like yourself, your relationships with your wife and children won’t suffer either. Actually, keeping the AdSense would have been pretty expensive for you in the long run.

  238. I’ve never done adSense on my blog, although I thought about it. I ended up signing up with Google Ad Affiliates, which is different. You can choose your advertisers, and even which ads you want to feature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *