Hey everyone! This past week, I did an interview with Brian Bienkowski, from Debt.com. They’ve featured some of my content in the past, and wanted to do a blog profile, keeping things light and fun. The primary focus of the interview was on the whole ‘anonymity’ thing.
It was a fun experience, something I’d like to do more of. In particular, I found it interesting to see how the original content was edited, then pared down to the final product.
It’s not a long article by any stretch, (don’t tell anyone, but I’m not really that interesting 😉 ). Still, I thought it would be cool to write a follow up post and include the additional content from the interview. You know, the stuff that found it’s way onto the cutting room floor. : )
Below is the interview in it’s (almost) entirety. I left out a few sections to improve the flow. I also cleaned up my sentence structure in a couple of places to make it more readable. If you do happen to make it to the end, or you just want the abridged version, head on over to debt.com for the final product. Thanks for reading! : )
Why do you remain anonymous?
I guess there are a couple of reasons. As ironic as it may seem, I feel like I can be more honest with my writing. In other words, anonymity provides a freedom of expression that I don’t know I would feel otherwise. I think that I might be tempted to filter my content if I knew it would be read by all of my friends, colleagues and family. It could also serve to stifle the creative process.
My wife and my mom and a couple of close friends read my stuff though, which is nice because I feel like they keep me accountable, there’s no anonymity with them. 🙂
The other reason is just a desire to separate my creative pursuits from my day to day life, the 9-5 etc. I’m also a songwriter, and while I don’t carry anonymity with that, I still prefer to keep it separate from everything else.
(Asked to expand on my answer above, I provided the following detail)….
I’ll give you a couple of examples of where I may struggle to be completely honest in my writing, if I wasn’t doing so anonymously:
I write a lot about the negative impact of excessive consumerism, the silliness of people going into large amounts of debt to buy fancy houses and $50,000 pickup trucks. But I have friends and family, and colleagues who do just that. They don’t see things through the same lens that I do, they have different priorities, and I respect that.
If I knew they would be reading my content, and it may cause them to feel badly, as though I thought less of them for decisions they’ve made, then I would be very reluctant to write how I truly feel about that stuff. My purpose is not for anyone to feel judged, but to help people make smarter decisions. After all, I’ve made plenty of poor financial decisions myself over the years. However, I realize that people close to me may not take it that way.
I also write about things like side hustles, breaking the 9-5, and my own goals for financial independence. Frankly, I’d rather my employer not know about those plans at present 🙂
Why do you think people take money advice from an anonymous source?
I think that people can discern pretty quickly whether or not the content they’re reading has substance, has depth, no matter what the source. You can’t fake it, people see through fluff, through crap. I’ve encountered many known, or “named” blogs, that are completely insincere with their message, and questionable in their motivation.
What I will say is that, if you are choosing anonymity, you had better work that much harder at connecting and building relationships, as you are lacking that visual presence.
In my case, I happen to be this super relational person, who values people above just about everything. I have these amazing readers, and I have to trust that they can sense my sincerity, my desire to help and connect in a meaningful way!
Have you had anyone question your validity because you don’t provide a name?
No, but I actually look forward to that moment! I don’t think anyone should strive for 100% consensus. I value opposing views, other perspectives. It’s helped me to grow as a person, to better understand other points of view.
You know, it’s funny, because when I started my blog, I figured that my anonymity was something unique, that it would be a way of differentiating myself from other bloggers. Little did I know that it’s actually very common, and not unique at all. It shows you how ignorant I was when I started out! 🙂
What is the craziest/dumbest thing that you’ve helped someone overcome financially? Example, bought a house they couldn’t afford or cars, diamond rings, etc.
I was a financial advisor for many years. I’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of clients get through some pretty rough stuff. Helping people recover financially after tragic events such as a divorce, or the death of a spouse are pretty high on the list. Those are the times when you feel as though you’ve really made a difference, as the situation can seem hopeless for those involved. At those times they become very dependent upon you for advice.
What is the financially craziest/dumbest thing that you’ve done?
It was a number of years ago, and involved falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. I received a promotion/raise at work, and almost immediately went out and bought a $40,000 vehicle. Fortunately, I sold it a few years later which mitigated the damage somewhat, but it really set us back for a while. I had an incredible emotional attachment to that vehicle, and letting it go was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do, but did I ever grow from that experience. It taught me not to place so much value on material possessions.
What is the one thing that you don’t mind splurging on or can’t help splurging on?
My wife and I fulfill our cravings for sushi here and there. I don’t really drink much alcohol, but enjoy a the occasional Stella or Alexander Keith’s. I’m also a big fan of Michael Connelly novels, and I have this tradition of buying one at the airport whenever I’m flying somewhere.
I named three, how’s that for a splurge!?! 🙂
There you have it, the ‘bonus’ material from my Debt.com feature this week!