Get ready for PF Blogger Showdown #4: Flexo vs. Jim Wang! It’s the first time we’re pairing up an anonymous blogger with a real life human – how exciting :) What’s also cool about this match up is that both sides are fairly even when it comes to blog status, but their their personalities are pretty different (as you’ll soon see). I haven’t met Flexo in person as yet, but if all goes well I’ll see Jim this Sunday – so if there’s anything else you’ve been dying to know about him, leave it in the comments and we’ll see what I can get outta him.
|How long have you been blogging for?
|I’ve been blogging – well, writing for the web on a page in reverse chronological order – since 1995. It wasn’t called “blogging” for a few years later, with the creation of Blogger and other tools for making the writing a process a whole lot easier than editing html files directly. I didn’t start writing Consumerism Commentary until 2003.
|Nearly 5 years, since Feb 2005.
|Has the PF niche changed much over the years?
|The niche has changed in quite a few ways. It keeps getting bigger, for one. When I started writing Consumerism Commentary, personal finance was not a popular topic for blogs. But lots of people want to talk about money, so it was only a matter of time before more people joined the community. In this time, mainstream media has become more involved with the blogosphere as well, changing the nature of the niche. The growth in popularity in the topic also created an inviting environment for many excellent writers.
|It’s gotten a lot bigger with a lot more voices, I like it because it’s about hearing other people’s perspectives and approaches to the same problems you’re dealing with.
|Do you ever get any love letters and/or stalkers?
|I get about ten emails a week from different female readers who offer to bear my children. Some attach photographs to the email as well. Most go into the trash folder, but some I keep for my private scrapbook. Nah, just kidding. I get appreciative emails from readers once in a while, and that makes me happy. I haven’t had any stalkers since college, and I do kind of miss that.
|Tell us the first 3 sites/blogs you check in the morning.
|Aside from my day job company’s intranet website, I check CNN Money, Twitter, and Google Reader. Most of the web is blocked from my office, so there’s not much I can do in the morning.
|What’s better: Paying off all your debt or saving like a mad man?
|Well I hope it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A mixed approach is good until you have a cushion of savings – then pay off debt like a mad man. I favor the Debt Avalanche, but I understand most people will want to find something that works for them – a good philosophy when it’s accompanied by knowledge and understanding of the options.
|I’ve never had debt outside a mortgage or student loans, but if I did have credit card debt I’d say paying that off should always be priority number one. Then you save. Then you invest.
|Have you ever regretted giving somebody advice?
|No. But I’m not big on giving advice. I’d prefer to give people options and let them choose. I don’t tell people what to do, I only provide information. Outside of the blog, I never offer opinions on financial matters unless someone asks me specifically. So I don’t have anything to regret.
|I shy away from giving advice, I only explain to people what I would do in their place. So far, I haven’t regretted it.
|Do you believe in the mighty Budget?
|The budget has its advantages when it’s used properly, but it can be a detriment or a pointless exercise for some people. I used a budget for a short time when I had very little income and I was having a hard time bringing my net worth to a positive number. Now my budget is not much more than an evaluation of my recent spending and an effort to keep those numbers reasonable. I believe in the budget, but I believe the best approach to budgeting depends on the individual and the situation.
|I think it’s important to budget when you don’t have a clear picture of how much you’re spending. Once you do, budgeting becomes a little less important because you’re running on autopilot.
|Would you rather…have double the readers, or an extra $100k?
|With another $100k, I might be able to buy double the readers, but with double the readers, I might be able to earn another $100k. I didn’t start Consumerism Commentary to earn money – in 2003 that would have been unlikely. I didn’t start the blog thinking I’d have too many readers, either.
|Double the readers, money will come on its own.
|What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever splurged on?
|I don’t do much splurging. I did spend $1,100 on an HDTV a few years ago. That’s more than I ever expected to spend on a television set. I’ve spent larger amounts for other things but choosing more options trending toward frugal, like a Honda Civic, can hardly be called splurging.
|My wife and I went on a month-long European vacation this summer, probably the biggest thing price-wise if you don’t count the cost of our wedding. Both were pricey but you make those trade offs in life, I pinch pennies in other things so I can spend it on the things I value.
|What’s something no one knows about you?
|People in real life may know this — if they remember. But the blogosphere is definitely not aware. For my senior recital in college, I performed Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata Op. 120, No. 2 in E flat, Capricco for solo clarinet in A by Heinrich Sutermeister, Sonata for Two Clarinets by Francis Poulenc, and Introduction and Dance by Henri Tomasi.
|Something most people don’t know is that back in high school and a little bit of college I used to be a fencer. Fencing, I did foil, started off as a club sport in my high school and now it’s one of the best in the state, if not the nation. My coach eventually opened up a fencing center in the area, Mission Fencing.
|*BONUS* Who’s sexier: Britney Spears or Warren Buffett?
|In order of most to least sexy: Britney Spears 2000, Britney Spears 2007, Warren Buffett in his sexy pose, Britney Spears 2009, Warren Buffett in normal pose, Britney Spears 2005.
|Britney Spears is sexier but if I had a choice to meet one, it would be the Oracle.
|Time to cast your vote! Base it on whatever you’d like: the better answers, the most inspiring, the one you follow, whatev. They’re both rock stars in our niche and I thank them heartily for stopping by. We can learn a lot from some of these veterans ;)————
Showdown #1: J.D. Roth vs. Trent Hamm
Showdown #2: Stephanie vs. Squawkfox
Showdown #3: Lazy Man vs. Silicon Valley Blogger