Blogger Showdown #2: Stephanie vs. Squawkfox

Poorer Than You vs. Squawkfox
Welcome to PF Blogger Showdown #2! The last one with Trent and J.D. was wildly successful and I’m excited to continue on with our fun little series here :)

Up today are two of the most influential female pf bloggers around – Stephanie from Poorer Than You, and Kerry K. Taylor aka Squawkfox. I’m sure most of you have heard of them before, but if not I highly encourage you to stop by their blogs afterward and check ’em out! They’re very different, very fun, and very refreshing. Now time for some action!

1,357 Readers
Poorer Than You
SquawkfoxKerry K. Taylor
How long have you been blogging for?
I started my first online diary at age 14 (2001). It was the angsty train wreck that you would expect from a 14-year-old girl! Eventually I wised up and started viewing my blogs as more public opinion pieces. I started Poorer Than You in January of 2007, when I dropped out of school because of money problems. I started Squawkfox on January 2, 2008 to have some fun with writing, photography, and web development. I’ve been a professional writer for eons – mostly technical writing for software developers – so the blog became more of a creative outlet where I was drawn to squawking about moolah. I’ve found that many topics, from organic farming to Ironman triathlons, have a financial angle.
Has anyone in your “real” life caught onto your online life?
There has never been a separation between the two, for me. My parents met on an early version of the internet! I had my first online account at age 6. My family and friends have always known about most of my online projects, including Poorer Than You. I blogged under the alias “Squawkfox” until May 5th, 2009 and decided to reveal my identity when my book, 397 Ways to Save Money was published. Since somebody’s name had to go on the cover I knew my alias days were numbered. If anyone caught on before that time they were too polite to say anything.
Are there any advantages to being a female blogger in the PF world?
For a while, I thought there were actually disadvantages! It seemed to me that most of the biggest PF bloggers were males, and that it might be because people are looking for an “authoritative male voice” when it comes to money topics. But I think all voices need to be represented, especially in personal finance blogs. I come at it from the “young, female, geek” perspective. Some people respond to that, some don’t! I don’t think so. Well, unless you’re blogging about the Diva Cup or “How to Buy a Bra” – then I think the ladies might have a slight advantage.
On a scale from 1-10, how “girly” are you?
Like a 5. I went to a college that was 70% male, and I was geek before that! I play a lot of video games, spend most of my time on the internet, and I spew a lot of “lolspeak” and “l33tspeak.” And I don’t wear high heels very often because I’m taller than my boyfriend! But I like dressing up and kitties and babies. And I minored in gender studies. I’m very much in the middle. I’m not very girly, but I am feminine – if that makes any sense. I like dresses but I can’t walk in heels. I grew up watching science fiction, racing road bikes, and programming computers. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve completed two Ironman triathlons and still watch Star Trek, Doctor Who, and more recently Torchwood. I also live on an organic farm and drive tractors, fix barbed wire fences, and feed animals. So basically, I’m an athletic computer and Sci-Fi nerd who isn’t afraid of farming in a dress. :D
What are the first 3 blogs/sites you check in the morning?
My email (Gmail), Craigslist (job searching!) and Google Reader to start digging into my blog feeds. I have to pick just three? Since most of my sites are quick reads, I have time for my favorite five while sipping my morning coffee: The Globe and Mail, Ask MetaFilter, Seth Godin’s Blog, Daring Fireball, and Dooce.
Are you a fan of the budget? (If so, what format?)
I track and project my spending using an extremely simple spreadsheet that I made almost three years ago. I don’t track categories or anything, really. I have “minimum payments” for my savings goals (which are many!) and then whatever is left is for day-to-day expenses and fun stuff. I do believe that Budgets Are Sexy! Getting on track with a budget and monitoring expenses is what helped me get out of debt and save a six-figure portfolio. The trick is to be flexible and not beat yourself up when unexpected expenses tip the balance sheet.
What is a financial product you can’t live without?
I love ING Direct like it was a family member! Or maybe the family dog. A golden retriever that holds my money for me. My brain. Seriously. I’ve used several money-tracking products but none will work unless you use your brain to realize the financial bottom line. A good head on your shoulders is worth more than any financial product.
What’s one of the dumbest financial mistakes you’ve ever made?
Getting into $42,000 of student loan debt for a major that, ultimately, was not meant for me. And now I’m making payments on that! Which is… fun. The only dumb mistake is the one repeatedly made. Everything else is a learning experience. :D I’d have to say taking on so much student debt after my second degree was a painful learning experience. Finishing school with a $17,000 student loan to pay back felt terrible and was a source of stress when I interviewed for jobs. If I had a time machine and could have a “do-over” I’d probably work another year to save up for school before taking out so many student loans.
If you were given 2 extra hours each day, what would you do with them?
I’m supposed to say something like “write a book” or “work on a side project,” right? But I would read more – actual books, not internet stuff! I get in a book once in a while, but not nearly as many as I would like. I’d walk my dog (a blue heeler with endless energy), ride my titanium road bike, read a book, or spend some time in the city. Living on a farm in the middle of a forest can be isolating, so it’s nice to spend time around people.
How about $10,000? What would you do with that?
Two years ago I answered this question and I said I would mostly put it toward school expenses. Now, I would take half and fully fund a Roth IRA for 2009. The other half I would use to fully fund a couple of my savings goals. Then I would continue on with my daily life as usual, moving on to the next savings goals! If you gave me $10,000 I’d do the sensible thing first and pay off debt. But since I’m debt-free, I would take a trip to Europe to visit my husband’s family. I might even take him along too. ;) I would also try to time the trip so I could see a few stages of the Tour de France. The rest of the money I’d invest in low cost Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) and let it grow.
*BONUS* Chocolate or wine – if you had to choose? (is that sexist?)
I’m actually not a huge fan of wine. Girly drinks with umbrellas in them? Yes. Wine? Not so much. But chocolate… mmm… I actually have a caffeine sensitivity, which means I have to be very careful about my caffeine intake (including chocolate). I’ve already cut many things out of my diet (coffee, caffeinated sodas, etc.) to ensure that I can still have chocolate. So yes, I would still cut things out to keep having chocolate! (And no, it’s not sexist. It’s sex-related. Totally different! ;)) If you’re going to be truly sexy then you need a glorious glass of red wine with a lump of luscious dark chocolate. Choosing between the two is hard. But since I live in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where vineyards are plentiful, I’ll choose an organic bottle of red and hope that Stephanie chooses the chocolate. I’d invite her over to share my vino and raise a glass to all those who blog about bucks.
What do you think? Who wins Showdown #2? Submit your vote now and let us know. Base it on whatever you’d like: the better answers, the better blog, the most inspiring, the funnier, whatever. Either way, they’re both awesome and I really REALLY appreciate them putting up with my antics taking the time to answer these for us :)
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