11 Influential Personal Finance Writers that Motivated Me to Pay Off $28,000 in Debt

This week I will be writing about all of the people that have influenced me to make huge changes in my life over the last three years. These posts will be long because there have been many people that have made a positive impact on my life. Today's post describes the most influential personal finance writers that led me to my financial turnaround.

When I graduated college in 2008 and got my first full-time job I knew very little about personal finance. What I did know is that I had a lot debt from buying my used car and loans from college that I wanted to pay off as soon as possible. I also wanted to avoid living paycheck to paycheck and start saving wisely for retirement. I didn’t know the first thing about how to do any of these things though, so I did what I do whenever I want to learn about something: I read.

I went to the library and checked out tons of books on personal finance. I searched the web for bloggers that wrote daily about managing money. It became my new hobby. I knew that the time was right for me to build a strong financial foundation for my future and I wanted to learn as much as I could.

This search for knowledge led me to read countless blogs and books on the topic. Some fit with my beliefs and some did not. What I want to do is share with you the people that most influenced my financial turnaround and recommend that you check out what they are doing. There are many more resources out there that I have read and come across, but these are the ones that made a difference to my wallet.


The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm

This blog is the first personal finance blog that I came across and I read his Financial Armageddon series. I immediately knew that I wanted to learn more about personal finance so I would never end up in the situation he described. The amazing part of his story is how he has turned his financial life around, writes full-time for The Simple Dollar, and even published a book that I wrote some thoughts on.

Trent writes about everything from eating the cheapest, healthiest meals possible to philosophical discussions on allowances for children. While every article might not be for you, if you dig through his archives you’ll be sure to find something to help you with where you are at currently.

Favorite Posts: Financial Armageddon Series

Get Rich Slowly by J.D. Roth

J.D. started around the same time as Trent and has a thriving following which has developed into one of the most prolific personal finance websites there is. What’s especially unique about GRS is how many personal stories have been posted on the site.

There are a lot of guest posts published to the site and every one of them tells a story about someone else that either has or is struggling financially. These kinds of stories helped give me the motivation to create a budget, stick to it and pay off my debt. The archives of Get Rich Slowly are filled with great resources for anyone on their road to financial independence.

Favorite Post: Actions Not Words: The Difference Between Talkers and Doers

Man vs. Debt by Adam Baker

What really has me following Adam’s journey is the honesty he writes with. He was never afraid to share the amount of debt he had accumulated and has written about his journey ever since. The stories of his travels abroad and minimizing of his family’s possessions have made me a big fan of his.

Adam even writes the exact details of his family’s financial situation in the Radical Financial Transparency section of Man vs. Debt. His two products, Un-automate Your Finances and Sell Your Crap, are great guides for getting a handle on your finances and paying down debt.

Favorite Post: Pictures of Every Single Item We Own

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

While most personal finance bloggers write about being frugal and saving money, Ramit focuses more on increasing your earning potential. He wants readers “to focus on big wins — not to be nagged at for drinking lattes, but to spend money extravagantly on the things they love, while cutting costs mercilessly on the things they don’t.”

When I start to be too frugal in my life I gravitate back towards Ramit’s money philosophy and re-read his book: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Any young professional looking to increase their income should start to read through Ramit’s archives.

Favorite Post: Earning More Money

Gen Y Wealth by R.J. Weiss

I like to read R.J.’s blog because he writes specifically to people in my age group. He has been a great resource for me over the past three years and I have used his free ten step email program for creating a financial plan.

As a Certified Financial Planner he is also a good resource for the technical parts of personal finance and recommends some personal finance tools that I also use.

Favorite Post: 20 Financial Milestones You Want to Reach in Your 20’s

Life After College by Jenny Blake

Jenny writes about the same types of topics I write about on Pocket Changed: life, money and work. Her blog is aimed directly at post graduates and helps them adapt to their new path in life. She says that “there's no manual for the real world” and she writes to fill that need.

Her writing is very conversational and has influenced me to make positive financial changes in my life such as stopping the little white lies I tell myself when I spend money. She also just had a book released called Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want that I am looking forward to reading.

Favorite Post: New Here? (Round-up of all her best posts)

Bargaineering by Jim Wang

I first came across Jim through the Personal Finance Hour Podcast that he and J.D. Roth used to run. His style of talking about personal finance was more blunt and direct than I had experienced before, but I like his approach. Jim stands out from the blogging crowd with his own unique voice.

My favorite thing that he does is write devil’s advocate articles like my favorite post below. I think that most personal finance topics do not have an absolute right or wrong answer and Jim is able to facilitate these kinds of discussions. This is what makes me keep coming back to Bargaineering.

Favorite Post: Rent Forever, Don’t Buy a Home


Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

This is my all time favorite personal finance book. The philosophy that is laid out in this book is that when you spend money that doesn’t align with your life goals you are hurting your future self. While looking at every dollar you spend this way might be a bit extreme, to a certain extent it is true.

If someone is brand new to personal finance I recommend this book first. You can read my book thoughts on it here.

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

For an all encompassing resource to change your financial situation for the better, this book by Dave Ramsey is hard to not mention. For debt repayment plans and motivation, this book is a fantastic guide. The book lays out the system for the Debt Snowball and has been a New York Times bestseller.

For a family or person that is deep in debt I would recommend that they pick up The Total Money Makeover and the corresponding workbook.

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

I borrowed this book from a friend and got so engrossed in it that I read it in just two sittings. Suze goes in depth into a lot of the aspects of personal finance that young adults and college graduates should be learning about. Everything from buying a house and investing for retirement to credit card debt and career advice are covered in this book.

This is a great resource for graduating high school or college seniors and is written with a down to earth tone. Any twenty-somethings starting off life on their own should pick up a copy of this book.

Boglehead’s Guide to Investing by Jack C. Bogle

Considered by many to be the definitive guide to investing, this book explains everything very well. Despite the complexity, this is a book well worth reading for anyone that wants to learn more about investing. I wouldn’t suggest that it to be the first book that a beginner picks up to read as it can be quite intricate.

Following the principles in this book can make you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars richer over the course of your life with all of the information it provides. Boglehead’s Guide to Retirement Planning is a book specifically tied to retirement planning and is helpful in supplementing the above investing guide.

Like I said before, there are countless writers and resources that can help people with learning about personal finance, but these are the exact ones that most impacted my financial education and journey towards financial independence. I hope you find that at least one of these resources is helpful for you wherever you are in your financial journey.

What personal finance resources have you used or writers do you keep going back to? I’d love to hear more resources in the comments as I’m looking for great ones to read and recommend!

MoneyCaleb Wojcik