Blog Topic Definitions
There are many different ways that personal finance posts and blogs could be split and grouped among various topic names. No one system is going to be ideal to every situation, post, and blog encountered. Obviously, the simple topic names used in the Topics and Themes Summary Table and the Recent Topics Focus Percentages Table cover a lot of ground and include many subtopics.
For better or worse, each topic was defined as follows:
- Saving/Budgeting – This topic includes posts about saving money, budgets and budgeting methods, net worth discussions and methods, emergency funds (a type of saving), and saving for particular things (like college or a house). Also included are issues of taxes, insurance (health and otherwise), and housing/renting, because all these things are major budget items that greatly impact your saving rate. Discussions of housing and renting as primary living quarters were put under this topic. Discussion of housing that does not serve as primary living quarters was put under the “investing” topic. Personal net worth, budgeting, and saving reports are all included under saving/budgeting.
- Investing – Includes posts about investing in stocks, bonds, real estate (when not the primary living quarters), commodities, peer-to-peer investing and just about anything else that is presented as an tangible “investment”. Investing in short term, long term, taxable, tax exempt, tax deferred and retirement accounts was all filed under investing. This topic also includes things like “Portfolio Reports” or personal “investment reports” as well as investment recommendations (e.g., stock picks).
- Life – Also known as “lifestyle”, this includes posts on general observations about life, life goals, leisure, pastimes, happiness, emotions, hobbies, games, and life’s trials (disaster, disease, etc.) that are not presented as a personal finance issue. This also includes travelogues and vacation reports that don’t center on paying for, budgeting for, or the costs of the vacation. Other non-finance topics included here are recommendations to other non-finance blogs or media, political discussions, obvious non-finance advertisements or endorsements, fraud and crime discussions, and charity activities. Observations about blogging that are not centered on making money are also filed under this topic.
- Frugality – This includes minimalism, decluttering, lifestyle inflation, couponing, and lifestyle expense observations. Also filed here are discussions of spending on specific items and buying specific items inexpensively such as “Should I have bought that new car?”, “PBJ vs. eating lunch out”, or “How to save more on groceries”. More general spending discussions, like “Why am I spending so much?” were placed under the saving/budgeting topic. Personal expense or spending reports (like, “What I spent money on this month”) go under the frugality topic as well.
- Earning – This topic includes basically anything that is intended to make money or provide income. Earning includes discussions of jobs (having or obtaining), careers and career paths, starting or running businesses, side hustles (too many to name here), selling stuff, and the entrepreneurial spirit or approach. Discussions of blogging as a business or income source are filed here, as are personal income reports, dividend income reports, etc., but only where such reports focus exclusively on income. This differs from personal net worth, budgeting, saving, or investment reports that may include a spending component, which are all filed under the above respective topics.
- Debt/Credit – This includes discussions of debt, paying of debt, getting loans, various types of loans, loan consolidation, student loans, car loans, and pretty much any kind of debt or loan except for primary residence mortgages, which were filed under saving/budgeting. This is because people debate whether your primary residence is an investment, where debt is considered leveraged investing, or just plain old debt. (The use of leverage for investing is filed under the “investing” topic above.) The debt/credit topic also includes posts about credit cards, paying off credit cards, credit card hacking, and using credit cards to fund items (like vacations). This topic also includes personal debt reduction progress reports or credit card mileage/bonus accumulation reports.
- Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) – This includes posts discussing financial independence and early retirement as a concept, plans for FIRE, personal progress toward FIRE, or FIRE as actually practiced by those lucky dogs who have made it to FI. It also includes any posts on traditional retirement as well as medicare, Medicaid, social security, pensions, and similar retirement programs in various countries. It’s worth noting that many blog titles and posts mention FI or RE or both, but when you actually read the article it’s more about how to save/budget, frugality, or investing for retirement, which were all filed under the above respective topics. As noted above, investing in retirement accounts was filed under “investing”. However, posts that focused on retirement withdrawal rates and efficient use of retirement accounts (e.g., Roth IRA vs. 401K) once in retirement were filed here under FIRE.
In addition, when in doubt, I used “saving/budgeting” as somewhat of a catchall category for more generic or philosophical discussions about “finance”, “money”, “wealth”, and general references to the accumulation of money over time by people or organizations.