Blogging away debt: How going public with finances is saving people

Published: Monday, April 30 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT


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Related: Top 10 blogs focused on overcoming debt

When Adam Baker, a real estate agent from Indianapolis, and his wife Courtney, a schoolteacher, had their first baby, they decided their lives had to change.

The $78,000 in consumer and student debt had to go.

After making plans to eliminate the debt, Baker found an unorthodox way of finding support on his road to recovery. The new father began disclosing his finances online through blogging.

"There's a lot of shame around money, right?" said Baker in a telephone interview with the Deseret News. "It's a little bit taboo to talk about. You kind of sweep it under the rug in our society. To be able to break that taboo and put it all out there was really freeing and allowed us to process what worked and what didn't a little better."

The accountability, education and support that came from publicly sharing details about their debt recovery helped the new parents pay off about $30,000 in consumer and student debt in two-and-a-half years. Others who have turned to blogging about debt have erased about $35,000 by using the internet to share experiences, hold themselves accountable and learn from others.

Since starting ManVsDebt.com, Baker and his wife have managed to pay off $18,000 in consumer debt and $15,000 in student loans. The couple still has about $39,000 left in student loans. All this information, including monthly expense reports, are shared on the Baker's website.

U.S. revolving debt, which includes credit cards, was $798.64 billion in February, down 18 percent from its high in September 2008, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.

"Credit card borrowing has slowed down a bit," Aneta Markowska, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, told Bloomberg earlier this month. "Clearly there was a run up in the past few months related to the holidays, and we've seen a pretty meaningful slowdown. The process of repairing consumers' balance sheets still has farther to go."

The amount of credit card debt in the U.S. may be what is causing people to flock to websites like Baker's to find support and advice.

ManVsDebt.com has received more than 250,000 unique visitors in the past year, according to Compete.com

The blog is relatable, and that's what has brought in viewers, Baker said.

"People really could connect with me quickly because I was transparent," Baker said.

Being open about debt online helps people acknowledge that they might have a problem and provides a channel for advice from people who have overcome similar situations, said Arul Mishra, an associate professor of marketing for the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in an email to the Deseret News.

Baker, whose wife recently had their second baby, Charlotte, began by simply blogging about their battle with debt, but he has now become a voice for financial freedom.

"Now that I've learned and grown enough from my community, I can actually help people through the process," said Baker, who now relies on blogging as a primary source of income while his wife is a stay-at-home mom.

Others have been in a situation similar to the Bakers and have used blogging to overcome their financial struggles.

With $35,000 in consumer debt, J.D. Roth, owner of the financial blog Get Rich Slowly, had hit his limit and committed to getting himself out of debt.

Roth read up on methods of how to eliminate debt and began sharing them online through a personal blog.

The blogger started a 5-year plan to eliminate his liabilities, but the added motivation and accountability from blogging pushed him to pay it off in only 39 months.

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