Money Q&A – Best of the Best Blogger Series

In the 45th edition of our Best of the Best Blogger series, I was geeked about the opportunity to sit down with Hank Coleman from Money Q&A.

Hank Coleman is probably one of the most qualified personal finance bloggers in the category. With a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Finance, and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential forthcoming, Hank is very well-decorated in personal finance from an academic standpoint. Considering that many of the most recognizable and well-respected personal finance bloggers in the category have absolutely no financial background to speak of, Hank’s financial education really makes him stand out in a crowd. Because of that fact coupled with his consistent, forthright, well-grounded and totally sound financial advice, Hank is someone whom I consider to be a trusted, reliable authority in the personal finance category.

Hank is an entrepreneur and quite a prolific freelance writer as well, having been featured on heavyweight media sites such as the Fool.com, the Chicago Tribune and Fox Business News among others.  Balancing out Hank’s personal finance blogging exploits is his day job as a professional in the “government sector”. His true passion, however, is teaching people how to help manage their money and finances.

A few of my very favorite posts from Hank include a great 100 things-to-do before you die “bucket list” post, how to talk to your kids when you’re struggling financially and my personal favorite top ten personal finance books you’ve got to own, which I consider to be one of the best personal finance book recommendation lists around.

We sat down with Hank recently to talk about writing quality content, financial blind spots, and running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

You own and operate a number of personal finance sites including Own the Dollar, Military Money Might and Money Q&A.  How do you manage to give each site the time, commitment and level of quality content that it really requires?

Money Q&A

It is kind of funny that you would ask this question. I actually sold Own The Dollar and Military Money Might a while ago, and that is one reason why you do not see any new posts on those sites. Then, in September of 2010, I kind of had seller’s remorse and missed having my own little corner of the blogosphere. So, I created Money Q&A.

It is nice now only having to focus on writing for one site that I own. It is definitely a challenge keeping up with two or more blogs. I was writing Own The Dollar and Military Money Might all by myself for two years with no staff writers, and I was struggling. I was being pulled in too many directions, and both sites suffered because I wasn’t focused enough on each one. That’s one advantage that Money Q&A has. It gets all my focus and attention. It seems like so many new personal finance bloggers want to build an empire of small blogs.

There is a lot of buying of smaller sites going on, but I don’t know how they do it. It seems like they are spreading themselves too thin and having to rely on staff writers to keep up with posts, and it is the readers who suffer in my opinion with thin, uninspiring content as a result.

You’re the proud owner of a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Finance and you’re working on your Certified Financial Planner credentials.  Talk about the advantage your qualifications give you compared to so many of the personal finance bloggers in the space who seem to be so grossly under-qualified.

My education is definitely something that I’m proud of and want to promote to my readers. I think that you are 100% right when you say that most personal finance bloggers are under-qualified to write about detailed financial topics like investing, retirement planning, insurance, and others. It is one of the main reasons that I started blogging in the first place.

There is so much misinformation that is thrown around out there that is simply just crap and bad advice. I wanted to write from a base of knowledge backed by college degrees that readers could trust. I want to write, teach, and share with people how to take back control of their finances, how to start investing early in life, how to manage their money so we all can have a better life than our parents had and give a better life to our children than we had. I wanted to stand out from the novice crowd of personal finance writers which is why I went back to school recently even after already having a Master’s in finance to earn 18 more semester hours and a certificate of personal financial planning. And, now I am eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam.

I want to open my own financial planning firm one day soon and offer inexpensive financial plans to the masses. I want to earn the CFP credentials to give myself and my readers the credibility and sound knowledge that they deserve.

Tell me about how you compiled your Top 100 “bucket list”.   Why do so many of us guys have such a primal desire to run with the bulls in Pamplona?  (Because that one’s on my bucket list too!)

It is kind of random that I stumbled across this website, hundredgoals.com about two years ago. I normally don’t read much on the internet other than personal finance blogs, finance articles, and anything Gary Vaynerchuk does. But, this guy Steven’s story really struck a chord with me. His whole blog of course is about his 100 goal to accomplish before he dies. Now, he has way more than 100.

I’ve always had a small list in my head of things I want to do before I die, and so after reading Steven’s site, I started to write down my own 100 goals. My list kept expanding, but I still don’t think that I’m quite up to 100 yet. But, they are great goals to strive for, and it still remains one of the most popular pages on Money Q&A.

One thing I love about bucket lists is that it helps you to spend your money doing things instead of acquiring things. That is still to this day one of the best pieces of financial advice that I have ever received. We spend our entire lives collecting and acquiring things, but in the end, it is the memories of doing things that we will carry with us forever.

What seems to be the most common financial “blind spot” from your experience, talking and working with others in personal finance?

I tend to see two “blind spots” that upset me the most. A lot of people that I run into or talk with seem to be caught up in the living paycheck to paycheck trap. They think that they do not have enough money at the end of the month to start building their emergency fund or to start investing for their retirement. Their priorities are out of whack usually though with large car payments, taking vacations every year, and tons of other things they think are necessities in life. But, they also have no savings and little if anything saved for retirement.

And, then I see them using the excuse that there is nothing left in the budget to invest with. The other blind spot that I see all the time are young people just out of college or a couple years into the workforce who are waiting to start investing. They never have a good excuse as to why they are waiting. Maybe they see investing for retirement as a middle age “thing” to do. They do not understand how much potential money they are losing by not having their investments work for them. They don’t understand the power of compounding interest, and how time is their best tool that they have on their side when they are young investors.

You’ve written for a number of high profile personal finance sites and blogs including the Motley Fool, Fox Business News, and the Chicago Sun Times among others.  What advice would you give to all those new, aspiring personal finance bloggers out there about how to get that kind of national exposure?

I wish that I could say that it was all calculated moves on my part to write for those sites, but in the end a lot of it had to do with being at the right place at the right time. I’ve made way more money as a freelance writer than I ever did running my own blog which is one of the main reasons that I sold my first two blogs. There aren’t too many writing jobs that I turned down. One assignment would lead to another, and my name got out there with more and more bylines on different sites.

Several of the larger sites I write for as a freelancer got picked up by these national publications, and others had me write for them because they saw my writing on another blog. The best advice I can give to any new blogger is to keep writing for as many different website publishers as possible both large and small. The wider your reach is one thing that helps you to be seen by larger companies.

What’s been the biggest upside surprise about your blogging experience?

I think that the biggest and most wonderful surprise for me has been how tight the blogging community is, especially the personal finance bloggers. For the most part, surprisingly I don’t think that we see each other as competitors. It is more like we are teammates. If it were not for several blogger friends, I don’t think that I would have made it through my first year of blogging let alone finishing my fourth year as a personal finance blogger.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to Hank for his candor and his patience throughout the interview process. I had a few personal challenges that delayed the publishing date on Hank’s interview but I was finally able to get it pushed live after a long delay.

A sincere thanks, once again, for your participation Hank.

3 comments

  1. One of the soundest bits of advice I've received is that every time you get your pay check, before you pay for anything you should pay yourself first. Set aside at least 10% of your salary every pay period, put it in the bank and then forget about it. If you do that religiously, after a while you'll realize that you now have quite a bit of money. That is your savings. Avoid dipping into it and just let it grow.

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