encourage definitionI want to preface this with a warning that this might turn into a rant.  I just have to get this off my chest and I think it could end up sparking some change.  Let’s hope!

Those of us that are currently in debt or have been in debt before know one thing about the situation.  It sucks!  There is no other way to explain it.  Debt sucks and having it just brings you down.  I can tell you that once I paid off my last credit card, I felt a lot better about myself and my situation.  When you have a better outlook on your financial life, then you can end up making good changes.  So, let’s spread around something that can spark change.

Offer Encouragement

One of the main reasons why I started Debt Roundup was to offer encouragement to those in debt.  I was in your shoes.  I walked whee you walk and I know how it feels.  I understand the daily struggles and the emotional roller coaster that debt puts you through.  I got myself into over $50,000 worth of credit card debt due to emotional spending, business expenses, and the lack of education toward the forms of debt.  I have worked very hard to turn my life around and now I am happy to say that I have a positive net worth and it continues to rise every month.

With the information I learned, I wanted to pass it along to others.  There are millions in debt and if I can help just one person, than I feel that I have done my job.  I want to encourage all of those that are in debt to change their lives around.  I try to provide useful information about everything regarding money.  I might not agree with some of the reasons why people get into debt, but that doesn’t mean I will belittle you or treat you differently.  I will encourage you and help you to the best of my ability.  This is what Debt Roundup is all about.

Are You Helping Or Hurting?

I have been in the personal finance blogging space for nearly a year.  It has been quite eye opening and it has changed my life.  There are so many opinions out there about what we should do with money and how it should be used.  With so many opinions, it can be really eye opening.

One issue that I have been seeing lately is the lack of compassion that some have for others.  There are some select people that I will not name that only like to belittle those that don’t think like them.  They use foul language and make people seem stupid if they don’t do what they tell you.  They offer no encouragement to those that are in debt and only show you how stupid you were for getting into debt.  I used to ignore it, but now I want to speak out.

If you can’t offer people that are in a financial issue some encouraging words or helpful advice, then shut up.  Yes, I said, shut up!  Each person has their own opinion and that is what I like about blogging.  The issue is that you might have an opinion that is not helping anyone.  If you want to belittle people, then do it somewhere else.  I am all for free speech, but when it borderlines bullying, than I have a problem with it.  Everyone deserves to be respected and if you can’t do it, then don’t say anything.  Didn’t your mother teach you that?

So, to those that can’t seem to offer kind words and helpful advice to those in need, then go do something else.  As a personal finance blogger, I feel that I have a site that can help people.  There are many finance sites that helped me when I was in debt and I want to do the same.  Stop being hurtful and become helpful.  There is no better feeling than offering tips that might help someone change their financial life.  Why would you not strive for that?

Spread Encouragement

For all you personal finance bloggers and all of my other readers, I ask you to offer those in need some encouragement.  Offer it and then spread it around.  One simple word of encouragement can change someone’s day and maybe change someone’s life.  It is easier to be helpful and much harder to be hurtful.  You never know what can happen with one random act of kindness.

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  1. I’ve seen the things written in the comment sections of posts like this (see the Modest Money “Jerk Bloggers” thread for reference if you’ve forgotten), and the speed with which the entire section degenerates into personal attacks against Greg at Control Your Cash, his writing, his entire blog, his personality, his physical appearance, etc. is mind-blowing, considering that behaviour is the source of your outrage in the first place.

    1. Hey Sandi,

      Thanks for stopping by. I know of the post on Modest Money. Do you condone the way that Greg attacks people on his site? Is there any reason to call people retards, whores, and other names such as that to prove a point? I see no reason for it. Greg is not the only one that my post is referring to. I have read some of Greg’s work and I think his personal finance advice is good, but when you take your time to rip people down the way he and others do, your advice becomes mute.

      That being said, I love having people disagree with me. I think it spurs great debate. I think that you handle yourself with dignity and you can have a spirited debate without getting personal (if that is even possible online). You provide your points and then allow a rebuttal. That is how the internet should work. I enjoy hearing your view points Sandi.

      I do not condone the actions of the few that I speak of. I will not tolerate people tearing others down to get laughs or to make a point. It is counter-productive to say the least. Do you think a person would listen to my advice if I called them a “bitch” first? I know that I wouldn’t give that person the time of day.

    2. First off all, thank you for this wonderful post Grayson! Bullying and the Internet is a serious problem that shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Sandi, I appreciate how much you stick up for dear old douchebag because we know he would do the same for you right??? As for Modest Money’s post – I’m his girlfriend. He was way nicer in that post than necessary!

      1. GMD, I appreciate you enjoying the article, but adding in the insult negates my point. We don’t want to be the same as the ones that call people names, we should want to inspire change. There is no point in bullying other people to get a point across. We can have differing opinions, but challenge each other in a respectful way. I know that you are angry for the remarks that were made toward you, but going to the level of name calling is counter-productive in my opinion.

      2. “Bullying and the Internet is a serious problem that shouldn’t be taken lightly at all.”

        …leads to…

        “dear old douchebag”

        Being in debt sucks. I would wager that 20% (am I high? maybe. am I low? perhaps) of the readers on the Internet in the U.S. and Canada managed to avoid getting their shoes muddy in that pile of crud. The rest of us have a lot of empathy. That’s why PF bloggers get so much traffic; it’s a situation with which 4/5 of us can personally relate.

        We shouldn’t, though, condone the behaviors that led to the debt and that prevent people from getting out of debt.

        Having a support group is great (“hey! I’m not alone! There are people who have gone from being neck deep in debt to being pretty darn successful!”)…


        It’s not a crutch, either. It’s very easy to slide down the slippery slope of using a group of peers to giving yourself an excuse to not get out.

        It’s called in-group bias, and it can be a very powerful psychological mechanism that, while giving you self-confidence, can also give you a false sense of security and prevent you from taking the action that you know you need to.

        tl;dr: Debt sucks. Let stories of others inspire you, not give you excuses. If you don’t like the show, change the channel or turn off the TV and go outside. You could spend your time much more constructively doing just about anything besides ranting.

        1. Hello Jason,

          I have always enjoyed your work and you make good points. I will say that I do not condone people’s continuous behavior that keep them in debt. There is a difference between providing them encouragement when they reach milestones and condoning their behavior. It is in how you say it to those individuals.

          I understand the concept of in-group bias and have seen it before. While there are some that need the harsh reality of the cold, hard truth, those people are usually few and far between. Having said that, when you do provide harsh realities to these type of people, you have to understand them personally before you do such things. There are many that take the type of belittling that some do as a personal attack and you cause them to shut down. That is counter-productive.

          Unless you personally know the people that are you trying to provide harsh truths to, then we should stick with empowering them and encouraging them. Having been in debt and gotten myself out, I understand the power of encouragement. I would have never tolerated someone calling me names because of my choices. I still will not tolerate it. I don’t find it productive in any sense.

          I know that I have the power to “change the channel” if you will, but I am on the mission to change the programming. We don’t need to offer belittling tones to people that have financial issues. We don’t know why they are in their situation, so we can’t just jump to conclusions. I spent my time on this rant for one purpose. I want to change the way we talk to each other. I want to empower us to encourage those that need it and to treat each other with respect. I think this is what is constructive with this article.

          As I said prior, I appreciate your comment Jason. You always have great points and it makes people think. I don’t find your opinions to be rude or harsh. There may be things that I disagree with, but I won’t go so far as to call you names and belittle you. I just can’t and won’t condone that. There is no place for name calling in the personal finance space.

    3. Hey Sandi, Grayson, & GMD
      Thanks for the post, buddy. Well said. Here are my points:
      Greg @ Control Your Cash is whip-smart, keenly observant, and a talented writer. He’s not afraid to take the contrary position and challenges us to think about things from all angles. As a debt blogger, I’m pretty much everything he despises but whatever – I still value his perspective. I think Greg’s style can get…distracting. He starts out strong and then gets mired down in strange and unrelated observations – like someone’s weight. I think people get so agitated by his side comments that it’s almost impossible for them to think straight by the end of his post. As a reader, I have to work hard to tease out the nuggets of wisdom from the background noise of some of his more…errrm…colourful commentary. At this point, the guy could have instructions for growing a real, live money tree and people aren’t going to want any part of it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is.
      GMD , you’re having a pretty natural reaction to being accused of some of the things you were accused of in our intrepid hero’s article. While it’s not positive, or encouraging, it’s natural. In fact, you’re handling it a lot more gracefully than I would in your position.
      Grayson, you’re right to want more positive and supportive energy in the PF community. Personally, the more I go along and find my voice, the more I realize I want to strike a balance between being supportive and being challenging of my own – and other people’s – ideas and attitudes towards money. My ‘Ask Darwin’ series, for example, is not particularly warm and fuzzy but it’s real.
      Sandi, I think our friend at CYC has dug his own hole. There’s nothing you or anyone else can say that will shift people’s (often rightful) opinions on our guy before they’re ready to do so. Be honest, he invites these reactions in a very conscious and planful way. Greg is smart, he knows how it works.

      1. I enjoyed your response Lindsey. I think Greg is a smart person and knows about finance, but that doesn’t give him the right to disrespect people. I love controversial posts and ones that break the preconceived notions that people tend to hold onto. That is what is fun about blogging.

        If you wrote a post that was against my opinion, I wouldn’t come to your site or write an article on my site lambasting you and treating you like you were sub par to me. That just isn’t how I roll. I think we can invite great discussion without turning nasty. That is what I am striving for.

        That is what I am trying to get out with this article. I don’t know if Greg talks to people like that to their face, but if he did, then he has balls. I know many people that wouldn’t take his crude remarks and would definitely offer criticism of their own. There are not too many people that have the gall to rip people in person, but love doing it on the internet.

        I don’t mind if these people want to disagree with what people do or what people right. That is their right to have that opinion, but when you disrespect people in such a fashion, then I take notice. You can disagree respectfully, then you can disagree with an unacceptable tone. Let’s create honest and clean debates about finance, not disrespectful monologues.

        1. So true, mon amie. My comments on Greg certainly weren’t a defense of the guy – I don’t think he needs defending. He knows enough to understand the furor he creates every time he writes something that incendiary. He discredits himself and his sometimes good advice with his three ring circus of crazy but that’s his choice. I guess it’s his brand or something. Who knows?
          I’m with you, let’s create honest and clean debates about finance. Cheers buddy.

          1. I am sure he understands it. As you said, you can be extremely smart and have great points, but when you take your time to bad mouth and belittle people, your wisdom gets overshadowed.

  2. I like this post x100, Grayson! I honestly have seen this as well in the blogosphere and I think it’s really counterproductive for people to belittle others and to think that if others don’t think like them than they are stupid. Offering encouragement is really what everyone should be doing, ESPECIALLY if they have gotten out of debt, built a successful side hustle, etc. Helping others will pay off in dividends. Great post!

  3. 99% of the time I agree with your sentiment, but there is that 1% of the population that needs to be shocked into action. So many times I have seen people with the best intentions continue to fail financially. Often it takes something big, or someone with a rock solid point of view to get people to see a better approach to debt management.

    As an example – my post today is pretty much about a relative of mine. She used to bitch and moan about having no money, but she would regularly waste it on the most trivial things. Then she would continue to complain about her situation to me. This has gone on for about 5 years and then about a year ago I finally stopped the constructive feedback and I exploded into a rant of epic proportions… It finished along the lines of – stop asking for my help with your finances if you aren’t going to listen and act on what I have to say.
    Interestingly enough, since my rant she has been doing amazingly well and is actually close to being able to have a deposit for her house. Things were a little tense for a while, but she ended up telling me that she appreciated my honesty and I had helped her see her problems in a new light.

    1. I agree that there are some people that need that “shock therapy” in order to get this stuff straight. That being said, you have to know these people personally before you give it to them in such a manner. Some people can handle certain types of shock and truth, while others can’t. I don’t think it would be productive to push people with belittling tones unless you know them personally and know how they will react. That is much harder to do on the internet.

  4. Well said Grayson! I don’t see the point either in tearing others down. It only produces division and makes people feel inadequate. Everyone has the right to say what they want but there is a difference between disagreeing on a position and attacking someone personally. It seems inconsistent to say you have a site designed to help people and then all you do is tear them down.

    1. I am with you Brian. I am all for freedom of speech. We have that right, but when you cross the line into hatred, then I have a problem with it. It accomplishes nothing.

  5. THANK YOU, Grayson, for this. I have seen some of this too lately, and it’s SO discouraging for people like us who are working our way out of a large chunk of debt. And although Glen has a point, I think it’s a very small percentage who need/respond better to the kick in the pants. I also think that the kick in the pants post can be said kindly. Being honest and blunt, if it must be done, needs to be done with care as well.

    1. You are welcome Laurie. I also think Glen has a point, but as you stated, the majority does not handle this type of “shock” well. I believe in being honest and blunt, but it is super easy to do it respectfully.

  6. I could not agree more Grayson! I think it can be very easy for some to be negative and get to the point where they might be doing something like being judgmental or nasty towards those who might have debt. What they don’t realize (or flat out don’t care about) is that does very little to help people who find themselves in debt work their way out. Having worked my way out of debt myself I know how stinking difficult (to put it lightly) it can be and it felt like the world was off my shoulders when I finally paid it off. I would be a hypocrite, if not worse, if I turned around and blasted people who’re in the same situation as I was.
    I think Glen does have a point, but I think that kick in the pants can be done respectfully and not with contempt. A respectful and courteous kick in the pants is one thing, but being a jerk about it is classless in my humble opinion.

  7. Love this post! I don’t get why some people like to make others feel horrible. Most of the time they are just making assumptions.

    1. I think you are spot on there Michelle. It is so easy to assume, but online, it is almost impossible to know the whole story.

  8. In my experience, I’ve found that most people who have to swear and be mean to make a point are usually upset about something in their lives that they have no control over, so the make a big deal out of things they can seem to control. Whenever someone starts yelling at my receptionist, you usually find out that they are going through a divorce or lost a job. There is almost some reason other than the fact that they had to wait 10 minutes for an appointment. It does no good. No one wants to help the yelling, mean person. If we could all just deal with our issues in a more positive way and take responsibility for our own actions, we might all get along a bit better.

  9. Avatar Derek | MoneyAhoy.com - Money Saving, Making Money, and Investment Ideas says:

    I’ve got a friend that’s drowning in debt, and I am constantly giving him crap about it.

    I can see now that I need to chill out and give him more positive and constructive ways to help turn things around.

    1. You might not be helping him fix his situation. Now, he could be one of the few that needs the truth, but you can do it in a way that still offers encouragement.

      1. Avatar Derek | MoneyAhoy.com - Money Saving, Making Money, and Investment Ideas says:

        Yes, good point. I really can see now that I’m probably making it worse vs. better. I’ll get another shot to bring things up with him this week and maybe I’ll do better. Thanks for the great post!!! Could be life changing here for me 🙂

  10. Hmmm Grayson did you see something on the internet that pissed you off? LoL just kidding but man you hit home. Some of the tweets i see and the comments I read Im just like really? Why would you say that. I understand you want to garner attention but at least give positives as well. So people are just not happy with anything anyone is doing if its not what they would recommend. Though I still say that there is a fine line. Some people do stupid ish and expect you to agree with them and tell them it will be okay. But it wont unless they change. Sometimes as friends apart of being helpful is telling them the truth.

    1. Haha, I see things a lot that pisses me off, but only choose to speak about a few of them. I can never understand why people like to beat down on others, but that is not how I roll. I think I can be more productive with encouragement than using harsh tones to belittle people.

  11. Couldn’t agree more. Why would you want to make someone feel bad about themselves when you could instead empower them to feel good about positive changes they are making? I think it largely comes from a place of personal insecurity. We should strive for a world where we can all learn from each other in a constructive way, not divide each other into “rights” and “wrongs”. Hopefully this message spreads.

    1. Spot on Matt. Empower those that need it to make the changes necessary in their lives. Yes, some need the shock truths, but those are few and far between.

  12. I agree with you. Some people just spout stuff out of there mouth for the sake of hearing themselves. If what you’re about to say isn’t actually going to “help” the person, then just keep your mouth shut and keep it to yourself.

  13. This is a great post! I fully agree with you. There are a lot of unhappy people out there that just ooze misery by being a bully and bringing other people down with them. Misery loves company!

    1. You are right Joshua. The internet allows them to vent their frustrations with others without the repercussions of the real world.

  14. I LOVE this post, Grayson. I couldn’t agree more. Overall I have been really impressed by how supportive the PF community is. But there is a subset that seems to thrive on putting others down and making them feel bad for getting into debt. Or for wanting things that they think are frivolous. Maybe they are – but if it’s something they want AND can afford – then go for it. Dude – who am I to judge? I imagine people come to PF blogs for support and knowledge on how to get out of debt – not to be demeaned for mistakes that I have assume most PF bloggers made themselves.

    1. Thank you Tanya. This is not just about the PF space, but all in all, those bloggers are very kind to one another. This is just about the online space in general. Why do we feel we can hide behind our computers and tear people down?

  15. I completely agree with you, Grayson. I also started my blog to help people with their personal finances. I don’t want to discourage anyone from making their financial situation better. I only hope I’m helping them!

  16. I listen to my readers when they speak to me and speak to others. I read all of their comments. I learned early on that people are in debt not because they spend like nobody is watching but for many reasons. I can’t count alll the ways but job loss, disability, relocation, marriage or relationship breakdown, alimony, lawsuits… etcetc…. there are so many reasons. I think it’s important to make a point but it’s also important to motivate and encourage my fans to create a plan. People will respect you more when you are open to understanding that not everyone is in debt because of their own doing.

    1. I am with you here Mr. CBB! There are so many reasons why people are in debt and we need to encourage these people to change their habits or just work through the debt depending on how they got into it. We don’t have to belittle them because they are in debt.

  17. It always helps to be encouraging of other bloggers. I try to do be as much as possible but there are times where people are making one mistake after another and I can’t be supportive of that after a while. That being said, I love how supportive the PF community is and it is important to help each other out as much as possible.

    1. I agree that we can’t condone people that continue making mistakes. There are ways to give them feedback that is not belittling them or calling them names. I don’t see any point in that. Having said that, I also think this is way more than just dealing with bloggers. I respect each visitor that comes to my blog, no matter if they own a blog or not. I want to help them if they have financial issues. I won’t call them names or treat them with disrespect because I don’t like their opinion. We just have to know the line before we cross it.

  18. I think that sometimes little can be belittling without realizing what they are doing. I had a comment on a post last year that was really hurtful to me. But knowing that commenter already, I really doubt it was meant that way.

    1. I agree with you there Edward, but the ones that are the premise for this article know all well that they are ripping people. It is not as bad if you are not intentionally being rude, like when it is just the way you say certain things, but when you do it on purpose, that is where I draw the line.

  19. I loved this post. I think compassion and empathy are behaviors that we have to work on daily. I have no idea about the grumpy, rude bloggers because I as a rule AVOID people like this at all costs. I have enough situations and people out there trying to rain on my parade. It takes a lot of focus and energy on my part to stay positive, focused, and honest with myself and the people who read my blog. I don’t want to spread anymore negative chi than I already have in my life (I’m not perfect). Negative chi will always come back to you.

    1. Glad you can avoid them, but I read a lot of articles daily and see things. This also applies outside of the personal finance space. Negative chi will most certainly come back to you at some point.

  20. It’s like people have a mask on when they’re over the Internet, and have far less of a filter. I’m the same way, but I use my lack of a filter for good, not evil! Having more of a unique and creative voice and opinion is a far better use of this privilege than belittling others. Unfortunately I don’t see the problem ever being completely solved, but at least we can look at it this way: belittling others is not the way to blogging success, or any type of online success. In a way, you can say Karma will get them.

    1. I agree Kayla. Some people get known for their rude and condescending gestures online, but I think those people are in the minority. You can do better things and achieve greater presence if you just treat people with respect.

  21. What a great post to come back to after falling off the reading/commenting train much too long ago. I couldn’t agree more! I can’t imagine what others must think after reading about all the crap I’ve been writing about lately. But as I thought when I started this whole blogging journey, I don’t really care what people think other than me wanting to inspire them by sharing my stories and mess. We all go through struggles and challenges and I think it’s important to share that–sort of like how it’s good to bond on a human level. We’re bloggers, but we’re all human with thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. underneath the keyboard and monitor….

    1. Glad to see you are back Jen. We all try to help others through different means, but we have to remember that we all do have feelings and react differently to advice and words.

  22. I haven’t read Greg’s stuff so I can’t comment on that, Personally, I’ve read alot of your stuff Grayson, and you always seem to offer a lot of encouragement to people, so I certainly commend you for that. Like the saying goes, you get more bees with honey then vinegar. I’d hope that at M&P we are being helpful towards people in learning from our mistakes about money. Both myself and Zimmy and Gypsy have made some pretty big mistakes, so I certainly can’t see any of us coming down to hard on anyone and their money habits, but if we ever do I’d certainly hope someone calls us out on it to remind us why we started a blog in the first place, to help people not be little them.