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Avoiding That Blogged Down Feeling


Financial Websites Worth Exploring



 Angele  McQuade Navigating the Financial Blogosphere: How To Benefit From Free Information on the Internet
Russell Bailyn, Wiley (September 2007), hardcover, 220 pages, $24.95.

Plenty of folks don’t feel comfortable managing their finances online. But even if you don’t want to use the computer to handle such sensitive tasks, there’s no reason to hesitate in taking advantage of all the information and tools available on the Internet.

There’s a lot happening online. Maybe even too much, especially if you’re a relative newcomer to financial websites. If you’re looking for a guide, Russell Bailyn’s ready to play that role with Navigating the Financial Blogosphere: How To Benefit From Free Information on the Internet.
   
Bailyn is a wealth manager with Premier Financial Advisors who’s also a blogger. He believes people benefit from blogs through being exposed to the collective experience of others with similar interests and goals as well as being inspired by new ideas. Bailyn was attracted to blogs because of the opportunity for a reader to ask questions of an author and for both the expert and the novice to learn something new and valuable from their dialog.
   
The challenge is sorting out truly wise advice from the hype that populates so many financial sites. Although traditional media is becoming more money-driven and static, Bailyn believes blogging is coming into its own as site owners compile information from an array of sources and provide cogent, dynamic commentary. Besides a great introduction to blogs, his insights into financial versions are truly excellent as he discusses the key attributes of successful blogs — unique and frequently updated content is a main characteristic — and helps us understand which sites we should visit.
   
Bailyn bases book chapters on actual questions from his blog readers.  The chapters progress from simple (“How Do I Choose a Bank?”) to more complex (“How Can I Manage My Portfolio Through Asset Allocation and Rebalancing?”). He touches on subjects both philosophical (“Why Is Money Emotional?”) and potentially bewildering (“What Are Alternative Investments?”). He ends each chapter with a handy list of recommended sites.
   
As you might expect, Navigating the Financial Blogosphere offers a lot of financial websites and associated blogs to explore; even veteran browsers should discover a few new ones. One problem with any book listing online content is that websites frequently change addresses or shut down. Bailyn says he’ll post updates on his blog whenever he learns of a critical change.
   
Bailyn spends a good deal of time — maybe too much — explaining why and how to use a financial planner’s services. He even devotes an entire chapter to explaining the meaning and training represented by the alphabet soup of financial designations such as CFP, CLU and QPFC.
   
Although I’m not convinced of the need for this much detail about financial planners in a book ostensibly about financial blogs, it’s helpful information. But it raises the question of what the book is trying to accomplish. The chapter on mortgages is almost all primer, with just a couple of paragraphs devoted to related blogs. But the chapter on investing in stocks is much more balanced between investor education and online resources.
   
I was expecting a book far more centered on financial blogs, with perhaps some commentary on blogging culture. Instead, Bailyn’s book is a hybrid, an introduction to personal finance as well as to online resources. 
   
Perhaps it’s just as well. A book with online references is often outdated before it even goes to press, unfortunately. But readers can use Navigating the Financial Blogosphere as both a guidebook and a stepping stone to the wealth of information just waiting for the curious and the brave.


Angele McQuade is the author of two books, including Investment Clubs for Dummies. You can find her online at angelemcquade.com.


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