Graham Clark, of MoneyStepper.com started his blog in June of 2013. A full time resident of Newcastle, United Kingdom, he has spent significant time working abroad, primarily in France, but also in the US, China, Turkey and Ukraine. His unique global personal finance perspective gives MoneyStepper.com a little something extra!
What is your professional background? Do you make blogging a full-time career?
I am a qualified chartered accountant by trade and spent eight years at a Big 4 accountancy practice. However, in September 2014, I decided to make a leap to become a full-time entrepreneur, with Moneystepper being one of my primary ongoing projects.
Why did you start MoneyStepper.com?
Having read personal finance sections of mainstream media for years, I was becoming fed up with the lack of analysis and proof provided to support the dramatic and sensational headlines. Therefore, I created Moneystepper to present articles and financial advice, which provides unbiased opinions based on the actual underlying data.
What is the area of finance that your blog is particularly strong on (a particular demographic you focus on, etc) and how does your personal finance blog differ from others in the space?
We try to cover all bases, but our particular focus in 2015 has been on the Moneystepper Savings Challenge. We currently have 50 participants working towards two major financial goals (net worth improvement and savings rate percentage) and a lot of our content currently supports these participants in achieving, and outperforming, these goals.
The articles on Moneystepper tend to get pretty meaty at times. It’s not uncommon to have an article which is over 5000 words on the site. However, the biggest difference is that I like to show my workings and thought process. This lets people understand the underlying data and allows them to form their own well-informed opinion, rather than being told what to believe.
How do you generate ideas and choose what you want to write about on a daily basis/what helps you generate materials on a consistent basis?
There are usually two starting points. Firstly, I often read a mainstream news article that sensationalizes a certain piece of information (this tends to be related to the stock market or to real estate) and I want to present a more unbiased or reasonable opinion. Secondly, I will personally encounter a problem (or a friend or reader will approach me with a question) and this can evolve into an article.
What are the biggest struggles you have and what is your personal financial goal (both short term and long term)?
My biggest struggle at the moment is to build my own businesses to the level where I can earn a similar income to what I had when I worked full-time in the professional services industry. My short term goals are very much documented in the Moneystepper Savings Challenge, and my long term goal is to be financially free at the age of 40, so that I can sit on the balcony of my paid for house in the South of France, and enjoy good steak and fine wine with great friends and family.
What do you see as the biggest impediment to most people achieving their personal finance goals?
There are too many to count. In a world where consumerism is the norm, it can often be very difficult for people to ignore the short-term distractions and focus on achieving their long term goals.
What are some steps that readers can take tomorrow to begin improving their financial situation?
Easy. Join the Moneystepper Savings Challenge. ;)
What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order?
Excel. That's it. I'm a massive Excel geek and, so far, I've not found any tools which work better for me than my Excel spreadsheet to monitor my finances, and my performance against my goals.
Do you think there is an area of personal finance that there aren't enough resources on?
There is not a great deal of financial advice in the mainstream media surrounding purely passive investing. This clearly is because there isn't the huge advertising budget to support it. Other than on smaller sites, I've not often read about a strategy to simply invest in market-tracking ETFs through the lowest-cost online broker and then forget about your investment for 30 years, despite this being arguably the most profitable way to invest.
What other websites or blogs do you read regularly?
I listen to a lot of podcasts because I'm able to do this whilst I work. I would highly recommend Pete Matthew's Meaningful Money for general advice on money management. For advice on property investment, Rob Bence and Rob Dix at The Property Podcast are your guys.