If you're drowning in credit card debt, you're likely looking for ways to cut back on spending and pay down your debt. You're not alone. The Web is full of penny-pinching bloggers and everyday financial savants who have been where you are. Many of them can provide valuable tips and a supportive community to help you along your journey.
To be sure, the Internet is full of junk advice. But if you take time to sift through the dregs, you can find some real gems.
Money-saving blogs can teach you specific ways to keep money in your pocket, says Stephen Weyman, founder of HowToSaveMoney.ca. "Decreasing debt is really a function of having enough extra money to devote towards it," he says.
research to find legitimate sources
"[Blog authors] can experiment with topics, viewpoints, explanations and voices that more mainstream publications would never allow," says Kyle Prevost, co-owner of blogs Young and Thrifty and My University Money.
Just be sure to follow blogs with quality information. Many are not regulated by anyone but the blogger. "There are some out there that are not as reliable," Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance and business journalist, cautions. "Some people may present themselves as experts in a field -- and they're not necessarily experts."
Check out the blogger's credentials. Does he have special training or a background in the subject? Some of the best advice may come from regular consumers -- just make sure they're not presenting themselves as something they're not.
Also find out how the website is funded. It's one thing for a blogger to take advertising dollars, but another altogether to accept free products in exchange for providing favourable reviews.
Luckily, social media is on your side. The greatest thing that social media has done for financial blogs is force authenticity, says Scott Plaskett, senior financial planner and CEO at Ironshield Financial Planning.
By reading up and sharing with the online community, you can avoid blogs with bad information and help others do the same. If you're interested in a particular site, do a search for it or the blogger's name on different social media platforms. Or check out user reviews and comments on the blog itself.
"Social media brings with it social proof," says Plaskett. "If a blog is delivering incorrect or bad information, then social media will expose the low quality content very quickly."
Good blogs can yield great results
A worthwhile blog can pay dividends. "You can easily reduce your monthly bills, offset costs with rewards programs, halve your grocery bill with advanced use of coupons and price matching, travel for free -- or nearly free -- and more," says Weyman.
Because many blogs cover niche topics, they can be a great tool for saving money in specific areas of your life. "I can search for 'How to save money on toddlers' and connect with really specific types of people who are also trying to save money in their life and get ideas from them," says Ahmed-Haq.
Even if you aren't in a cookie-cutter scenario, your experiences probably aren't completely unique -- and blogs can help you learn how others are handling them. Ahmed-Haq's own blog, Always Save Money, aims to do just that. She blogs about her personal experiences to help others save money in their day-to-day lives.
Not everyone has time to sift through thousands of blogs to find a few they like, much less keep up with those sites every day to see what deals and advice they offer.
Lifestyle blogger Victoria Weiss suggests sites that email you deals -- such as My Grocery Flyer.
"You go on their site and click on what groceries you buy every week," says Weiss, who plans to blog about the service on MomWhoRuns.com. Then you'll receive a personalized email letting you know where you can find the best deal on your items that week.
"It saves me money and it saves me from having to look at flyers," says Weiss.
Try to follow a blog that takes information from a variety of sources and puts it into one place. That way, you're letting the blogger do most of the work for you.See related: Stop smoking, start saving, Fatter wallet, skinnier jeans: Not using your card at fast food restaurants can save you money and your health