Last week I talked with Brandon from The Almost Millionaire; this week I’m posing some of the same questions to Four Pillars, author of the great (Canadian) personal finance blog, Four Pillars. Four Pillars is coming up to his second anniversary blogging this May. Congrats! You can subscribe to his free feed here to get his posts in your email.
Four Pillars on Blogging
So, what got you started blogging? And where does the name for your blog come from (I think I remember you saying somewhere it’s from some book, but I forget)?
It’s not some book – it’s THE book… :) Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein – my fave investing book ever. It’s just excellent… I started reading a lot of pf blogs and used to comment like crazy – after a while I figured out that I could do a blog myself and gave it a try.
What makes your blog unique?
It isn’t? :) Four Pillars has a lot of opinion posts from both myself and my writing partner Mr. Cheap – while opinion blogs aren’t unique – obviously most opinions are.
Do you maintain other blogs?
ABCsOfInvesting.net – I had the idea to start a beginning investment blog and thought there should be a good market for it. It’s going very well in terms of RSS (1100 in 7 months) but I have to admit that it’s a lot of work to have 2 blogs even though I’m only part time on both. I’d love to do more guest posts to promote it since they have been very well received but it takes time. The ABC blog is a little bit unique because it is geared towards beginning investors – very limited content (1 short post a week) and hopefully easy to understand content.
As another Canadian PF blogger, do you find much difference between Canadian PF blogs vs. US PF blogs – that is, have you learned alot from having to write to mostly US readers, and/or reading mostly US PF blogs? Eg., many of our financial products and situations are really different. Has this ever been much of an issue, or has it been interesting for other reasons?
Good question – there is a big difference in the US and Can blogs since the debt reduction/frugal living blogs are so dominant in the US whereas they don’t seem to be that common in Canada. I think this is a reflection of the popularity of Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar. I think most bloggers get started or inspired by imitating their favourite blogs so a lot of the US blogs were originally fans of GRS and TSD – at least that is my theory. In Canada I think a lot of the existing blogs were inspired by the Canadian Capitalist (at least I was) who is more into investing and day-to-day financial stuff.
I think Four Pillars has more Canadian regular readers although a lot of our posts are applicable to either country so there are a lot of Americans who read as well. ABC was designed to be American – most of the posts are universal but anything specific (ie investment accounts) are all American. It is a bit more work to research the rules for accounts that I’m not personally familiar with but their investment accounts and products work the same way as ours – it’s just some of the terminology and rules that are a bit different so no big deal.
What tips can you give to other bloggers?
I’d say trying to publish 5 times a week was a mistake – too much work! There are a lot of things I’ve changed over the past (almost) 2 years but that has been the result of learning new things. While there are a lot of things I would do different (knowing what I know now) – I don’t really regard them as mistakes.
Four Pillars on Wealthbuilding
Where would you (or your blog) like to be in the next 2-5 years?
Call me unimaginative, but I would like to be in exactly the same place I’m in now – as far as I’m concerned my life is perfect with respect to the big things – I have a great wife, 2 cute little kids, a good job that I actually enjoy going to and the blogs are a lot of fun and are doing quite well. As for the blogs – I do hope they continue to get bigger and more successful but only time will tell.
How about escaping the rat race?
I don’t have any immediate desire to quit my job since I like it – plus I don’t think I could handle being around my 2 kids 24-7 (as much as I love them). I sort of have a freedom-55 plan but I think what I would really like would be to get to the point financially where I wouldn’t sweat much on days when my company is doing layoffs. :)
Do you invest on your own?
I’m mainly a low-cost passive investor however I do dabble in dividend stocks which are probably about 20% of my portfolio.
I assume those are Canadian stocks – do you buy US stocks too? What about DRIP programs (a favourite of mine!), do you find them useful?
Do you believe in retirement (what are your plans here)?
I definitely believe! I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in retirement but if I’m still into blogging then that will be one activity. Travel, being involved with my kids’ activities, volunteering a bit are things I’d like to do.
Where do you see the U.S./world economy in the next 5-10 years?
I think both will be a lot better – it’s like a sports team that is in a slump – they’re not as bad as they look right now.♣
Stay tuned for next week’s interview with ManVsDebt, and in the following weeks, interviews with SuburbanDollar; MyLifeROI and Neal Frankle!
Read about what the previous weeks’ guests had to say here:
A Conversation with The Almost Millionaire (May 1, 2009)
One-Month Blogging Success Story (ManVsDebt, May 13, 2009)
The Crisp, Clean Feel of 1,000,000 Suburban Dollars (Suburban Dollar, May 22, 2009)
In the meantime, if you liked this post, why not sign up (it’s free!) for more updates like this one so you won’t miss any posting of mine – just click on my RSS feed here. [And if you'd like to be interviewed here yourself, let me know by email (see my contact page) or just follow me on Twitter @MoneyEnergy and give me a shout!]
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