Wise Bread ("Living Large on a Small Budget") features posts you would expect to find on a personal finance website ("Escape Student Loan Debt- Slowly," "Financial Advice for My Future Kids," and 'Eight Tips for Improving or Starting a Budget"). And some you might not, such as "10 Great Ways to Use Duct Tape," "25 Things to Do with Rotisserie Chicken," and "Big List of Things to be Happy About").
The popular site, launched in late 2006, had a typical start. Co-founder Will Chen, then a young lawyer, found himself living an unsustainable lifestyle. "I saw a lot of other lawyers buying expensive cars and joining beach clubs, and assumed that I should do the same," he said.
He searched the Internet for financial advice that would resonate with a young professional just out of school. Not impressed with what he saw, he enlisted the help of two friends with similar money management problems, and Wise Bread was born. "Our goal was to start an online community where people can learn about finance in a fun and relaxed atmosphere," he said.
But Wise Bread is not just for milennials anymore. The 2008 economic crisis was “a transformational event,” observed Wise Bread managing editor Meg Favreau. “A lot of people who never really thought about frugality or financial responsibility want to become savvier consumers. In the beginning, we (attracted) readers who were already very frugal, but now we have a much wider (readership). Every household can use our advice on how to get more for the money they have. I like to call it insanely useful and accessible personal finance information and actionable frugal living tips for people at any point (in their lives).”
More than 40 writers, many of whom with their own personal finance blogs, contribute to Wise Bread. They bring with them a wide range of experience and expertise. One area the website excels, Favreau said, is “‘Who’d-a-thunk’ pieces,” which she translates as, “’I never knew what that meant,’ here’s what it means, and here’s how you can use the information.” For example, did you know that the colors of twist ties and plastic clips around the top of a grocery store bread bag indicated what day of the week the load was baked?
Favreau was frugal before frugal was cool. “It’s always been part of my life," she said. "I was always bothered by waste. Beyond that, it’s important right now to be part of a frugal living site, not because it’s trendy, but because of the state of the economy. I want to help people to better manage their money. But at the same time, we want to (change’s people’s attitude that) frugal living is something you have to do until things get better. That’s not what it’s all about. Frugal living is a way to achieve the things you really want to achieve in life. It’s about prioritizing. I have goals I want to achieve and if I’m sensible with my money I can achieve them. That’s very important to me.”
As the economy worsened and Wise Bread trended hotter (The site currently gets 1.7 million page views and one million unique visitors a month, and was recently named the Best Deals and Bargains Blog at the First Annual Financial Blogger's Conference), Favreau has noticed a spike in reader interaction and responses. More people are sharing their stories. “A lot of people want to get out of credit card debt or they want to find a simple way to make their paychecks last longer,” she said.
The site has compiled in its five years an estimable archive of information, which can be accessed on its hub pages. “It’s all our best content on a wide range of subjects in one place,” she said.Wise Bread’s community extends to other favored personal finance blogs and sites to which Wise Bread supplies links.
Personal finance blogs, she said, offer the benefit of “hearing from real people who have gone through (similar) struggles and challenges. It shows that these people have done it, and you can, too."
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.