Welcome to my new guest series where I invite fellow bloggers to write about their blog, how they make money from it and share their top tips and success stories. I would like to give a warm welcome to Simon, from Financial Expert, to tell me about his blog.
Please tell me about your blog and why you started to blog about money
I write at Financial Expert which is focused on investing. For me, investing is the most exhilarating and most rewarding area of personal finance. So there was really only one topic I wanted to devote my blog to.
What was your first ever blog post?
My first post was probably my investing book reviews. I accumulated several books about saving and investing while I was at university, and therefore it made perfect sense to review these to create my first content.
It’s an interesting blog and some snippets from your reviews stood out for me, particularly on investing books to avoid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What is your favourite / most popular post?
If you’re familiar with my site, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the most popular article on my website is my investing courses page. My investing courses are essentially a series of blog posts, aimed at different stages of beginners.
It sounds much more formal than it is, but I find that it really helps to give total newbies a clear order in which to approach different financial topics.
My course page recently began ranking at the top of Google.co.uk for ‘free investing courses’ which has naturally helped guide a lot of keen learners to that particular page!
I can see why it’s popular. It is clear-cut, easy to follow and understand, covers all levels, engaging and it’s free. There’s plenty of good advice and guidance that everyone can learn from, particularly on land and Bitcoin as an investment. Creating blogs as free courses is a brilliant concept.
Have you ever had a parking ticket? Was it deserved?
I’ve earned two. One was fully deserved, and was caused by only ignorance on my part in assuming a car park was free.
The second was frustratingly given after I already thought I had paid for parking via an app.
Despite seeing a confirmation page, the firm later (rightfully) stated that they hadn’t actually taken payment, and therefore the parking ticket they had placed on my car was justified as I technically hadn’t paid.
They said that in spite of what the app said, that it was my responsibility to check that a payment had been charged to my credit card. It was an outrageous scenario which I’d never even heard about before.
You’ll be sorry to hear that I paid up on both occasions.
Motorists are just seen as easy pickings by greedy local authorities and private parking operators. Terms and conditions need to be clear and easy to understand, and any T & Cs that are considered unfair and tilt the scales of justice in favour of the operator can be rendered null and void. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers the use of unfair terms in consumer contracts.
A reasonable person would not expect to have to check that their credit / debit card had been charged via an app for a parking ticket. I keep saying that we are taken for a bunch of mugs in this country, and part of the problem is a lack of awareness of consumer rights.
What’s your biggest money failure?
From a savings & budgeting perspective, my biggest ‘failure’ was owning a Jaguar F-Type for a couple of years.
Buying my dream car naturally tore up my short-term savings plan and probably pushed back an eventual house purchase by a few years. You could almost hear the depreciation each time you pushed the ignition button.
With that being said, because it was funded by savings, and because it was a spending choice, I made with my eyes wide open, I can’t feel too bad about it. If I had my time again, I’d turn back up to the dealership again. So, I suppose that while it was a financial failure, it’s one I can smile about!
Interestingly, mine is precisely the same money failure – albeit with a Jaguar XF. I part-exchanged a Jaguar X-Type which was simply an unlucky car that had more hits than the Beatles for one which was simply riddled with faults and poor build quality. It looked great; the engine was incredible but I rued buying it. I ended up handing it back after 3 months and lost about £4,000. I should have rejected it straight away, but I didn’t know what I know now.
What’s your biggest money success?
During the first year of an online property investment platform, I noticed that the values of properties would often ‘pop’ up in valuation between their initial funding (i.e. the price I invested at) and when shares in that property were able to be sold on the platform’s internal market (the price I could sell at).
By investing in each new-funding round and immediately selling on the secondary market, I found I could make 5 – 10% returns each time. I therefore liquidated my holdings and began to churn through properties as quickly as I could.
After about 6 months of activity, the secondary market matured and the selling activity of investors like me brought down the sale prices, such that the ‘pop’ eventually became only a small ‘blip’.
I consider this my biggest success because I am proud that I had the courage to stake real money behind a theory, and it paid off!
Excellent! I don’t think anyone would regret investing in property. Bricks and mortar are a solid, tangible investment.
Do you ever complain to get redress and refunds if service or goods don’t come up to scratch?
I’m probably a little bit too British to do this in person. However, I’ve been known to send a polite email every so often.
I don’t advocate complaining for the sake of it, although I think consumers need to do more of it to seek redress and raise standards for everyone.
Potholes and the state of the roads are the bane of our lives. Have you ever won a pothole claim? Do you know how easy it is?
Over my ten years of driving, I have to say that it’s been the nails of the road which have had it in for me, rather than the craters and canyons which we affectionately know as ‘potholes’.
It’s the potholes for me that grinds my gears. We drive on what’s left of the roads around Edinburgh and the Councils couldn’t care less. I know that the claims management companies work in cahoots with the Councils to reject legitimate claims to save Councils money, which is completely unacceptable.
Which Moneyblogger(s) do you most admire and why?
I’m gripped by Nicola (The Frugal Cottage) dividend updates. As an investor in funds which reinvest dividends automatically, I never get to ‘see’ the dividends themselves, and find it very interesting to see the trickle come in. Dividends are underestimated.
The power of compound interest and dividends to reinvest is underestimated, I know.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I recently hit a few goals that I set myself a long time ago, so you could say I’m currently pressing the ‘reset button’ on lifetime ambitions and don’t know exactly what I’d like the future to hold.
However, I love the independence of being a blogger and hope that I have reached the visitor levels seen by other UK Money Bloggers (1,000 visitors per day). I currently receive about 100 visitors a day, so I’ve some distance to close.
It’s all a work in progress with a blog – I get that. People don’t realise how much work is involved and how time consuming it is. You have a great website with plenty of content that people can learn from – best of luck!
Thank you once again Simon for sharing your story with me. I found your answers interesting to read and it’s great to see what you have achieved from your Financial Expert blog as well as the inspiration behind it. The free investing courses offer a fantastic insight in to the world of investing and I was really impressed with them.
Your website is great and there is plenty of good content there that people can take something from.
Have a look at Financial Expert and see for yourself.