My Three Medals for Top Personal Finance Sites, or Your Money Back

The Internet has greatly improved the availability of all sorts of information and advice, including an abundance of personal finance resources. That’s the good news.

The downside: as with dieting, there are no miracle solutions. The best personal finance advice typically centers on the basics – spend less than you make, try to save no matter how much you make and, oh yeah, avoid debt whenever possible.

But even when we know the basics, those of us mildly obsessed with our own personal finances still want more data points. Thankfully there are good sites that differentiate themselves, either through depth and breadth of information provided or a niche focus. In the spirit of the XXI Olympics, I’ve awarded a Gold, Silver and Bronze metal to my top three personal finance sites:

The Gold goes to…

Dave Ramsey: Dave Ramsey has built a virtual personal finance empire over the past decade with a presence on the web, radio, television, and through his local Financial Peace University seminars. Ramsey’s key trademarks include both his distinct spiritual focus and his Baby Steps to financial security. Like other personal finance sites, his site provides a wealth of basic information and much of it ties to Ramsey’s past writings and teachings.

But readers be warned, as with other more narrowly focused sites, Ramsey’s will not appeal to everyone. The site generally takes a no-nonsense approach to most topics and Ramsey is not afraid to speak harshly to those seeking advice. The advice itself has engendered some debate, as Ramsey’s core approach to paying down debt – “The Debt Snowball” – has caused critics to take sides in a “good psychology vs. good finance” debate. But I like him for his good, pull no punches, motivation. His baby steps motivate me to get my life in order.

The Silver…

Get Rich Slowly: Oh how I love this site. It’s a great example of how the web allows personal finance to become even more “personal” than ever before. The site was originally started by J.D. Roth as a side project to detail his own struggles with building savings and paying down debt, but now has become his full time job as he details how he works (and struggles) to apply good financial sense to his own life.

Over the years, I’ve watched as he struggles with career changes, home maintenance, and his desire to buy a new car. Roth brilliantly puts a human face on his site and I feel like I know him personally. The downside, however, to making personal finance this personal is that the website (and others like it) may not relate closely enough to every individual’s life situation.

And our Bronze Winner…

CNN Money: As with other sites run by traditional media outlets that have continued into the internet age, CNN Money serves as a sort of “catch-all” site for financial advice, providing basic information as well as regular advice columns and feature stories. I like that I can easily access tips on retirement savings, college savings or mutual funds. With a breadth of content like this, there really is something for everyone.

These are only three examples of my favorite personal finance sites, from the broad, all encompassing sites to the narrow, niche-community focus. Which ones did I miss, what are some of your favorite personal finance sites?

To reach Donna:

Phone:  212.584.5479
Twitter: @donnamcsorley