I Miss The Women In Red

I remember many years ago, sitting in my little one bedroom house, after a long shift at a job I hated (but had gone back to, due to my new financial downfall), searching the internet for some small nugget of information that would help me get my life back together. The world of personal finance wasn’t what it is today; There weren’t endless blogs touting the world of frugality, or how to increase your income. Sure, I found books by Suze Orman, and came across Dave Ramsey. I enjoyed Liz Pulliam Weston, but her articles always seemed more geared towards people who had their life together. That certainly wasn’t where I was financially. Eventually, I stumbled across MP Dunleavey. And I was hooked.

You see, MP Dunleavey didn’t come across as a financial expert who’d always made all the right choices, sharing her lists of advice on how to follow in her footsteps. She sometimes struggled, and was often lambasted for the decisions she made. But she approached personal finance as a “normal person”. She had wit, and humor, and spirit. And eventually, she had The Women In Red.

The Women in Red was a pet project of Dunleavey’s. She followed the stories of multiple women trying to improve their financial lives. Each woman’s situation was different, from young to older, married to single, high earners and low earners, in debt or finding financial freedom. They each had goals that they were working towards achieving. They succeeded, and failed, and found all kinds of detours along the way.

Eventually, MP Dunleavey moved on. I followed her for a while, through careers with different publications and organizations. But as her path veered more towards editorial, her writing lost something for me. Gone were the humorous personal trials and tribulations, replaced with the standard “10 Ways To…” articles that are so popular on the web.

The truth is, I miss The Women in Red. Not the women themselves, but the stories of real women, their struggles and successes, their choices and situations. Over the years, I’ve found numerous new blogs to follow, voices that I look forward to hearing. But there seems to be a common “arc” for most writers: Struggling/Overcoming=Personal stories. Success=Lists and advice on what you should be doing. It’s as though success is a destination; Once you’ve overcome your debt, or saved $x, there’s nothing left to your financial journey, no more choices to be made, no more struggles to overcome. The only way to carry on is to advise others on how to get there. Numerous blogs have fallen off my reading list. Sometimes I want to scream (or write in all caps): I know I should cut the cable cord (Done, FYI), and that credit card rewards are great (not a great idea for me at the moment)! But what are YOU doing in your financial life?!?

Why am I writing about this? I’ll be honest, my little blog gets very little traffic; A good day for me is 20 visitors, and I’m still a long ways off from topping 100 page views in a day. But, the longer I’m out there on the blogosphere, the more requests I get for guest posts on my site, etc. I’m not at all opposed to having someone else write on this blog; Actually, I’d love to have some variety here. But the ideas are always the same: “20 Reasons You Should…”, “How To…”. Tell me something personal! What are YOU doing financially?!? I’m not looking to advise people. I’m looking to share stories.

I don’t think there are enough women out there, telling their stories of success and failure, the struggles they face every day. I don’t believe that personal finance is a destination. I love following The Single DollarFrugalwoods, The POPs, and Making Sense of Cents. I love having the voices of other women who are owning what they’re doing, struggles, fears and all. I just wish there were more voices out there.

– Cindy W.

I’ve been on the lookout for old articles from MP Dunleavey. The best I could find was this one: You Really Can’t Be Too Rich.

Comments

  1. I remember that forum. On MSN Money site, I believe. I used to read the money forum and I noticed the women in red but didn’t jump in.
    But I know what you mean.
    Everything is a bit the same, isn’t it? A bit rehearsed. I don’t know….maybe personal finance blogs think they need to lead everyone by the hand when all they have to do is tell us what they are doing. How they are managing. What their SIL is up to. Lol
    I remember years ago AOL had a money forum and there was a person with a screen name IGOTGOALS. I always looked forward to her regular posts because she just basically talked about her day to day life and how it was affected by her money habits. It was inspiring to read about this angle mom who was doing well on a modest salary, staying out of debt and saving a little at a time for a rainy day, for retirement and also for vacation 🙂

    Anyway, I read your comment on the frugalwoods blog and thought I’d visit.

    Debra

    1. I’m glad you decided to click over from Frugalwoods. I love their blog!
      I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m guessing that part of the problem is that people who’ve “succeeded” worry about not having anything that connects them with the average reader anymore. It’s like the only way to stay relevant is talking about how to pay off debt, or overcoming basic financial hurdles. And since that isn’t their story anymore, they write “How To”. But I think Frugalwoods are a great example that, even when you are successful, their are still choices to be made, still challenges to overcome. They’ve NEVER had debt (aside from their mortgage), and yet I still find their story interesting and relevant, despite our financial pictures being so very different.

  2. I totally agree with you! Obviously 🙂 For a while I was reading blogs that were more advice-y, but as I’ve stabilized my life I’ve just found them not so relevant. What I really like is people writing about their lives. If that comes with the occasional tip, great, but I want to know what’s working and not working for them, what decisions they’re thinking through, etc. And yeah, I’m way more interested in women writing than men — the odds of my checking in on your blog more than once or twice go WAY up if you’re a woman. I’m not totally sure why that is; I guess I just don’t feel like I have much in common with the men who write (I might feel different if some of them were artists or educators or freelancers or even single, but they all seem to be in finance or computers and married or at least living with a partner.)

    1. I agree with relating more to people in certain careers. Oddly enough, I relate more to the freelance and artist types too, even though I’m in accounting. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m usually closer in wage to them, or if it’s because that’s eventually where I’d like to make it back to (after all, my degree is in Graphic Design).

      I think I’m biased against men when it comes to earnings, because I’ve spent so much time in male dominated industries. Within the current group of companies I work for, sometimes it seems like all you need to get a higher paying job is a penis. Even better if you play golf! I think it’s conditioned me to believe that men have it easier when it comes to earning more. True or not, I find stories by women who are succeeding much more inspiring / relatable.

  3. This is my first visit to your blog and the second post that I read. I also miss the Women In Red. I followed them for years and lost track.

    1. I’m glad you stopped by and left a comment!
      I wish there was at least a way to pull up the old posts and reread them. Maybe it’s a good thing though… I spend enough time reading things online! I guess I should put some of that time into more productive things!

  4. I loved Women in Red. I was one of the people that used to comment upon it. There were a bunch of us, who were not the subjects of the articles just people who would comment on a discussion board. We would support each other and talk about our progress and our falls. I really missed it. I was actually searching on the internet to see if there was anything left of it and found your article.

    1. Women in Red was great. It’s so hard to find supportive female voices in personal finance!

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