Unless you are a big fan of roller coasters you have not enjoyed the U.S. economy over the last 24 months. One day it's up, the next it's down. From Wall Street to Main Street, most Americans feel like they've been flung through too many upside-down loop-de-loops at high rates of speed; their heads are spinning.
While families are trying to ride out the current economy's dips and curves, Stephanie Rauterkus, Ph.D., an assistant professor of finance at UAB, has launched a new personal-finance blog with information that serves as a kind of lap bar to keep the economy coaster from throwing families off the rails completely.
"I wanted to revisit my family's budget and see how we could improve, and I wanted to keep a written record so that we would have something to look back on in the future," Rauterkus says. "I thought about it some more and the educator in me said 'I'll write about it on a blog so that others can learn what I learn as I go through the process.'"
Rauterkus' blog, 365 Days on a Budget, was started July 5. Every day, the professor, wife and mother of two updates readers on her struggles and successes as she attempts to balance both budget and life. The tagline for the website describes it as a chronicle of the daily challenges and triumphs of a "regular" family as it works to achieve its financial goals by keeping a watchful eye over spending.
"I check the blog every day," says Debbie Colpack, another married mother of two from Hoover, Ala., who follows Rauterkus online.
"It reinforces some of the decisions my husband and I have made recently, because sometimes we feel like we are flying blind," Colpack says. "Reading Stephanie's viewpoint, I can relate to it, and it helps me feel like I'm headed in the right direction."
Rauterkus says she sometimes takes a professor's approach to the blog and educates readers on crucial elements of personal finance - but she also uses the site to share personal, anecdotal stories that resonate.
"While the professor mode is useful, I get the most comments when I am anecdotal," Rauterkus says. "I'll write about buying 60 pounds of guinea pig food pellets because it was a great deal, and it can be funny; but there is still a message there about responsibility and shopping around for the best price.
"The personal stories are more interesting and can have more of a lasting impact because readers can relate to them," she says.
Rauterkus says visitors from 15 countries have already clicked on to the blog, and her audience grows daily. Join Rauterkus on her journey at www.365daysonabudget.blogspot.com.