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Manshu Verma of Onemint

Manshu Verma

I read many personal finance blogs, infact have been inspired by them to start my own, one of them is Onemint. Onemint is a personal finance blog, among the top 5 personal blogs with more than 10,000 readers. It is run by Manshu  who has varied interests personal finance, reading books, 3D printing, cricket and his Saturday Links (Weekend Links Sep 6 2013) reflect all that.  He was kind enough to agree to our request for an interview. His answer to our questions are given below, Hope you enjoy it.

Q. Why is there a need for personal finance blog when there are so much personal finance information available- newspapers, magazines, mutual fund sites, news channel?

Most American papers have established blogs now, and forget about that – a lot of blogs are more profitable than newspapers themselves. And even if you look at Indian blogs, and how widely the popular ones are followed, their readership is impressive to say the least. This question is no longer relevant. Blogging and bloggers are here to stay, and have shown their importance and use to society in the last few years.

Q. What do you do besides your blog – professionally. How do you find the time to blog with your day job?

 I’m an analyst with a consulting firm and it is a very taxing job. Finding time for blog is hard and usually comes at the expense of weekends or sleep. I like it so I do it but every once in a while I stop blogging and blame fatigue and that’s because I’ve been working 7 days a week for a few months at a stretch before that.

 Q. What sparked your interest in personal finance blogging ?How did you start blogging?

 I find it hard to define what personal finance is and I really started writing about stocks and IPOs in specific. From there it evolved, people asked questions, I answered them, and it just evolved. I’ve always been writing, and I think when WordPress reached a level where you no longer spent more time in formatting than writing, I really got regular with blogging.

 Q. What have you learned from blogging – how this has improved your life?

 There are far too many things to be mentioned here, but the number one thing is being patient in the face of criticism. Most of us don’t realize it but our day jobs protect us tremendously from direct criticism. Your boss seldom yells at you and people are polite and indirect while pointing out mistakes.

 For a blogger, it is a lot different, anyone can come in and say your grammar sucks or you are too full of it or that your nose is too big. Just anything at all? How do you deal with it? It’s really hard to get used to it. I found it quite hard to deal with it in the beginning and sometimes I would just stop writing because of how harsh some commenters were. That doesn’t happen now and I think that’s a very useful thing to learn for me.

Q. How do you choose your blog articles? Where do you get the inspiration for writing the blog?

The topics choose themselves quite honestly. But most of the times it is either a question that a reader has asked or a question that I myself have. Each blog post is just that, an answer to a question.

Q. What is your favorite post you have ever written ? Why? (Is it Sachin Tendulkar one ?))

The Sachin post(How often does India win when Sachin scores a century?) is pretty good yeah, it was an interesting question, a good data based objective answer, no one else had answered it yet, and the presentation was quite good too. So, yeah I like that very much. But perhaps the most favorite is also the first thing I ever wrote online. It is not on OneMint, and is something I wrote when I was 15 I think. It was titled “Understanding the nature and value of money”. I must have it in my hard disk somewhere, can’t find it online, and in it I explained what it truly means to be “rich”. I feel proud of it whenever I read that.

 Q. What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a blogger?

 Just to be motivated and repeat the same thing over and over again. Many times my friends look at a post and they don’t get why OneMint is so popular, they feel that they could have written a much better article and maybe they could have, but that’s not the problem. There are any number of people who can write better on a particular topic once, but can you do it 1500 times? And then can you answer questions and respond to comments without fail? I’ve done that for a number of years and I feel that’s the key to success.

Q. Do you practice what you preach? How do you manage your own finances?

I practice every single thing I preach except for one – diversification. My own portfolio varies from 100% equity to 50% equity and the rest in idle cash. I do this because I feel confident in stocks the way only a very few people do, and for most people this is terrible advice and they shouldn’t do it. I feel confident about going about things in this manner, so I do it.

Q. What has been your biggest financial blunder, and what did you learn from it?

 Several mistakes and blunders, but two things that I think I’m not good at and I think others could probably learn from are as follows:

 1. Staying away from Options: If I look at my overall Options trading history, it is negative. There are a few big hits and multiple fails and psychologically the hits make you want to do more and more but I’m just not good at this game, and I should stay away from it. Now Options for me is all Puts or mostly Puts and that is a way of getting short on the market. When you get short on the market, not only do you have to be correct on value but also on timing, and that’s very hard.

2. Running a credit card balance: Most of the time I have zero balance on my credit card, but every once in a while a big expense comes up and I don’t immediately clear it off. When I don’t do that the balance lingers on and grows. It may seem trivial at first but you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. That’s how interest adds up. I think

Q. What are your top three tips in personal finance that you think everyone should know?

  • No credit card debt.
  • Save something every month.
  • Diversify your investments.

Q. Who are your favourite Bloggers / Authorities you follow online?

I feel this is the old way of thinking, and in a few years time this question will be irrelevant and no one will talk in terms of favorite columnists or bloggers.

When I was growing up, I used to look forward to Op-Eds from a few individuals but today’s world is not like that and going forward it will be very different as well. Internet has allowed anyone to publish their thoughts, and Social Media and Google has allowed them to reach as many people as a paper with national circulation would.

You will have authorities in a particular topic on that particular moment but nothing more than that. I had this realization when 80CCF bonds were issued a few years ago. I covered each and every bond, answered every single comment on all those posts, and kept udpating and building depth on that topic. It was very clear to me and anyone watching at that time that for that particular topic, OneMint is the place to go. No other blog or newspaper had such depth and more than that such lively discussion and quick responses to your questions about those bonds that OneMint did. So does that make me an authority on 80CCF bonds? That’s ludicrous and that it was also fleeting. Because others caught on to the things and after a certain point, there was not much difference in what they wrote and I wrote because we had covered all aspects and no new information was coming in. I feel this is the new age, one guy spending a few hours every week can have more depth than anyone else in the game, but that guy will be a different guy for each game and each topic. I think this question perhaps requires a 5,000 word answer on its own but I feel not enough people see things this way and that’s a mistake.

Q. Does blogging about personal finance pays? What makes you continue blogging?

I came very close to quitting about a month or so go because it became too taxing. But then I missed it so much I started writing again. An Indian personal finance blog doesn’t pay in the sense an American one pays. A few years ago you saw a number of personal finance blogs sold off at millions of dollars in the US. In India, this will never be true and if you’re looking to replace your job with a personal finance blog then I think you’ll find it tough.

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