Conflicts of Interest
It is nearly impossible to get financial advice without a conflict of interest of some type being present. Like with a medical presentation, it is important that a presenter show his conflicts of interest so you can properly evaluate the bias in his presentation.
From the day I started this blog, it has been a for-profit blog. I make plenty of money at my regular job (remember I’m a full-time practicing emergency physician), so you don’t need to spend a lot of time worrying that I’m going to sell you out for $100. The website brought in over $20,000 of income in 2013, but once you subtract expenses and the countless hours of writing the content, organizing the website, and learning about blogging, my actual hourly rate is pretty darn low. The finances of this blog are discussed here.
Why bother being “for-profit” at all?
My primary goal with the website is to assist other-wise smart people who have decided to dedicate long hours to healing and helping others avoid getting taken advantage of by financial professionals and to help them reach financial independence. However, even my altruism sometimes has some bounds. I find that even a tiny profit provides me some additional motivation to work hard.
In addition, I am fascinated by ways to make money passively such as investing in financial markets, developing websites, writing books, and purchasing rental real estate. I enjoy learning about ways to make money and this website gives me a chance to practice that.
Plus, there are some expenses involved in hosting a website including hosting fees, domain registration fees, and hiring others to do things I haven’t yet figured out how to do on my own. Placing ads allows me to not have to pay these costs out of pocket.
Still free to you
There is no subscription or paid newsletter service charged to the reader. All the information here is offered to you completely free. I think having to be irritated by a few ads and reviews is a small price to pay considering the amount of money this advice is likely to make you/save you. Regular readers can also subscribe to the blog feed via an RSS reader or email and avoid having to look at most of the ads.
How I make money
I make money in several different ways on this blog.
1) Direct donations. I have a tip jar. Occasionally someone “buys me a drink”, but that money doesn’t go very far. In fact, $20 is a pretty good year despite the fact that I often spend 1-2 hours a day answering dozens of questions via email and website comments.
2) Ad services. These companies place ads on the site using the context of the site and your personal browsing habits. I make money for showing them and especially when viewers click on them. Google Adsense is the most common one of these across the web and I use it extensively on this site.
3) Privately-placed advertisements. These are ads that people pay me to put on the site. I can easily screen these, and only allow ads from companies that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to you. Many of these I will review in a post on the site. They may be paying me anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars for these ads. I get no additional money from these companies if you click on their ads or if you purchase products from them. But if you do choose to use their services, please mention you found them here.
An example of a privately-placed ad is FinancialPlanning.com, a financial advising company. Most of the firms and professionals listed under the “Recommendations” tab above pay to be listed here. I try to vet them as much as I can (and turn down many) but it’s obviously impossible to know everything about them and their business.
4) Affiliate marketing programs. These companies only pay me if you go to their site from a link on my page AND perform some action at that site, such as making a purchase or opening an account. I then receive a percentage of the purchase or some other commission. I chose these companies from among thousands of others out there because I think they are quality companies whose products would be attractive and useful to my readers. Some of these companies include:
- Ally Bank
- PerkStreet Financial
- Lending Club
- Barnes and Noble
- Discover Bank
- Simple Tuition
- H&R Block at Home
- ACU Army
- Scrubs and Beyond
- Common Bond
- Larson Financial
I make a fair amount off of the Amazon program (4-7% of the price of books ordered through this site) and SoFi, a little from Lending Club Common Bond, and hardly anything off the other programs. Commissions vary from a few cents to a three figure amount.
5) Writing/Speaking Opportunities– As a result of the blog, I am also contacted from time to time and provided with opportunities to write and/or speak for pay.
6) Book Sales– I market my recently published book, The White Coat Investor, heavily on this website. Guess what? I make money if you buy my book. If you buy it through my affiliate links to Amazon, I make even more (although your price is the same.)
Hopefully this will assist you in evaluating my financial conflicts of interest. From time to time, I also publish financial reports for this blog; here’s the latest one. My commitment to you is full disclosure of my financial conflicts of interest so that even if you don’t agree with my opinions, at least you know they’re coming from me. Thus far, profits from this blog are still much less than what I make at my day job (remember I practice medicine full time), so you can rest assured that I don’t need to sell you out to feed my family.
I do publish guest posts from time to time by writers who may have their own financial conflicts of interest. I do, however, make an effort to point these out in editorial notes on the same page.