Dan Bortolotti is a do-it-yourself investor who ditched his adviser after hearing about the benefits of index investing.
Jim Yih is a financial educator who chucked his career as an investment adviser to help companies make their employees smarter about pension plans and other money matters.
Meet two of Canada's top money bloggers. The have vastly different backgrounds and perspectives, but are similar in the way they produce some of the smartest, most useful financial content available online.
Mr. Bortolotti's Canadian Couch Potato is the winner of best investing blog in this year's edition of The Globe and Mail's Best of the Blogs competition, while Mr. Yih's Retire Happy Blog wins best personal finance blog. The two were among 23 money blogs that were chosen by a panel of Globe and outside bloggers, myself among them, and then posted online for readers to vote on. The two winners were chosen by Globe staff after giving strong consideration to the vote results.
Mr. Bortolotti is an Aurora, Ont.-based journalist who contributes to MoneySense magazine and has written books on the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders and blue whales. His blog made its debut only about 18 months ago following a conversion to index investing that occurred while covering a boot camp for financial basket cases that was set up by MoneySense.
After hearing several presentations about indexing, where you use exchange-traded funds or index funds, to lock in the returns of various stock and bond indexes, he did some further reading on the topic and decided to buy in for his personal investments, which were being looked after by an investment adviser.
"The blog came out as a way to learn along with people," Mr. Bortolotti said. "As I would learn things, I would write it up on the blog."
It's the quality of those write-ups that distinguishes Canadian Couch Potato. Mr. Bortolotti said that several hours of work are required for each post, some of it spent in pursuit of data that isn't readily available. To keep track of how the portfolios he's built are doing, he learned how to calculate annualized returns with a spreadsheet.
Yes, it's a lot of work for someone with a family and a day job. "I'm doing my blog posts in the middle of the night because I have paying writing gigs that I have to put first."
Mr. Yih's blog is part of a business built on delivering workshops to government and corporate employees. Whereas Mr. Bortolotti is an example of the informed amateur school of blogging, the Edmonton-based Mr. Yih represents the financial-industry veteran side of things.
This may help explain his strong first-place finish in our online voting. Mr. Yih has a monthly newsletter that he sends to thousands of people who have attended his workshops over the years. In a recent issue, he asked them to vote for the Retire Happy Blog in our Best of the Blogs poll.
Self-promotion like this is controversial in the blogging community and there was some grumbling about the Best of the Blogs voting results. But Mr. Yih's victory is based on his very readable style and quality output as much as anything. Recent topics have ranged from the benefits of paying down debts instead of saving, to the basics of registered retirement income funds, or RRIFs. In fact, his recent online guide to RRIFs is useful enough to provide a link right here.
The appeal of the financial amateur blogs is the way they attack their subject matter from the point of view of the complete beginner. Mr. Yih's blog is different. Here, you're getting the goods from someone who put in 12 years as an investment adviser and now spends his time educating people like you about money.
"In every one of our workshops, we ask people to share with us their burning questions," Mr. Yih said. "I feel like it's important for me to share these questions because I wonder how many thousands of other people are asking the same thing."
Mr. Yih said he's slacked off just a bit lately on his blog because of other obligations, but over the long haul it typically delivers two posts a week, plus a round-up of links to other online items of interest.
"I love writing," Mr. Yih said. "Writing keeps me sharp. It forces me to try and focus on what's important."
The following are actual results from our online polling. The two winners were chosen by Globe staff after giving strong consideration to these results:
Top personal finance blogs
1) Retire Happy
Top investing blogs
1) Money Index