Connecting More Offline in an Online World

Over the past couple of weeks, two of my favorite blogs were sold. There were various reason for their sale, but gaining back valuable time to dedicate to offline high priority items were a common goal for each site's sales.

I can relate. It's one of the main reasons I've moved to a once a week posting schedule here at Debt Discipline. It has been a fantastic move. Sure my overall numbers are down, and I haven't produced any epic, earth moving posts with the additional free time, but my goal of connecting more in the real world is on track.

Blogging is a great outlet. You don't need anyone's approval other than your own to start a site. Its reach can be worldwide and often validated through readers comments and emails. It does, however, have a bit of an introvert feel to it. Similar to having all of your conversations via text or email. It can leave you wanting a bit more of a connection to the real world or real people.

That is one of the main reason I started volunteering my time and getting involved in my local community several years ago. I wanted to take what I was sharing and learned from my blog and other blogs to others offline, firsthand. One little step has grown into something larger, today.

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The Snowball Effect

Many of us are familiar with the debt snowball technique for paying off debt. The processes named after a snowball rolling downhill and gaining momentum. Getting bigger and bigger as it goes.

Similarly, my volunteer path has picked up momentum, and gotten larger over the years like that snowball rolling downhill.

I initially started with joining a committee on my local school board with the goal of bringing financial literacy to our high school.

That goal slowly picked up momentum. I quickly realized parents of our students needed help too. I started to inquire at local libraries about speaking opportunities. Sharing my families debt story. The initial speaking engagement quickly turned into three or four.

Two years into the high school committee, I could see that the school district adopted change slowly. It's part of their overall approval system. Others saw it too. Out of this, a local community coalition was born.

A coalition can sponsors event that a school district can not, and often react quicker. I immediately joined. The goal of the coalition is to unite the community to provide a safe environment and education opportunities.

As I start my fourth year of volunteering, my initial step of joining a committee has turned into much more. An approved K-12 financial literacy curriculum for our school district, several local speaking events that have reached people with over $1.4M in debt, and in October our coalition will be hosting an evening to discuss avoiding student debt.

The avoiding student loan debt will be open to both parents and students and held at a local library. We will be viewing the documentary, “Broke, Busted, and Disgusted” and have a few speakers as well.

I know I must sound like a bit of a broken record on this topic, but its clear help is still needed out there. If all the people still needing help were connecting and understanding all of the online information available, wouldn't we see progress?

Balance

Just like those bloggers who sold their sites to find a better balance of their time, I believe those who continue to blog can find a better balance between online and offline initiatives.

How many times have you heard the phrase “like-minded people” being used as it relates to the personal finance community? Now take it a step further, think of that person who's seeking knowledge, education, help. etc. on a topic and bumps into a like-minded community whose full of information to share.

I for one enjoy reading, but often learn better in a classroom setting, collaborating with others, or listening to lectures. Wide-scale changes in our education system will take time, but our volunteer efforts can have an impact immediately. Think of the old I tell two friends, and they tell two friends, etc. and before you know it the information spreads.

I encourage you to find some offline opportunities to spread your knowledge on the personal finance topic. Strike a balance between all the great information you share online, and take it directly to those in your community. Those in need will thank you.

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