Year-End Thoughts From a Member of the Digerati

There’s something about The Digerati Life that reminds us here at Ally Bank of having a laid back conversation with a friend. Always informative and never frightening, Silicon Valley Blogger–or SVB as she’s known to her loyal readers–has spent the last few years blogging her financial insights from sunny California.

We caught up with SVB about her 2010 and what she’s looking forward to in 2011.

What financial tool or tip did you learn in 2010 that you really loved?

I encountered many great tips and tools in 2010, but my favorite one was the trend that involved debit cards. These cards are now offering rewards programs much like their credit card counterparts. We are all familiar with rewards credit cards, but what about debit rewards cards? Some prepaid debit cards have enticing programs that allow you to use a card while avoiding the risk of getting into debt. And they have the extra bonus of giving you cash back when you spend.

How did your blog grow in the past year?

It did well this past year. It’s done better than I expected, given that The Digerati Life is an older personal finance blog. But I’ve been working on new features that should complement the blog and I foresee that there will be enough work here for me for many years. There’s still a lot of ground to cover, in my opinion, as I find that there are many ways to reach people about the subject of money and personal finance. I hope that I’ll be able to continue growing my blog for a while.

What’s your financial resolution for 2011?

I’m aiming to get much more organized. I’m the kind of person who finds order even in chaos, so I often manage my finances fairly simply. I have pretty much gotten by with a system that provides basic financial reporting. But I now realize that I can really use a much more organized and sophisticated system for tracking and managing my finances. I’ve used basic spreadsheets to do all my financial tracking, and it’s very clear that I have now outgrown my simple system at this point. So this will be the year I plan to improve the organization of my accounts and my finances.

Give us three words that describe what you think is the ideal bank.

Cost. Service. Rates.

Ideally, I’d look at a bank that offered great services and a solid product roster. I would also look at the bank’s underlying fees and finally, I’d check on yield and rates of return (or performance). But because interest rates come and go, I would place the most emphasis on the quality of customer service and the product choices that a bank makes available to its customers. Product selection is a core requirement for me, because without the product I’m looking for, there’s no reason for me to sign up with a particular bank.

What financial trends do you hope to see in the coming year?

It would be great to see the employment picture improve and the real estate market to begin a solid recovery. But ultimately, we first need to fix the causes of all our economic problems, and so far, these things aren’t really being rightfully addressed, in my opinion. There is still too much borrowing going on — it would be great for us as a nation to start living below our means so that we can put the lid on borrowing. There should be greater efforts to cut costs everywhere. This would help us gradually chip at the deficit and help government bodies successfully balance their budgets. If we proceed down this path, then eventually, we should see an improvement in the economic climate. Can we expect a genuine recovery to last us a while? It remains to be seen.

Thanks, SVB!

What do you guys think? Have you joined the debit card rewards bandwagon? What do you think about SVB’s thoughts about there still being too much borrowing going on?

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