Wanna Talk Money?

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bill Kirst overpaid his MasterCard bill last month by $500.

The 29-year-old District resident wanted to tell someone about his silly mistake, which he said he made because he was eager and able to get out of debt. So he logged onto the "money confessions" board at personal finance Web site Geezeo.com.

"whoops, i overpaid my credit card," he wrote to the Web site's 20,000 users, signing it as "anonymous."

His confession accompanied others such as these:

"I'm 30k in debt brought on by my depression and anxiety. my biz has slowed down and my husband has no idea i owe all this money."

"none of my coworkers or friends know that I'm sitting on $300k of savings at 28 years old."

"I am so broke American Express called and said 'Leave home without it!' "

Money used to be a taboo subject. Not anymore, thanks to Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace, which have created a generation willing to talk about anything and everything online. Several new sites are incorporating that impulse into the world of money, blending social networking with personal finance.

"It comes from the whole MySpace generation. Once people become comfortable being social online, it extends into other areas, such as personal finance," said Ryan Williams, co-founder of NetworthIQ, which allows people to publicly keep track of their assets.

The online communities focus on different aspects of personal finance, from investing to budgeting to borrowing and lending money. But the founders of the sites all say they are trying to accomplish the same thing: to get people to make better financial decisions.

Too many people in their 20s and 30s have become addicted to their debit and credit cards, no longer carrying cash in favor of the convenience of plastic, said Peter Glyman, who co-founded Geezeo about a year ago.

That has made them "detached from their finances," he said. "They're not balancing a checkbook, which in some ways forces people to look more closely at their finances. It creates a problem for the consumer in that they're becoming further removed, but it allowed products like ours to get them closer."

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