About William C. Spaulding and thismatter.com
My name is William C. Spaulding. I am the author of all the articles on https://thismatter.com. The purpose of this website is to provide fundamental information about economics, personal finance, and investments, and to present the information as concisely and as clearly as possible — through examples, illustrations, tables, and other pedagogic aids — for the fastest comprehension. It is not intended as financial, trading, or legal advice, but rather, to provide an overview of how things work and, sometimes, why things work the way they do.
My articles usually have many links to other articles on my site and also to external resources. Links to other articles on my site, such as this one on credit scores, are underlined in blue, or red if visited, and open in the same window. Links to external references are underlined in green as in this https://example.com and open in a new window. If they are PDF files, then the link will be underlined in black and will display "PDF" when you hover over it, as you can do right now for this example link: https://www.example.com/example.pdf.
A table of contents in outline form is at the bottom of every page. Clicking a link in the 1st column of the table displays the headings and some of the links in the 2nd column for that subject. Headings can be expanded or contracted by clicking or touching the heading.
My website also has style sheet sections for printing and for viewing on mobile devices. If a page is printed, it will not include any advertising, navigational links, or any other content that would not be useful on the printed page. On screens wider than 1,400 pixels, there is a fixed sidebar with a search box at the top followed by navigational links to major sections of the site. In the footer of each page are sharing tools, such as for Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. On smaller screens, the pages have no sidebar so that all the screen space can be devoted to the article. In this case, the search box is located below the footer near the bottom of each page.
To facilitate navigation, my website provides the following keyboard shortcuts:
- Control + /: Scroll to full site menu
- Alt + ` (backtick): Sets focus in the Google search box to search this site.
- Alt + 0: Show detailed article outline
- Alt + .: Show only headings in the outline
- Alt + 1: Show article links
- Control + Right Arrow: Next Article
- Control + Left Arrow: Previous Article
Note, however, that the outline features do not work in Microsoft Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge browsers, as of May 20, 2016. I originally added the outline feature to facilitate article editing, but it is also a good way to navigate within the document, especially a long document. You can click any element in the outline to go to that element in the document. The outline will close when any part of the outline is clicked. With the full site menu, you can quickly see all the articles on my site by clicking the various headings and subheadings. Clicking on a link will take you immediately to that article.
I am a financial writer who has been writing about financial topics since at least 2005. I have a degree in philosophy and business from Millersville University, located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but most of my knowledge comes from constantly reading, writing, and thinking, and doing examples. I continually read textbooks, magazine articles, and other news sources about economics, personal finance, and investments. Unlike most other sites, I continually edit my articles to provide more or updated information and to make it clearer, especially when my readers alert me to mistakes or ambiguities. I also provide worked out examples for many of the articles. In my opinion, writing is the best education, because it forces you to think deeply about the topic, to research it thoroughly, and to ensure that it is coherent with other principles and facts. I do sometimes disagree with the consensus and I will point out why I believe it is so, allowing you to decide if my argument has merit. I also get feedback from readers like yourself, pointing out mistakes, which I correct immediately — one of the many benefits of reading from a website rather than a book, even an ebook.
I also provide many references to my topics, including to individual facts, such as points of law, where you can review that information instantly by clicking on the link, which will open in a new window. For instance, in my tax articles, I provide direct links to all the referenced IRS forms and provide a direct link to many of the individual provisions of the tax code and to the numerous instructions and other publications provided by the IRS.
Another source of my knowledge, of course, is from personal experience, although it is, by necessity, much more limited than the many topics that I cover. Nonetheless, writing about many topics gives me a greater perspective and better insight into each individual topic, since they are interrelated.
Currently, the only advertising that I display are Google ads. I am not interested in affiliate marketing or any other type of advertising at the present time. The Google AdSense program takes only minimal effort to set up and requires very little maintenance, which allows me to focus on writing, which is what I want to do.
I don't do link exchanges. I only link to articles that I think are worthy of the link or that were sources of information for an article. And when I do provide a link, I never ask for one in return, since I expect that other people should only link to my site if they think it is worthy and relevant.
I also never allow anyone else to write articles for my site, especially when the purpose is to provide links to their site. So don't ask.
Another request that I often receive is to review somebody's website. I usually have a schedule of what I am going to do, and only so much time to do it. Furthermore, I currently do not write reviews of other websites. I do sometimes mention websites, and provide links to them, if I think it is a good site, but I am not going to disrupt my schedule simply to respond to someone's request.
A Note to the Grammarian Police
Originally, grammar was the study of how a language was constructed, how the individual words are put together to form meaning. Then, in time, some people have dubbed themselves to be the grammarian police — grammandos! — and have asserted that writing must follow the rules of grammar rigorously, and, nowadays, we even have grammar software to ensure that our writing is so constructed. I disagree with maintaining a rigid grammatical structure.
I believe that the main purpose of language is to communicate. If there is a better way to communicate, then it should be done, even if it breaks the rules of grammar. Case in point: writing numbers as actual numbers rather than as words, because numbers can be read much faster when they are written as numbers rather than as words, including the numbers 1 through 10. (The only problem with 1 is that it looks like I, depending on the font family of the letters, and my voice recognition software seems to prefer "one" over 1.) However, I only use the number 1 when referring to the number, not when it is being used to refer to a person or thing, such as "any one of you". I also know that grammandos are not gonna like "gonna" nor the fact that I put the period after the apostrophe. (Okay, I only used "gonna" here to make the grammandos cringe a little.) I also often write first as 1st and second as 2nd, and so on. I don't always write ordinal numbers this way, since I have to consider how people will search for certain topics. So in those cases where the ordinal number may be part of popular search terms, I will continue to write it out as a word.
Because nouns can also be used as adjectives, I have also chosen, in many cases, where there is no possibility of misinterpretation, to use the noun as an adjective rather than using possessive forms of the noun. So, I write stockholders equity rather than stockholders' equity. I think this looks cleaner.
I think language can be improved in many ways to speed comprehension. For instance, using mathematical symbols for some words, such as = for equals. I don't do this on my site because I believe that too many people would probably have a negative opinion of what would probably look awkward to them. However, I believe the awkwardness is only because people are not accustomed to seeing things written that way, but if they were, they would become accustomed to it. But I do believe that people would be able to comprehend written words faster if documents were so written. It might be worthwhile to have some scientists measure the differences in comprehension speed between a document that used all words and a document that used other common symbols.
In fact, I believe that a committee should be formed that should seek ways to improve language in much the same way as the W3.org works to improve HTML and CSS.
I would like to make 1 suggestion right now. In the English language, no word refers to either male or female in the 3rd person singular. Hence, writers are reduced to saying he or she, his or her, or him or her, or they are forced to alternate between the references to avoid being labeled sexist. Sometimes this is useful when using 2 people in examples, since this removes any ambiguity in pronoun referents, but in most cases, it results in superfluous language. Therefore, I propose the following: e to refer to the 3rd person singular for either sex and er to refer to the objective case, as her does for the pronoun she, and ers for the possessive case. Maybe this new 3rd person singular should be capitalized as the pronoun I is, to distinguish it from the natural logarithm base e, although, in most cases, context should clarify the meaning. In any case, this is just a suggestion. I will also probably use singular they more, if the meaning is clear.
This is not to say that there are not unintended grammatical errors on this site that do impede comprehension. Although I do run the documents through a grammar checker for a 2nd opinion, even if I don't always follow that opinion, I am sure that errors slip through anyway. Nonetheless, if you want to comment on this, please e-mail me. I would be interested in your opinion. Maybe I should set up a Facebook page for this topic, but, alas, I do not have the time.
Since there are over 800 articles on this site written over more than 12 years, my thoughts on grammar and my propensities have changed through the years, yielding some inconsistencies in the rules that I have used, something that grammandos the world over are definitely not gonna like, but considering that what is acceptable and not acceptable in grammar has changed throughout the years, as evidenced by the changing results of Usage Panel surveys, and as evidenced by literature itself, my main objectives are clarity and conciseness. You can at least be consoled that there is no Beowulf here.
At the bottom of every page, including this one, I provide an e-mail link so that if you want to respond to any page or to comment on it, you can do so by e-mailing me. As I have said, I always appreciate constructive feedback. The e-mail address is a forwarding address that will forward all e-mail to my true e-mail address. The reason why I do this is so that I can readily change the e-mail address on the webpages when I start getting spam.
Remember: The purpose of this website is to give a fundamental overview of the topics covered. You should not rely on the website for advice on specific matters. Readers frequently email me, asking specific questions. I will gladly respond to errors or ambiguities in the articles. However, I do not have the time or expertise to answer specific questions about your particular situation, so please do not ask.
Sometimes people email me with lengthy questions or ask me something that would require a lengthy response for a proper answer. I believe that many of these people are students. Usually, I will not respond to these types of questions, because I don't have the time and because it isn't my duty to do their homework.
I am also not on any of the social networks, except Google+, because I do not have the time for general chitchat. Since I already do a lot of writing for my website, it is much more tiring to also write extensively on social networks. The only reason why I am on Google+ is to establish my authorship link, since I do have to worry about my ranking authority to generate traffic. However, I do not update my Google+ profile that much. I do believe that the authorship attribute is a great idea, since it presents a great impetus to write the best articles, but I would rather do all my writing on my own site, where I have complete control and where I can benefit the most from my writing.
I hope you enjoy my site. If you have any constructive comments or suggestions, please email them to me.