Author Topic: How long is too long for a case study post?  (Read 4610 times)

red7

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How long is too long for a case study post?
« on: August 10, 2014, 02:27:07 PM »
I am writing up a case study because I'd like to get Mustachian opinions on my current situation and goals, but I have quite a few circumstances that I feel need explanation. This is making my case study very, VERY long (like 2K words long). I've tried to edit it down, but I almost always end up right back where I started. Should I post the bare minimum and add information as people ask for it? Or just go for it, and post the case study with all its gruesome detail? I suspect there will be a lot of similar questions if I don't give much background in the initial post, and I think it helps to give a couple of recent examples to illustrate some of what I'm facing.

Thoughts?



Doomspark

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2014, 02:41:34 PM »
I say put everything in the first post.  Use formatting so it doesn't look like "wall o' text".

Not sure there's any such thing as "too much" information.

swick

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2014, 02:59:10 PM »
The idea to break it up through formatting is a good idea - but it is always best to give as much info as you have/are comfortable with.

Otherwise, you have people trying to give you advice and suggestions based on partial information which can be a waste of time for them and dangerous for you.

Cap_Scarlet

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2014, 02:59:38 PM »
Think of it like a movie trailer - start with the interesting bits to get people in the theatre.

swick

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2014, 03:06:44 PM »
Think of it like a movie trailer - start with the interesting bits to get people in the theatre.

I disagree with this. Most of the people who will respond with good info to case studies are those who genuinely care and want to try and help. They also tend to be analytical and concerned with details and numbers. You will get more thought out and helpful responses when people can look at the whole picture, instead of having to wait and ask over and over again for more info - that makes for longer threads, but not necessarily more useful ones.

Although - if most of the extra words are justifications and excuses - you will get some flak.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 03:16:01 PM by swick »

red7

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2014, 03:22:33 PM »
Although - if most of the extra words are justifications and excuses - you will get some flak.

Thank you for this. It hadn't occurred to me that some of what I think is "explaining" might actually be "justifying/excusing." I will take a harder look at what is truly a necessary explanation and what is just an excuse disguised in emotion.

swick

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2014, 03:27:14 PM »
Although - if most of the extra words are justifications and excuses - you will get some flak.

Thank you for this. It hadn't occurred to me that some of what I think is "explaining" might actually be "justifying/excusing." I will take a harder look at what is truly a necessary explanation and what is just an excuse disguised in emotion.

As long as YOU realize that it may be justifying/excusing and acknowledge it, it isn't necessarily bad to include. Case studies are rarely "just about hard numbers" behind every number there is a thought process -  either conscious or not, and knowing how you process/make decisions can be very helpful when you are creating a plan moving forward.

Cap_Scarlet

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2014, 03:35:56 PM »
Think of it like a movie trailer - start with the interesting bits to get people in the theatre.

I disagree with this. Most of the people who will respond with good info to case studies are those who genuinely care and want to try and help. They also tend to be analytical and concerned with details and numbers. You will get more thought out and helpful responses when people can look at the whole picture, instead of having to wait and ask over and over again for more info - that makes for longer threads, but not necessarily more useful ones.

Although - if most of the extra words are justifications and excuses - you will get some flak.

I was being slightly (but only slightly) facetious.

Actually by summarising its easier to put in just the key facts (most good reports are written that way i.e. with an executive summary) which means more people will likely tprovide feedback.

just my point of view.

wtjbatman

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2014, 07:35:15 PM »
Just post it dude. Never seen anyone judged for having too long of a post, just people who faux-apologize for writing too much. Uh, it's a forum on the internet. Write away to your hearts content. The worst that will happen is some people will respond who clearly haven't read the entire original post.

On the other hand, I've seen plenty of posts, including "case studies", where there is a serious lack of information, and people have to follow up with the same questions every time just to be able to provide positive feedback. "How much debt are actually in? What is your take home pay? How much do you really spend each month?" etc.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2014, 08:22:37 PM »
As long as it's formatted well, more rather than less information is best. Helps you get the best possible advice.

rmendpara

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2014, 11:32:29 PM »
Just try and stick to relevant information.

Most of us are also humans with feelings and emotions, but we don't need all those details in order to give you financial advice.

Yes, you may have a handicapped spouse, mentally challenged parent, and Autistic child while are throwing you in debt to just buy food, but that doesn't really change the fact that you are looking for financial advice (though, admittedly, I will feel horrible about complaining about anything for at least a few days in my own life).

Try and keep it to relevant facts, and as concise as possible, while still getting across the necessary info.

I see more posts with too little info than too much...

+/- 500 words if I had to put a #
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 11:37:49 PM by rmendpara »

MDM

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2014, 12:13:53 AM »
Depends on what you want. 

If you want an analysis of your cash flow and specific suggestions for improvement, the more specific (and consistent) your description the more likely you will get useful input.  Numbers are better than words.  If the case is complex, spreadsheets (e.g., see last post in "How To: Write a "Case Study" Topic") are better than numbers in a post.

Some pet peeves (may just be me...):
  - Listing only net income.  Usually leads to questions about "how much in taxes? what pre-tax items do you have?, etc.
  - Adding taxes, insurance, etc. but calling the line item "mortgage payment".  Mortgage payment is Principal+Interest only.  It stops when the mortgage is paid.  The other items continue as long as one owns the house.
  - Not being consistent (i.e., matching the results of the Excel PMT function) with Original Principal, Interest, Term, and Payment when describing loans.  Inconsistencies here lead to questions about an OP in general.  "Remaining Principal" is a nice-to-have, if and only if the loan will be fully paid within a year or so. 

If you want input on a "life situation", words are probably better than numbers.

swick

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2014, 12:45:57 AM »
Most of us are also humans with feelings and emotions, but we don't need all those details in order to give you financial advice.

Yes, you may have a handicapped spouse, mentally challenged parent, and Autistic child while are throwing you in debt to just buy food, but that doesn't really change the fact that you are looking for financial advice (though, admittedly, I will feel horrible about complaining about anything for at least a few days in my own life).

I personally take "life circumstances" into consideration when I am offering advice/solutions. While it has a lot to do with the numbers, which in theory are black and white, I would have very different advice for a single person just out of school with a ton of student loan debt then I would for a person in the situation like you describe above.

BlueHouse

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Re: How long is too long for a case study post?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2014, 06:19:00 AM »
Although - if most of the extra words are justifications and excuses - you will get some flak.

Thank you for this. It hadn't occurred to me that some of what I think is "explaining" might actually be "justifying/excusing." I will take a harder look at what is truly a necessary explanation and what is just an excuse disguised in emotion.

When I wrote my case study, I realized I had a reason for every choice I made, which just started turning into excuses. You want financial advice without emotion, so just post the facts. Let others ask why you made certain choices.  And they will. Sometimes it will change perspective, but more often it will make you think harder about your choices and reasons.
I suggest you go as factual and unemotional as possible, take the punches, and respond point by point to each request for more info. Financially, the justifications rarely matter and you want unbiased opinions because you will have enough emotion to more than make up for it.   It's not easy. Good luck.