Personal Finance and Judgment
A few months ago, I attended another blogger’s son’s first birthday party. During the party a family member asked how the blogger and I knew each other and she replied that I write about personal finance online and that was how she found me. The family member then proceeded to ask me about finance since she needed help in that department and I just stood there dumbfounded. I’d say that ‘writing about personal finance’ is a far stretch for what I do, but you know, bygones. I’ve explained before that it’s more of the dark art of complaining about finances in the written word as I ever so slowly try my hand at being an actual adult. Something that I have yet to come to terms with. More importantly, I’ve come to realize that my bad decision making and the learning after such atrocious mistakes might be helpful to others in the same boat. So, I really don’t mind the ‘writing’ about personal finance or how much budgeting is just a ploy to have my soul sucked from me. I do it and enjoy it because sharing makes me feel less alone as I’m venturing through these rather treacherous waters.
Last week, Abigail M. Schilling, made an interesting point about writing about money or actually why she doesn’t write about money:
I don't like to write about money on my blog because it's such a target judgmental subject. Everyone has views on what money should be spent on, how it should be spent, how it should be saved, etc. And while there are "wrong" ways to do things, most people are making the right decisions for them.
I can understand her concerns because there is judgment by others on most everything that is put out there and money like politics, religion and race, can be a very touchy subject. I like to think that while yes, I was incredibly irresponsible for a very long time, with the spending of everything in my savings account AND not having a 401(K) that I’ve grown in leaps and bounds and the only remnants of my past fiscal blunders are the incessant bills from Gap. I love Gap and its subsidiaries, but really, they’re starting to chap my hide a bit. I’ve put every single financial mistake I’ve made out there and have owned up to it with as much candor as possible. As I said before, the act of writing and discussing personal finance – and the possible judgment that might come with it – is a ‘service’ of sorts, especially for the 20-30 set, who are probably out there 401(K)-less (seriously, you will NOT miss the money).
That said, there are people who discuss personal finance far better and with more details and advice and generally know how, than I could ever produce: Two of my favorites being Young and Broke and An English Major’s Money; both are young women catering to the almost adult but not quite sure/semi-irresponsible crowd.
And for the record, I judge how people spend their money all of the time. I have one friend that travels like Europe might not be there next week but doesn’t have a 401(K) (I really can’t stress it enough. In 40 years, you’ll thank me). It drives me absolutely insane to the point where I can’t listen to this friend wax poetic about their most recent jaunts because of this stupid feeling that their behavior is irresponsible. That said, do I say anything to my friend due to my expert advice on personal finance? Umm, no. Mostly because people have kept quiet when I confess my fiscal sins, unless I’ve asked for advice. That’s the thing about personal finance, it’s technically personal. And if my friend wants to travel around Europe and I want to purchase all of my groceries from Whole Paycheck, then so be it. But one always learns.