“Personal finance is personal.”
How many freaking times have you seen that cliché of a line in PF blogs? I’m assuming at least once per post. It is usually said either (A) in response to someone berating the author’s financial choices, or (B) as justification of a questionable financial decision before anyone even has the chance to make a comment.
I’ve said it, you’ve said it, everyone has used this line. And you know what? It’s true, everyone has different financial priorities. Personal finance is personal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s smart.
The personal finance blogosphere is basically split up into four groups, (1) the early retirees, (2) the traveling minimalists, (3) the frugalities, and (4) the why the hell do you write about personal finance-ers. Let me break this down for you:
(1) The Early Retirees:
- Want to retire at the age of 40ish.
- Will reach this goal through any means necessary including: mild starvation, buying used underwear, and charging their 6-year-old rent.
- Hardcore cheapskates. Everything you do that doesn’t fall in line with their almost homeless lifestyle is gluttonous and financially unacceptable.
(2) The Traveling Minimalists:
- Aren’t willing to give up experiences in favor of money hoarding.
- To compensate, they can fit most of their belongings in a suitcase as they don’t purchase a lot. (However, they generally purchase a small quantity of high quality items)
- Have fat savings accounts and save a large portion of their incomes in order to have more experiences.
(3) The Frugalites:
- Usually have debt, low incomes, are saving for something big, or just really hate not getting a good deal.
- Coupon cutters, laundry detergent makers, do-it-yourselfers.
- Get by on less and pinch pennies – maybe because they want to raise 8 kids on a single income or maybe because they want to save for a house that they can decorate with handmade, crocheted everything.
(4) The Why the Hell Do You Write About Personal Finance-ers.
- You see a train wreck.
- You want to look away.
- You can’t. Freaking. Look. Away.
The first three groups have accepted that the others exist. The early retirees don’t understand the traveling minimalists, the minimalists don’t understand the frugalites, but they’ve all embraced that there are people who prioritize differently. And then there are those people who you just want to scream at repeatedly, “You don’t get to call personal finance personal! You aren’t doing it right no matter what your priorities are!” These people don’t need excuses and justifications. These people need rules. So let’s come up with some basic rules, PFers. Let’s do the impossible and come up with a set of standard rules that aren’t personal. They’re just common sense.
- If your net worth is decreasing every month, you’re not doing it right.
- If you spend more than you make on frivolous crap, you’re not doing it right.
- If you are 52 and haven’t opened a retirement account, you’re not doing it right.
- If your child’s lemonade stand is your primary source of income, you’re not doing it right.
- If you know all your debt collectors by name, you’re not doing it right.
- If your bill paying strategy is “I’m sure it will take care of itself”, you’re not doing it right.
- If you aren’t reading LBee and the Money Tree regularly, YOU’RE NOT FREAKING DOING IT RIGHT! ( I kid, I kid.)
So help me out guys! Add to the list…when do you think personal finance stops being personal and starts being stupid?
Carnival of MoneyPros at Family Money Values
Yakezie Carnival at The Ultimate Juggle
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at Money Life and More
Carn. of Financial Camaraderie at My University Money