Discussing Personal Finance IRL

For the most part, people in ‘real life’ don’t really know about my blog and particular interest with personal finance – B and my parents have an idea about it, but they’re not regular readers or anything.  While I’m happy to talk about personal finance when the opportunity arises outside of this blog, rarely do I divulge any information or advice about it unless 1) I know the other person is also interested in personal finance or 2) they ask for advice.  Even with the latter, I will give my opinion (“no, you should not buy that 2014 luxury car because it will depreciate dramatically next fall, plus you have a lot of student debt to take into account”), but I often find it falls on deaf ears since the person has pretty much made up his/her mind at that point, and/or they will justify away at the reasons for the purchase.  I know, I was one of them, and still am occasionally (thankfully, B often tells me to slow my roll and reconsider, which almost always leads to a non-purchase).

Anyway, I wonder if this passivity in real life is actually hurting some loved ones who make poor choices (at least in my opinion) when it comes to purchases.  It seems a lot of loved ones are major spenders, whether it be buying the latest and greatest gadget and having every intention of purchasing the next iPhone despite having the most current version, or buying for the temporary emotional satiation of buying since they’ve had a rough week.  They’re little purchases in the bigger scheme, but can add up to a lot in the long run.  Well, and sometimes, they’re really big purchases that can add up to even more in the long run.

While I try to get them to reconsider, at times the opportunity isn’t there since I don’t really feel they’re open to the process (well, and at times their partner is there who I know has the same views as me, but I feel uncomfortable with chiming in as to not intrude or feel like the other person is being ganged up on).  I often feel in order to make changes in life, one not only has to make the positive behavior a habit, but be open to the process in order for said positive behavior to become instilled then ingrained.  Whether it be becoming fitter, getting out of debt, building wealth, or changing self-defeating attitudes, being open to the process (and realizing there might be some setbacks or downright failures but forging on despite them) is key in making sustainable and progressive changes.  Sometimes it takes awhile for that openness to occur since it can be a pretty vulnerable position to be in – but until someone is ready to take that step, then any reasonable words of advice just goes down the drain since the person is not in that mindset.  No words, either soft spoken with concern or outright (and unproductive) berating, can truly change a person’s mind – the person has to make up his or her own mind.

However, I do wonder if, at times, I should push or advocate a little more.  While I do my best to not say it in a condescending or know-it-all manner, I do feel at times that I just want people to know what I know because it’s said with the best intentions, and because I think it’s pretty enlightening to not get caught up in this constant cycle of debt that a lot of people are in because they deem it ‘normal.’  But, I guess I also have some difficulty with it because I’m not as outspoken about it unless asked, and more often than not, I usually offer different scenarios but ultimately have people reach their own conclusion (even if it’s one that wasn’t an option. :)).

So I’m curious – what do you do?  Does all this knowledge about personal finance infiltrate in real life, and if so, how much or how often do you talk about it, especially if you want to help a person?

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52 thoughts on “Discussing Personal Finance IRL

  1. Some of our pf knowledge filters through to our IRL relationships, but we’re pretty cognizant about not giving advice unless someone asks for it. And even then, we have to be okay when friends don’t do what we would do and let it go. After all, it’s their life.

    • Agreed Mrs. PoP, I think perhaps that’s why I don’t say anything unless outwardly asked. It is frustrating when they make choices despite my response, but I know I’m no stranger to that, as well! For my loved ones that I super care about, I just want to be able to ‘plant the seed’ a bit more, but I guess it’s all in the delivery (and being asked!).

  2. No one in my real life knows about this blog. No one. All they know is that GMD is finally getting her financial act together and I’ve even inspired my sister to pay off her credit cards. That was a great feeling when she told me. 🙂 I think anyone that you care about knows your true manner Anna and know that you wouldn’t be mean/hurtful/judgmental on purpose if you tried to give friendly hints. People in my life “get” my sense of humor so they don’t mind my nudging as much. I think. Maybe. 😉

    • Aww, that’s so awesome that you motivated your sister to pay off her cc’s – awesome job, GMD!! I suppose that’s the best tactic of all – by example. Thanks for your kind words – I sometimes wonder (probably too much) about how I say things or how it was received, so it’s just my hope that they know I mean it in a well-meaning way.

  3. Just my fiancé knows about my blog, mostly because he got all the self-hosting stuff up and running for me. Aside from that, no one knows. I think if someone found my blog and read my about page they would… depending on how well they know me. If I have them on FB and they are anything like me, they would recognize my cats 😉

    I’ve had brief conversations about personal finance in real life with certain friends or co-workers, but generally I am a covert personal finance geek. I can speak about it intelligently when I am asked, but I don’t really start those conversations.

    Occasionally I need to check myself when I am mentioning something I read on a blog in real life though, because it is hard to explain the trail of “yeah, this blog I real weekly…”. My fiancé knows a few bloggers names or acronyms because of my chatter though 🙂

    • LOL love ‘covert personal finance geek’! I imagine you reading PF blogs in like big sunglasses and a hat that covers your face. 😉 That’s so awesome that your fiance set up your blog – very kind of him and glad I found ya. 🙂

  4. Man, this post is too timely for me. I recently tried to reach out and help a close friend I was concerned about and it completely blew up in my face. There’s so much amazing information and knowledge in the PF blogosphere and the urge to share all this good stuff with people we care about is so strong! But money is a tricky, tricky subject for folks that don’t spend all day writing and reading about it, I think. My recent experience has definitely made me wary about trying to talk about financial matters in the future with “in real life” friends – and it even makes me hesitant to share my blog (my husband and both sets of our parents know about it.. but that’s about it!) It’s almost like discovering personal finance and how to make the most of your money is something you have to do on your own – it seems like it’s hard to hear about everything we chat about on a regular basis from a good friend, for some reason.

    • Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that a recent experience didn’t go well! I hope that your friendship can recover from it. 😦 But yes, that’s exactly what I feel, as well – it’s like there’s all this great information about it that it’s kind of exciting to discover, so you want to tell all your loved ones about it! I do agree it’s a really tricky and very delicate subject, so more often than not I just stay silent. I at times want to stop being so silent, especially with ones close to my heart, but it’s just a matter of figuring out a way to do so tactfully (if there is a way). I guess with a lot of things, timing is key.

  5. Remind me when I see you in person to tell you a story about a friend who made a mind blowing purchase that will seriously make you cringe…other than that most of my friends IRL know about my blog now. I figure if anyone wanted my financial opinion they’d ask. Other than that I don’t say my opinion because I usually don’t know everyone’s complete situation, and unless they were physically harming themselves or someone else, I don’t feel it’s my place, even though it’s so hard to stand by and watch.

    • Oh no, that story doesn’t sound good at all… I’ll for sure remind you this weekend. You know, you make a great point about not really knowing one’s complete situation – perhaps I do assume some things when it might be just the opposite! I do know in some cases, that I know it, but I agree it’s hard to say something as not to intrude (especially between couples).

  6. I agree that’s a tough question and that people have to be ready to ask for and accept advice. It puts you in a position that when people do ask for help and advice, you can be really, really encouraging and informative!

    • You know, that’s a really profound thought – at least when people *do* ask, I can try to help in the most enthusiastic way possible! Thank you 🙂

  7. My parents and a few friends know about my blog. I don’t share it with everyone because I know some people wouldn’t care at all. At this point, I wouldn’t really care if they found out though. I don’t give financial advice though, because I feel like there is no point. If people want it, they will ask. I’ve tried and it has blown up in my face!

    • Oh no, sorry to hear that it’s blown up in your face, too – that’s really challenging, and I’m sure makes people hesitant in future situations. I agree that I wouldn’t care if people found out, though I’m not necessarily going to divulge it. I think I still like the somewhat anonymity of talking about things I might necessarily do IRL.

  8. It took us a long time to open up about our debt situation with friends and family.. We finally kinda *had* to when a story about our blog made it into the local paper. But that doesn’t make it any less weird.

    • Wow, you made the local paper?! How awesome is that! But agreed, that must have felt a bit vulnerable, as well – but still, both of you accomplished something really awesome, so hopefully it was something to be really proud about. 🙂

  9. I talk about pf with my partner, my sister and my mom, but only my partner and sister know about my blog. It never seems to come up in conversations with my extended family, who are more into stuff accumulation/lifestyle inflation. I don’t bother bringing it up because a lot of the times people don’t care about it as much as I do and I’m also scared of hurting someone’s feelings. But sometimes the truth does hurt and that’s the only way it can make an impact.

    • Agreed, I think the biggest reason I stay silent is because I really, really hate to think I could possibly hurt someone’s feelings. And you’re right, sometimes with people who like stuff, they don’t really see a problem with it, so I suppose if it makes them happy, then that’s their choice.

  10. A lot of my friends know my blog and I like that it can open conversation. I’ve never been asked for advice nor do I give. However, I do like that friends will feel comfortable discussing more “mundane” topics like 401K’s, utility bills, or credit reports because they know I find it interesting.

    • Wow, that’s really cool that you and your friends are really open with talking about PF stuff. I have some friends that I can be like that with, which makes conversations more interesting (especially with housing maintenance and investing).

  11. My hubby knows I blog, but he never reads it and no one else knows. I prefer it that way.
    I do try to talk about my views when money topic comes up with my friends, but like you said, everybody’s mind’s pretty much made up already, so I can tell nothing I say register. I just talk about my experience. I try to talk to my brother about it a few times, but he avoids it like a plague. Granted, he’s not bad at his personal finance, but he can be much better for sure.

    • Ahh, we walk very similar paths!! I agree that my loved ones aren’t doing so bad, so perhaps I should just keep to my own unless they ask for advice.

  12. I talk openly about personal finance, certainly to a fault. But the results are pretty mediocre. Changing the habits of others is a losing game…that I choose to play anyway. Maybe you’ll see better results though — I have a feeling the delivery is part of the problem, in my case.

    • That’s really cool that you’re ‘fighting the good fight’ in helping others, despite getting mediocre results. I think it’s something worth ‘planting a seed’ in people, but whether it grows into something is another thing. I agree delivery would help (I’m not a tough love sort of person, but say things in a sugar-coated or ‘sweet’ way… but still wanting to get my point across! haha). I haven’t figured out that balance yet, though.

  13. I talk about it a lot more casually and candidly in real life now than I used to, but I don’t think I talk about it too much or too obsessively. Because I don’t know much about investing or calculating net-worth, etc., my conversations about money are still pretty straight-forward.
    When I started dating my boyfriend, we talked about money from the start and that helped move the relationship along in many ways, too.

    • That’s so awesome that you and the bf talked about money right away – I bet that really strengthened your relationship! B was for sure one of the pivotal reasons why I turned my money mistakes around – being on the same page with your partner is pretty awesome! 🙂

  14. I have been in this situation before and it is tough. My parents have an idea about my blog as well, so I’m not really shy when it comes to giving my opinion to them. I stay out of the business of everyone else though, mostly because I don’t think I’m close enough with other family members. I agree that people need to be open minded about things – my parents refused to even think about the idea of giving up cable. Some are just too set in their ways; they’ve been enjoying a certain lifestyle for a while and don’t want to give it up. I mostly don’t like giving unsolicited advice.

      • LOL I’ve actually been eating beans and rice for a couple of weeks now – I get in little streaks of wanting the same stuff, though the cost savings is a nice side benefit, too! 🙂

    • Agreed, there’s some things that, if the person shuts down immediately, I lay off for sure. I mostly want to speak up with people who want the latest and greatest, both for money reasons and because I think it ruins our environment, but I agree that people are going to do what they’re going to do. Still, if I could perhaps at least change one person’s mind, that would be awesome! But, I suppose I just have to wait until asked. 🙂

  15. our friends and family all know about the blog. SO they know where we stand on financial issues, but I never give anyone my opinion unless explicitly asked. Most people, believe it or not, know the difference between right and wrong, but they choose to do things ANYWAY. It would be like telling an overweight person not to eat a cupcake–I’m sure they KNOW they shouldn’t eat the cupcake, but they do it anyway because they are just not ready to take that next step yet. It is just as inppropriate to tell someone how to spend their money. That’s why its called PERSONAL finance : ) The best thing you can do is just continue to be an example and hope that people can learn from you

    • Man, that’s a really great analogy – agreed people probably know that one choice is probably better than the other, but still choose the less beneficial choice (ah, and I can’t talk, I do that more often than I’d like, at least food-wise. :)). But you’re right, and that’s really stuck with me so I should really consider it for others – personal finance is PERSONAL. Thanks Erika. 🙂

  16. Shockingly, I get asked for financial advice all the time. I give it too. Sometimes they listen; sometimes they don’t. And oh yeah, it’s my job. 🙂 LOL!! My blog is definitely not a secret and everyone knows that I’m financial advisor. And let me tell you, it either means everyone wants to ask me questions or they avoid me because 1) They worry I will try to sell them something (I won’t) 2) I remind them of all the things they are spending their money on and probably shouldn’t. It’s still hard for me to sit by and watch people I care about make what appears to be money mistakes. And it can be a very, very tough to give unsolicited advice and have it received well. I find the best way is to tell people the things that I do that relate to what their doing and why. If they want to know more and my opinion, I figure they will ask.

    • Haha, oh dear, I have a feeling that I’m the type to ask about everything since I definitely do that with my best friend who’s a physical therapist – the slightest ache and I’m speed-dialing him. 🙂 You bring up a great point, though – if people ask then they’re probably open to knowing my genuine answer, but if it’s unsolicited then it will most likely backfire (heck, I know that since I did that – it’s really easy to get on the defensive). I think the only set I’m okay with are nuclear family since they have to love me no matter what, it’s like in a contract or something. 😉 But still – it’s hard to get past hurting their feelings, so I just lay low.

  17. Well, my friends and family definitely know about my blog, but my subject matter isn’t super personal in nature either. Otherwise, like you, I’d probably be at least somewhat anonymous as I am fairly private. My parents have always been really good with money but pretty much everyone else has not. Either they had money issues or were extremely, cheap – and I mean cheap, not frugal! I’d like to say I fall somewhere in between! 🙂 It is hard to stay silent when you see someone making a bone-headed decision. We had a big issue with a relative at Christmas who has some major financial issues but is in deep denial about them and it’s always everyone else’s fault. I had to practice my sympathetic face and remember not to roll my eyes.

    • That’s really awesome that your parents were really good with money (despite to the point of being cheap) – I think somewhere in between is where it’s at. 😉 That’s gotta be hard with the relative – I admit I lose my patience a bit with people who play victim role. I call out those behaviors more (at least when it comes to family), especially when they’re blaming it on someone that could be further from the truth!

  18. My family and close friends know that I have a PF blog, but they have no idea how to find it 😛 I talk a lot about personal finance in real life and keep my family and close friends updated on my progress and my plans for the future, but I rarely give advice. From time to time, I mention to my friend who is also my work colleague, that perhaps she shouldn’t be buying lunch every day if she wants to save for a downpayment on a house, but I never push so to speak and I don’t think I should. At the end of the day, we should be able to make up our own mind about our finances since we are the ones who know what’s best for us.

    • Haha, I wonder if they ever google it to try and find it! 🙂 I tend to have your style when it comes to skirting around finance stuff – I’ll make mention of it, but don’t overload people with it. Whether they take it or leave it is up to them, though it’s kinda cool when people pick up on it since it makes for great conversation (especially with housing prices or investing).

  19. Only my immediate family knows about my “secret” blog life. None of my friends or co-workers know. Today my boss was talking about how much student debt she has and how she feels like she’ll never be able to pay it all off. You have no idea how much I wanted to say, “hmm I could help you with that, just read my blog!” lol. Strangely, I have no problem with perfect strangers knowing all about me and my finances. IRL people, not so much.

    • Oh wow, what was your response to your boss when she said that? I bet it would be more challenging to talk about it with IRL people, and I agree that it is interesting I talk about it endlessly (and excitedly) with people I haven’t met before! But I suppose the anonymity (at least for me) makes it easier to talk about the really personal part of personal finance, as well as to get feedback from people way smarter or wiser than me. 🙂

  20. I feel like I’m a weird part of society, one with limited people in debt! I mean I know people in mortgage debt, and I know my brother shops too much (but with a banker father, doesn’t have debt cause he’s pretty much not permitted to! He knows it, and uses debit styled cards for anything where a credit card might be useful – ie online purchases).

    I have a friend who ‘could pay of her $14k consumer debt if she wanted to’ (this discussion was at least 2 years ago) and I remember talking in a group – with her there, about people’s debts and thoughts about paying hers and theirs, down. I’m not sure where her debt is now, but her partner is similar to my mindset – financially smart, has investments and no debt, and he’s getting her to save so they can get a deposit for a house (5-20% is normal in Australia). So I feel comfortable that he’s shaping her. So yeah, I can and will share my debt views IRL

    Oh and everyone knows about my blog – I mean ex BF wants my brownie recipe, so easy to tell him ‘go to my blog’ when I’m out and about. LIkewise photos of a holiday/weekend/shopping, all on my non PF focused blog. I read PF, and debt blogs, despite not having (student or consumer) debt. Weird but true.

    • That’s great that you’re so open to talking about debt IRL – your friend with consumer debt and a really PF-minded partner sounds just like me (as I recently just paid off my debt). I still get nervous bringing it up, but wonder if I should test the waters sometimes, especially when it’s people I really care about. Haha, I love how you told your ex to just go to your blog – that’s gotta be really convenient than trying to find the recipe yourself!

  21. I talk about money TOO much. Or at least, the people in my life who choose to spend like coked up rock stars tell me I do. I don’t mean it judgmentally, I just want to help. These days, I try to keep my mouth shut around people who don’t want to hear about it, but I have a difficult conversation ahead of me with one person who is never going to be able to retire living her current lifestyle. Even if she does a 180, she probably won’t ever be able to, and that makes me sad.

    • I hear you about not wanting to mean it judgmentally, but rather just trying to help – that’s my intention, as well. That’s sad about your friend not being able to retire – I have a couple of friends that I worry about heading that direction, as well, but with those ones I feel truly uncomfortable talking to.

  22. Very interesting…I’ve been thinking about this recently too. I haven’t really told many people about my blog and I try to keep my financial opinions to myself unless I’m asked. I’ll offer advise about saving and investing such as explaining 401k, IRA, tax advantages/consequences but when it comes to living a frugal life, I try to keep my opinions to myself. I made the mistake of speaking up one time, and it didn’t go over well. I didn’t want to sound condescending but I think when you talk about frugality…those in debt think you’re getting on your soap box and lecturing them.

    • You bring up a good point, Andrew – sometimes if it’s not meant in a negative or judgy way, it might still come across as that (heck, I know I get defensive at times). I’m glad I wrote this as all the comments have really given me other things to consider, and if the consequences would be worth it. Hope your house hunting is going well! 🙂

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  24. A lot of my friends know about my blog actually since I promote some posts on my personal FB account. Ever since the blog started growing, they always seem to bring up personal finance with me. Some say that they have to run their purchases through me, like I have to give a blessing or something hahaha.

  25. I’m totally open about my blog IRL and talk about PF frequently (I hope I’m not boring people too often!). I actually wrote a post two days after you published this about how I want our whole society to be more open to talking about money! http://www.evolvingpf.com/2014/01/support-openness-finances/ So yeah, that’s where I stand on that. 🙂 A lot of my friends ask me for financial advice about saving and investing and such but I don’t think they often implement it. I try not to get down in the weeds of individual purchases because my husband and I use Apple products. 🙂

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