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?