I’m very thankful for the incredible amounts of information out there, and I’ve learned many lessons along the way. Sharing information and knowledge is great, but I advocate not doing it in a way that’s off-putting. No person can be an expert on everything and it’s important to remember that.
There have been times when I caught myself looking down on friends and family because they don’t manage their finances the same way I do. I’m not proud of that. I’ve reflected on this and would like to share the lessons I’ve learned.
Don’t Give Out Unsolicited Advice
When we know a lot about a subject, we tend to feel like we should help out our friends and share our knowledge with them. It’s great when you want to point them to the new, hot restaurant that opened up or tell them where to score a good deal on shoes. When it comes to money advice, it can be complicated.
Our society tends to be sensitive about money. We don’t share salary information with our friends and if we talk investments, it’s usually in general terms. Talking money can be taboo and so can handing out unsolicited money advice.
Your intention may be to help your friend but they can take it the wrong way and think that you don’t think they’re smart enough to handle their money or that you disapprove of their choices in life.
I have a colleague who orders takeout for lunch everyday and eats out at restaurants for dinner. He then complains that he has no money for travel and would like to buy an iPad only if he can pay for it in installments. It took every ounce of strength I had to bite my tongue and not tell him that he’d have plenty of money if he stopped eating out so much. I don’t know what his financial situation is truly like. He could very well be just making small talk and delivery an unsolicited financial lecture could have made things awkward at work.
Don’t Make Assumptions
We have the tendency to assume the worst of people. If someone has credit card debt, their house is under water, or if they have a car loan, we assume that it’s because they mismanaged their finances. That’s not always true though. Financial misfortune can happen to any of us. In this day and age, medical debt is one of the top reasons for bankruptcies. Even with health insurance, we may only be one bad car accident away from financial devastation.
There are financial advice floating out there that make it seem if we follow a specific set of steps, we should all be rich. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. When we start out in life, we don’t all have the same background and experiences. Those things shape how we view and manage money. I know saying this may risk making me sound like I have a case of the sour grapes but people aren’t born with the same advantages. I think it’s important to keep that in mind though so that we don’t jump to conclusions about how people manage their finances.
Personal Finance is Not One-Size Fits All
There are general principles of frugality/personal finance that we can all agree is good advice. Paying yourself first, having an emergency fund, and not carrying a credit balance are all sound advice. In terms of how to achieve financial freedom, opinions may differ. Some believe strongly in investing in the stock market. Some prefer real estate while other believe in side hustles.
Some people may say that saving small money is not worth it, you need to make big money. And then there are those who say side hustles aren’t worth it, you should try to get salary bumps at work. It can be confusing and it goes to show how opinions can differ. Personally, I think the most important part of the financial freedom journey is that you have the desire and motivation to change.
You can take time to figure out your roadmap for how you will reach your goals. Figure out what’s right for you and don’t let people tell you that there’s only one correct path towards financial freedom.
No matter what path you choose, don’t look down on others who may disagree with you. We should be happy that someone has chosen to pursue financial freedom. They may not be doing it the same way you would but that’s no reason to sneer or look down on them. Let’s be supportive of each other. Being snobby and condescending is not the way to help people and getting them to change their behavior.
We’re all in this journey together and it’s so much more fun when we support each other instead of being judgmental. I say that we aim towards being money smart, not money snobs. 😉
Have you ever had experiences with someone who’s a money snob?