Thursday, December 29, 2005

Keep the Faith

The subject of personal finance fascinates me; however the rates, formulas, and diversification take a back seat to the mind-boggling habitual and psycological subjects in personal finance.

In a way, talking about money management is sort of like talking about pooping - for the most part nobody talks about it, and if you're having problems you're only going to share that information with those closest to you. People internalize their thoughts and strategies pertaining to money in a way that often leads to hilarity. Michelle Singletary is a financial columnist for the Washington Post, and her column regularly shows that common sense is all too uncommon.

Political corectness has crept way past race and sex issues. To continue with my theme of not-so-wonderful analogies, you can't be socially kosher and tell a big fat person "hey, you weigh about 300 pounds, do you really need to eat the whole pizza?". Similarly you can't tell a person who constantly blows money on rapidly depreciating items that this is the reason they are broke, and the reason they will continue to be broke in the future. When a person loses their job at a slowly sinking company you can't tell them that maybe they should have had a contingency plan.

If you find any entertainment value to these issues, I'd like to suggest a few absolutely wonderful resources:

  • The Millionaire Next Door - a highly entertaining work about the reality of the rich in America, you will be surprised by what the authors learned in their study

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad - through autobiographical means, the author explains a fascinatingly simple way to look at what makes a true asset.

  • Greed! - is greed always bad? This TV special from 1998 will blow your mind and leave you questioning what you believe.


Personal finance does NOT need to be relegated to a world of faith and voodoo. Shocker, we can actually use our minds, math, history, and - ok, I'll say it - empericism, when looking at our money. One bit of fatherly advice I don't think I'll be following is to manage finances by gut. Not that I think gut should be rejected, but I choose to manage with evidence and facts rather than blind faith. Just like remaining trim and fit, the best practices are so simple and obvious that we need to layer on the denial pretty thick to accept our foolish decisions.