Unfortunately in some circles, personal finance falls into the “do not openly discuss” category along with religion and politics. In most cases, you are not going to convert a Christian to Judaism in a 90 minute conversation. Just as you most likely will not turn someone blue when they’ve been voting red for 40 years. In my mind personal finance is fairly black and white. Who wouldn’t want to spend less than they earn, invest the difference, and not have to worry about money? Apparently this isn’t always the case. Personal finance, as it turns out, is as gray as any topic.
I have convinced some of my close friends and family members to pay down debt, max out IRAs and 401ks, and buy less house than they can afford. I try to present strong arguments for why these are good ideas and some take to them like fish in water. With other folks I can tell it won’t be their cup of tea and I transition to other topics. What’s tough is when you see friends and family, who in your eyes, could be doing better for themselves with a few small changes. A secure financial future is bound to make relationships stronger since many articles point to finances as a leading cause of divorce.
I am at somewhat of a loss about what to do in these situations. Of course you care about people and want the best for them, but for whatever reason they don’t see getting finances in order as a priority. I’m not going to lie, that’s a tough pill for me to swallow, even though I know they have the right to care about whatever they want. I’m sure others feel similar when they’d like to tell a family member to lay it easy on fast food and get some exercise so that they don’t further health complications and can live a long, fulfilled life. But it’s tough conversation to have.
Historically, I thought talking about personal finances more openly may lead to the topic being less taboo, but if so, it’s definitely a long, tough journey.
How should those with an affinity for personal finance approach this issue? Personally, I’m at the point where I’ll sometimes bring up the topic, and if others bite, great. If not, I’ll move on to other conversation topics. If others bring it up, I try to give them a feeling for my views on the subject without getting too preachy. If they are receptive, I dig a little deeper. If not, I move on.
While I understand there is no right answer for which religion to practice (if any), or which political party to associate yourself with (if any), I still have some work to do with understanding that setting yourself up financially is not a thing that everyone makes a priority.