Quite often, in the personal finance sphere, there are a lot of intelligent posts and discussions ongoing. So much is written about making, saving, and investing money. There is also quite a bit of discussion on avoiding debt. Clearly, a lot of bloggers get the basics of money management, and love to share these concepts with everyone.
The thing is, when reading a number of such blogs, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that most people think this way. As in, the idea that most people make reasonably intelligent decisions with money, and have a solid understanding of both what to do and what not to do.
I don’t think this is the case, and it took a non-personal finance situation to remind me of this reality.
Recently, it has been incredibly cold here in Chicago. Schools were closed for two days as some of the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced descended upon this part of the country. The “polar vortex”, as it has been called, has seen temperatures go down to 15 below zero with wind chills past 40 below zero. This just days after we had a multi-day snow event that brought over 20 inches of snow to some parts of the area.
We’ve had Siberian-like weather here. Clearly, not the weather you want to venture out in.
Nevertheless, there are some people that just don’t seem to be fazed.
On Sunday, a day before the extreme cold hit, I was at a local grocery store getting food. Understandably, the store was completely packed, even though the weather on that day was less than ideal (snow, 10 degrees). It was going to get worse, we all knew it, and there was this feeling that the end of the world was coming. Not really, but this weather was no joke, and people are smart enough to prepare.
Except a few people at the store. They showed up wearing hooded sweatshirts and jeans. This in 10 degree weather. There was one guy who showed up in a short sleeved shirt and shorts. Yes, in 10 degree (and dropping fast) temperatures with tons of snow on the ground, the guy wore shorts to the grocery store.
Wouldn’t it be common sense to realize that this is dangerous? Wouldn’t it simply be uncomfortable?
Of course, but that didn’t stop that guy. Nor did it stop the others visiting the store without a heavy coat, hat, gloves, etc. Why?
Well, I’m not about to analyze why.
What I do know is that it served as another example that there are people out there who might otherwise be intelligent, nice people – but they simply want to do what it is they want to do. All the common sense in the world won’t be enough to get these people to do the sensible thing and bundle up to avoid getting sick.
Relating this to personal finance, it tells me that there are clearly too many people that might be well-meaning, but make similarly brainless choices with money. Taking on massive credit card debt because they “want” something, buying a “dream home” they can’t afford, or any number of moves. People make them every day.
In other words, if people can be cray cray enough to freeze in 10 degree weather, they can be cray cray enough to make really bad financial decisions. We just don’t encounter too many of them on personal finance blogs.
Why does this resonate with me?
Well, as a personal finance blogger, it’s another reminder that there are people that could really be helped by reading about how to manage money and plan their financial future. There is value to these posts, because they can help people. Validation of our efforts! Clearly, there are people that can use the help.
Also, if you’re not a blogger but currently doing a good job with your own finances, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing something that many other bright people can’t bring themselves to do.
Like wearing a coat and long pants in 10 degree weather 🙂
My Questions for You
Do you ever stop to think how personal finance basics can be a total mystery to some people?
Why do you think it is that some folks reject common sense? Is it simply lack of knowledge, defiance, or both?
What do you think is a good way to get someone aligned with good money management practices, if they don’t currently practice them?