The most important money rules never change, but there’s much to be said about doing what works for you. Ultimately, you’re in charge of your financial situation, and that means making decisions based on what’s important to you, not what matters to someone else.
Photo by Betsssssy.
For example, I once moved back home to pay off my student loan. Some would call that lazy and codependent — taking the easy way out. Maybe you’re super frugal with your spending. Some would say you’re cheap and short-sighted. People love to criticise the financial decisions of others. Financial planner and author Carl Richards explains how dangerous it can be to let this criticism get to you:
This can cause all sorts of trouble in our financial lives. Instead of making financial decisions based on what will be best for us, we start doing things based on what others will think. If we’re not clear about who we think we are, our own values and our own goals, then we end up spending in ways that are meant to keep up with the Joneses.
We end up trying to live other people’s financial lives…The goal is to separate what we want from what everyone else wants.
It’s one thing to read advice and think, Oh wow! That makes so much sense — this is a much better alternative. But it’s another to follow advice simply because you feel shamed into doing so. Richards suggests taking some time to consider why, specifically, money is important to you. What personal goals can it help you reach? Once you’ve answered that question, the next step is to make sure your financial habits align with your goal.
Personal finance is exactly that: personal. There are some basic pillars of personal finance, sure. Beyond that, all you can do is soak in the advice, learn the basics, and make decisions that benefit you the most.
Richards has a lot more insight on this matter, so read his full article at the link below.
Learning to Let Go of Financial Peer Pressure [The New York Times]