As someone who writes a lot about money, and whose circle social is made up of fellow money nerds, I’ve read my fair share of content on personal finance. And despite the scads of existing PF blogs, there are a lot of conversations we could be having to help others but just aren’t. I’m not talking just about mere gaps, but massive, glaring holes.
Just toss a rock in any direction in the blogosphere and you’ll come across scores of stories on the following: couples who retired at 30 and are full-time globetrotters, the real estate guru who nets a robust stream of passive income from housing rentals, or the 25-year-old who crushed $100,000 of student debt in a mere few years.
And while I enjoy reading these stories (*raise hand* I write them myself), what about the single mother who is holding down two full-time jobs and raising teens? Or 20-somethings who, no matter their efforts, are living hand to mouth? Or those who are outright down and out, living on government assistance, and can’t really relate to the advice that permeates the internet? Where is the money advice for them?
Here’s why I don’t think we’ve having these kinds of conversations:
Most people are more inclined to share their successes than their tales of woes. Getting laid off from a job or being knee-deep in thousands of dollars of debt isn’t really Facebook-worthy stuff. And while these stories of financial success are inspirational, they can also invoke deep feelings of envy and “compare and despair.” It takes a lot for someone to get real. To be authentic and bare your soul on the Interwebs takes serious guts.
To be fair, I have seen a handful of “my biggest failures” type posts, and I give a big nod to fellow female writers such as Emma Thompson of Single Wealthy Mommy, Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt, and F**k Off Fund-er Paulette Perhach, but there could definitely be more discussion.
And while these stories do inspire and provide valuable insights on how others could achieve the same, what about real talk for everyday folks who are having a terrible time with their finances?
A Lot of Content is Geared for Specific Types of People.
While the information provided by a lot of company blogs is indeed well-researched and valuable, it’s usually linked to a service or product catering to a certain demographic. Most of the time it’s for those who fall within a certain income level, or at a specific stage at their life, because those are the ones who can purchase the said product or service.
In order for this advice to be even remotely applicable to you, you need to be at a certain place in your life. For instance, you need to be raking in at least $80,000 a year, have some money squirreled away, and be on the success track, so to speak. It’s like having a certain BMI before you can join a gym.
I’m not saying that companies aren’t intentionally ignoring people who need the most help with their finances. It’s just that for their content to serve a purpose, it needs to cater to the people who are at a stage in their life and can afford to purchase the company’s services.
That being said, it leaves a fair number of people whose money situations aren’t being addressed. The sobering truth is that swaths of the population just can’t relate to most of this advice, and may feel alienated. Save 20 percent of my income each month? You can’t be serious. Save $30,000 by the time you’re 35? Really? What about people who live on government assistance? How can they budget, and save for the future?
So…What Can Be Done?
Be the brave one. Step up and face your fears of being vulnerable. Be honest about your money woes, about how you’re afraid of being a penniless lady in your old age. Or have gobs of debt, and not really making much headway on it. Yes, it’s hard and there’s a chance you may be judged. But on the flip side, what if you help spark a meaningful discussion that could help others be open about talking about money?
It you blog on Medium or create content, write more to share these stories or find people who are open to doing so. This is something I’ve been working toward, but, full disclosure, I get busy with work. Like many, I’m constantly trying to juggle my work with my passion projects. Sharing more personal money stories will expand the conversation, let others know it’s okay, and offer advice for those who really could use some sound money advice.
As you can see, there are several reasons why I think we’ve not having the conversations about money we could be having. By being aware of this and being open ourselves, we can help others do the same.