Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other’s Finances

Why You Shouldn't Care About Other's Finances

It’s Black Friday as I type this, and most of the USA is out shopping, including me. A few others are opting not to shop at all, and that’s fine, I totally respect that. However, I just got to thinking… in this personal finance world, have we become too voyeuristic?

Why do People Care About Other’s Finances?

As personal finance gets more mainstream and other people start retiring early, we become fascinated with certain people (bloggers, vloggers, or PF ‘celebrities’). Some publicly show how much they are earning online or through their various businesses, some posted how they managed to retire early and how they’re doing it.

Have we become too voyeuristic about other people’s money? Have we become too judgmental about what other people decide what they want to do (or not to do) with their money?

Why We Should Not Care What Other People Do

Why do people like watching the Kardashians? Because they show a certain ‘drama’ in their lives and they show how they live luxuriously. But technically, how do they make their money? By getting followers and people watching them and there goes a full on cycle.

Do you get a certain thrill when you see a story about someone retiring early? It’s inspiring, right? Do you click through a lot of Business Insider articles about somebody paying off their debt early? Yes, because it is also quite interesting. Do you read a lot of the income reports that some bloggers put out? Yes, of course. It’s a call to action!

However, I think the PF world is becoming too judgmental. More and more people are judging other people for their money decisions. I’ve seen online discussions go something like this:

Person 1: “Oh, I decided to buy a $2,000 computer, and a $1,000 drone, and a $1,000 DSLR”

Person 2: “What are you doing? You should save that money and invest it instead!”

Me: So what if they bought over $4,000 in gadgets? What if they need it for their business or they’re starting their own business? Or what if they’re pursuing a new passion and seeing how it works out? As long as they can afford it then why do you care about other people’s business?

Preparing to eat at Serendipity III
Preparing to eat at Serendipity III

Hey Big Spender

Shopping. Oh, shopping. People abhor it, people love it. We even made an unofficial holiday out of it called Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Of course, not everyone loves Black Friday and some even avoid it out of principle (“I’ll show those wasteful spenders by not buying this new toaster for $5 that’s usually $30!  Because I have standards!”)

I personally bought a fair amount of things this Black Friday and I’m going to list them below. Most of items I bought were either free or cheap, thanks to the power of rebates. After rebates (some online, some mail-in), I just paid taxes for the following:

  • 2 XBox 360s (Completely free because I used trade in credit for one, the other one, I did pay tax for)
  • 2 Long Sleeved Shirts
  • A Slow Cooker
  • An Olaf stuffed toy
  • 2 Tote Bags
  • 4 Crystal Glasses
  • 12 Tall Glasses
  • Cereal
  • 2 packets of baby wipes
  • An $8 Toaster Oven
  • $8 Rice Cooker
  • $2.50 underwear from Victoria’s Secret
  • 2 Ralph Lauren pillows




And the following heavily discounted items:

  • A Bath and Body Works Tote Bag with a candle (that lasts us forever and smells so freaking good), plus body lotions/sprays, and the like.
  • Video Games (3 for the XBox 360, 1 for the Wii, a couple for the PlayStation and 1 for the Switch)
  • 2 tubes of toothpaste
  • 4 tubs of laundry detergent
  • Feminine products

Not to mention, I get 5x the points for using the Chase Freedom on Department Stores on every purchase, and cash back + a bit of a spread when I also bought gift cards to resell.

Well, Black Friday just ended. Wait, we still have Cyber Monday! I’ve only gotten started!

Does that mean I’m a hoarder? No. Am I considered a shopaholic? Should I just stop shopping altogether? Hell no! I am just being smart about my money and buying things that we need this one time of the year for more savings (or even make money off it).

Again, if you think of the Happiness Fund, as long as you have money that you can set aside for your discretionary spending, then you shouldn’t really mind as much about your money, right?

Remember: YOU ARE UNIQUE. Ever person’s situation is different. Just because some method worked for a blogger or your cousin, or a distant person you just met or came across on the interwebs doesn’t mean that same method will work the same for you.




Let’s All Stop Being Judgmental

As Paula Pant always mentions in her blog, “You can afford anything, but not everything.” Not everyone wants to NOT spend money in order to reach Financial Independence early. Some people may want to be Financially Independent, but want to do it their own way.

Another example: us. We’re gamers, we’re travelers, and I do admit, I do shop. These hobbies cost us a bit of money. And don’t tell us that you should find hobbies that are free or cost little money. Don’t tell us that video games as a hobby is not worth your time. I would call BS on that.

Video gaming is actually one of the more profitable hobbies there is if you know what you’re doing. I won’t delve into how we’re actually profiting from video games here, but if you are in the know, you can definitely make money off it as well as enjoy it.

Shopping is also a profitable hobby if you know what to buy and sell. Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean you have the right to judge other people’s businesses on why they decide to spend their money.

If I bought a $100 Coach purse and posted it on this blog, other people may start to shake their head with disapproval, but you probably don’t know that I flipped it for $150, and made $50 in the process.

So let’s all just stop being judgmental about what other people do with their money, OK? You may not know what’s happening behind the scenes, and besides, don’t you have much better things to do than worry about what other people do? More productive things, perhaps?

Posing with the Harrds Bear at the Harrods Store
Posing with the Harrds Bear at the Harrods Store

What if you follow a certain philosophy?

What if you are a fervent Mustachian, or follow another blogger’s teachings? Just because you took that other blogger’s teachings to heart doesn’t mean you should look down at another person’s financial decisions.

Did you not make financial mistakes once upon a time and are working towards correcting them?

Let’s say your neighbor just bought a Maserati? Are you going to start preaching to them? Don’t post about your neighbor’s Maserati on a forum and say that he’s stupid for buying the car. That’s a little trollish, quite frankly.  If you start judging your closest friends’ decisions, then shouldn’t you just look for other friends who are on the same page as you?

You’re not judging J.Money for his collection of coins, are you? You’re not judging the way Paula travels the world, and buys real estate, and you’re definitely not judging Go Curry Cracker‘s travels and the fact that he buys stuff when he travels and that he spent more last year as compared to his other years.

You also didn’t judge Mr Money Mustache for buying a brand new Nissan Leaf, nor the Wealthy Accountant‘s book buying. You didn’t mind that people spend over $500 just to go to FinCon. You also don’t mind that behind the scenes, other people spend thousands of dollars buying courses. You just go with it and move on.

Oh, and of course you shouldn’t judge travel hackers if they have multiple credit cards. It’s our way of earning more points to travel the world. And no, we pay for the balances in full, and we actually make money off it. We’ve heard that we should follow Dave Ramsey by not having credit cards. For some people, that works.  But it’s not a philosophy that works for everyone.  In the US, not utilizing credit cards for travel hacking and other things is just leaving money on the table.

Which is exactly my point: you should NOT care too much about other people’s finances. Don’t moan about people spending on Facebook Groups, forums, or the like. Don’t judge people having 20+ credit cards and saying it’s going to lower their credit scores. You probably don’t know half of what’s happening behind the scenes with these people and that they’re actually silently making more money than you because of what they buy.

Anyway, my rant is over, but feel free to post comments below should you wish to join in or tell me off.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Brandon Carey

    Yes! People seem to forget that personal finance is PERSONAL!! We each place different value on different things and have different goals we are attempting to reach. Do not judge others by your standards of frivolous spending. Great article!

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  2. Mrs. Adventure Rich

    Agreed!!! The time, effort and emotion that goes into judging (and oftentimes, the subsequent jealousy or pity) is all for what? Does it help anything? Does it make my life better? Nope! Great reminder 🙂

  3. lyn

    Totally agree, I try to flip whenever I can and I don’t post the numbers of income I got from it – only my expenses! Every dollar I spend has it’s purpose and I guess that matters most in PF.

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  4. Wealthy Doc

    Good advice.
    I just wish I could follow it. I find myself judging others and comparing myself to others all the time 🙁
    I never realized how tall the Harrod Bear is! 🙂

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      Ruby Escalona

      I wrote this post because I got tired of comparing myself to others too, so it was time for us to change our mindset into a more inward looking one than an outward looking one. We feel worse when we see other people retire super early as compared to us, but again, it all depends on the choices you make. What works for one person does not work for us (we find that most of the bloggers methods do not work for us per se) – so we brainstorm and try out things that work for us.

      The Harrods Bear was tall! That’s why I asked my husband to hastily take a photo as we were making our way to our gate in the airport lol

  5. Dave

    Unless they are paying our bills, it is not our business. We are all on our own journey. We all have different incomes, spending, and saving habits. We also have different financial goals. I have found that it is much better to focus on my own finances and let other people live how they want to live

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  6. The Physician Philosopher

    It was a good rant, though!

    I call this intentional spending, and it is a way to achieve what I call the moderately frugal life. Our culture is so bad with money that the personal finance community swung the pendulum to total frugality, no matter the cost! I think that once a reasonable person has “seen the light” and realizes that finances need to be intentional, you need to put away 20-30% of your income, etc… it is then okay to live a little as long as it is within a reasonable budget that still allows you to achieve your personal financial goals.

    My big “no-no” is a car. I get a lot of grief about it from the personal finance community. But I am not a big traveler. We don’t eat at a lot of fancy restaurants. And I don’t go shopping a whole lot. My car and golf are my two items that I pay for out of my “happiness fund.”

    Good post. I think you are spot on! Though, I will readily admit that I am okay with some accountability that is meant in a good spirit!

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      Ruby Escalona

      Yes, people don’t see the other side of the frugality equation where instead of being miserly, you spend consciously on things that you love and want to enjoy in life! We actually sock away 55% of our earnings (on track to be at 60% or maybe more this year) to invest on potential businesses, and other side hustles and investments. It’s not just about savings, it’s also about earning more.

      We have two cars right now (booo, we used to be a one car household), and we only eat out now whenever we travel. Travel is a big part of our life, and for other FI folks, travel is definitely not a part of their life, and we are totally cool with that too – as we all have different passions in life (another post I will tackle on in the future :D)

  7. Evan

    Great post. I really needed this reminder. Recently I was reflecting on a comment I have made often and have been comparing to personal finance. As I am not personally religious, I have often commented to very religious folks who would like to recruit followers “I don’t care what you believe in, I am happy you are happy, but please don’t preach it to me or tell me I am a bad person for not following.” The more I align myself with FI and are passionate on the subject, I am falling in the same trap and doing what I asked others not to do to me. I find myself pushing this lifestyle, and getting frustrated at people I care about for what I deem mindless spending.

    With 15 years Investing experience, a CPA, Finance Degree, 100+ PF/Investing books under my belt, work experience, etc. etc. etc. In all accounts, I am an expert on the subject. But so is a seasoned pastor/preacher/priest but do I want to listen to their sermon? No.

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to continue to make progress living my life how I want to design it, and not judge others for their decisions. If the day arises they come to me for advice, I will take the time to discuss it with them and help them in any way I can.

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      Ruby Escalona

      Yes! Thank you! We can point other people in the ‘right’ direction and help them find their way if they get lost in the forest but how they make their way to the end is all up to them. Some people prefer to take the short road and blast through the forest with their machete, while others just want to leisurely make their way to the end, doing plenty of stops as they embrace what’s currently in front of them and finding interesting things they come across.

      Sorry for the hiking analogy, we are those hikers who actually stop a lot – mostly because of me – I stop and smell the flowers, look at the animals, and the plants,w hereas there’s other people who just want to finish their hike quickly. We all reach the end eventually!

  8. the Budget Epicurean

    An excellent and succinct way to tell everyone to “mind yo’ own business”! Thanks for the reminder. I am definitely guilty of getting a little too judgy-pants sometimes, since shopaholism runs in my family. I don’t want to get sucked in and make the same mistakes as I’ve seen financially. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who enjoys shopping as a hobby or past time is financially dissolute.

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      Ruby Escalona

      Believe it or not, I too was a shopaholic until I snapped out of it in early 2006! Thank goodness my shopaholic self only lasted a few months, and that point of my life led me to where I am right now! If it wasn’t for my shopaholic self, I wouldn’t have read all the wonderful books that had taught me how to be more frugal and become financially independent.

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