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?
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
- 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?
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.