If you’ve been a longtime reader of DMS, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t give a lot of advice around these parts. Sure, I make witty observations and find financial lessons in every day scenarios, and you can find stories aplenty, but as for hardcore, solid financial advice?
It’s pretty lacking.
Not doling out financial advice on a personal finance site probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. After all, if you’re not coming here for the humor and entertainment value, you’re probably here to learn a few things. I mean, if you look hard enough, you’ll find some nuggets of wisdom but overall, you won’t find a lot of traditional, evergreen advice.
Because I am a terrible financial role model and I don’t think anyone should replicate what I do. Also, if I give you advice on how to do something and I don’t do that myself, it makes me dishonest and I don’t like that feeling. So I opt out of giving lots of advice. It’s just better for everyone that way.
So what makes me such a bad financial role model? Let’s look at a few ways:
- I’ve discussed this before, but I can’t die. I am totally unprepared for it. I don’t have a will, burial plot, life insurance, medical directives…nothing. I know I need to get my shit together with this but talking about death is not something I like to do so I practice avoidance. And, considering the fact that I have a child, not having my act together is a really bad thing. My husband is aware of my wishes, and my little sister has been notified that we want her to be our daughter’s guardian in the event that both of us die, but other than that, I have nothing set up. So don’t follow my lead on this.
- I don’t use coupons. I know that as many people don’t use coupons as those who think that they are the only way to save money but I just can’t get behind them on a regular basis. Mainly, I think it’s because I’m lazy. I don’t care to take the time to browse coupon websites and blogs (especially not when they take time away from sites like Cracked and Buzzfeed), I don’t ever remember to buy the Sunday paper and, when I do have coupons, I leave them at home. Occasionally I’ll remember them, particularly if it’s a really good deal and I put the coupon directly into my wallet but overall, I’d rather just shop with a list, buy on sale, and substitute with generic when possible. And, speaking of generics…
- I scoff at people who think that all generics are the same as their name brand equivalent. And then I buy those name brands. While it is true in some instances, it is completely false in others. I have, in the interest of saving money, bought some generic products that have turned out to be horrendous. We’re talking so bad, they went into the trash. For those items, I’d rather pay the extra money (and—gasp—I don’t always buy them on sale or with a coupon) and have what I like and will use. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of money.
- I leased a car. There. I said it. I leased a car. I’m not going to justify, defend, or explain why. But I will say this: I don’t recommend it and I’ll never do it again but I can’t hide the fact that I did it.
- I spend money on going out to eat, books, music, makeup and other discretionary, frivolous items. And I even did it while I was in the midst of paying down my debt. I just couldn’t get behind the whole Dave Ramsey “I don’t want to see you in a restaurant unless you’re working in one” mindset. To me, that’s just a way to burn out and quickly fall back into old habits. I believe in moderation and small rewards, particularly if you’re doing something as difficult as eliminating debt. I also believe that you can treat yourself as long as you do so with a plan in mind and it doesn’t affect your other long-term goals.
- My savings accounts, and my retirement accounts, are appalling. So not only can I not die, I can’t retire either. I won’t give you exact figures (because I don’t know what they are) but I do know that they’re appalling. And kind of embarrassing.
- My budget is a mess. I have a budget. It’s just…lacking in implementation right now.
I could probably list about a dozen other ways that I am not qualified to give financial advice. But I’ll spare you the boredom and me the shame.
Although this isn’t the best place for advice, I hope that you, my beloved readers, still find value in what I write here. I think that learning happens in different ways and I hope that amidst the crazy stories, bizarre observations, and numerous mistakes, you gain some shred of knowledge.
Because if that happens, then I have accomplished what I intended.
One final, unrelated note: While I write because I have to (much in the way that some people run), with so many available choices, you don’t have read what I write. Yet you do. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing that (even if you read because you hate me and you need your daily dose of contempt)