If You Don’t Think Like Me You Are An Idiot

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Catchy title, huh?

I thought it might catch your eye, and that’s a good thing.

But, in this case, it is simply that–a headline aimed at getting attention.

You see, those aren’t my words exactly.

It’s a disturbing trend I’ve noticed lately.

It is the feeling that many writers and bloggers have left me with recently.

One which extends to the comments blogs and social media posts, too.

That’s what inspired my choice of words.

You see, there are many blogs and articles dedicated to frugal living.

And many also promote the cash-only lifestyle.

More still are focusing on FI/RE.

There are also plenty that will tell you what to do with your own money!

It seems that many of the messages regarding these lifestyle choices are being interpreted (by me at least) as if each is the be-all-end-all of personal finances.

Like they are how all people should behave when it comes to money.

Kind of how religious people believe theirs is the only “right” one.

Or how in politics, you toe the “party line” whereby everything that comes from your party is the correct thing and anything else is wrong and must be done away with.

It often feels like authors and commentators are saying something to the effect of “This is what works for me, and it’s what I believe in, so you should too, or else you’re an idiot”.

Now I totally get that some people like to stir the proverbial pot and create drama in order to get attention or simply to make it easier for a conversation or debate to start.

That’s not what I’m getting at here.

I’m specifically talking about people who live a certain way or believe in a certain concept and feel that anyone who does anything different is wrong.

I’m talking about people who will never concede any point that goes against this way of living or concept no matter how valid or beneficial it may be.

Anyone who has, or will read my blog in the future can see that I am not a part of either of the aforementioned camps.

In fact, I do tend to take a hard-line stance on certain subjects such as personal accountability and the benefits of credit, but never have I taken shots at anyone simply because their views differ from my own.

I prefer to take a more objective approach and kindly disagree while providing my reasons.

I prefer to enlighten and inform, letting people choose for themselves how to best take on their finances in ways that suit them.

A perfect example would be my post entitled Credit Is Not the Enemy, You Are! in which I argue the benefits of using credit as a tool.

I do not even once belittle or denigrate those who choose to live without credit, while still enforcing my point that those who misuse it have no one to blame but themselves.

It would be very easy, after all, to take shots at people.

I guess it is my background in accounting and financial advising that allows me to understand that being constructive with criticism is more useful than flat-out dismissing someone else’s viewpoints even if they conflict with my own.

I prefer to educate others on different matters rather than force my views upon them.

Maybe it is because many other bloggers are not in the field in which they write about, that they do not see their writings as preaching their own personal gospel on financial matters.

Or, perhaps like religion or politics, they feel so strongly about something that works for them and believe in, they cannot see any other viewpoint objectively.

Financial advice isn’t one-size-fits-all, which more closely matches the message that I am trying to convey here.

Financial advice is not something that can be applied to all people in all situations.

What works for one person or family may or may not work for another, even if the situations appear similar.

Everyone has to decide what works best for them, and although it may go against what another feels is right, should not be shot down on the simple basis of ideological differences.

Granted, one may have a very compelling case for disagreeing, but without backing it up intellectually and thoughtfully, such an argument can be interpreted as being a putdown or an attack.

There are times when tough love and harsh words are more poignant, like when someone is repeatedly making the same choices that negatively impact them, but when speaking to masses of readers in a general sense there is no way that spewing regurgitated advice and theories will be of any benefit.

There are two people whose blogs I do reading very much because they are able to strike an accord and see things from differing standpoints.

J.D. Roth (once again) of Get Rich Slowly  specifically states this point in an addendum to a guest post entitled Three Reasons Cash is King, as he writes:

I know that GRS readers are divided between the “cash only” and the “wise use of credit” camps. I believe both have their merits. Though I’ve elected to join the “wise use of credit” folks, I support those who opt for a cash-only lifestyle.

J.D. Roth

NCN from No Credit Needed has similar remarks in a post titled Top 10 Ways To Save Money – Number 3 – Avoid Paying Credit Card Interest where he writes:

Now, there are those who will reject my idea of paying cash and they will extol the virtues of credit cards, with low interest rates, and the power of using other people’s money. Hey, I’m cool. If others want to borrow money, that’s fine by me; I am very open to the idea that I am wrong, and I know that many of my personal finance blogging brothers and sisters love their credit cards, but I’m just not going to use them.

If only everyone could be so open-minded to varying views on any number of subjects, it would be much easier to read many of the blogs that are out there for the world to discover.

It will also give much more credibility to those who are attempting to take on an expert or leadership role for people to see that you can consider differing viewpoints yet still be able to make a case for why you feel a certain way in a more eloquent and well-presented manner.

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  1. I hear you.  When it comes to frugality, I consider it a buffet of ideas.  Choose those that work for your & don’t worry about those who choose differently.  Perhaps those who are more judgemental are thinking of people they know who frustrate them with their choices.  If you have a family member who is constantly asking to borrow money which they waste, you are going to have more emotions invested in others’ choices. 

    1. That is a very frustrating situation, Maggie. I just don’t think there is any reason to take that kind of attitude especially when you write for a magazine, news outlet or blog. I guess some people just can’t get over their experiences in certain situations and simply be open to the idea that two people can have different experiences in similar scenarios.

  2. My financial situation has changed constantly throughout my life so I think that makes me more understanding to different people’s situations.  But what I don’t have sympathy for are people who go deep into debt buying frivolous things that they can’t afford, who then whine that they can’t get ahead.  It takes discipline to save and get ahead.  Having accounting knowledge is priceless imo and opens so many doors.  You made a great decision going into accounting and financial advising!

    1. I don’t know how great that decision was seeing how there is a lot of that same frustration you mentioned in my work life, Sydney. I see the same people make the same choices even after I warn them of the negative impact it will make on their finances and businesses. I mean how many times can I tell someone they have to pay payroll taxes by a certain day or they will face repercussions (if they pay them at all!).

  3. I agree DV, PF is not a one size fits all recipe.  What works for some people does not work for others.  I don’t like it when articles have the “this is the only way to do things” tone.

    1. I don’t like that either, Mary. When people are closed to the ideas that there may be other, even better ways to approach something it really gets under my skin. And especially so when the alternatives are obvious and numerous.

    1. Sometimes I feel like we a minority with that view. Many people seem to be scared of it, I don’t know if it’s just because they didn’t understand how to use it and got in trouble or if they were just taught to despise it. Whatever the reason I think they’re missing out on a very valuable tool.