Personal finance is a world filled with ideas and opinions that are in conflict with one another–many take the form of bad financial tips. Like the U.N, except without those silly Spaniards. While all sides to all personal finance issues generally have their merit, even those encouraging people to spend freely and take on as much debt as they like. After all, that is why we have personal bankruptcy laws in the country, right?
Idiocy aside, sometimes well-meaning financial tips (at least in my opinion) gets pushed to the outer limits of rationality. When I come across such advice I generally take note and list add it to my “A Few Ridiculous Financial Tips”. All of the advice to come is not my own. I present the advice and basic rational, and then my feelings on it. Please note that all of the advice below would benefit you financially; this is indisputable. What the authors of such advice are missing is how alienating, cheap (not thrifty), and time consuming some of the advice and rational can at times be. Put bluntly: the authors of these tips are overly prescriptive, general, and specific making them bad financial tips. On to the ridiculous financial tips!
Ridiculous Financial Tips
Next time someone brings you a bottle of expensive whine as a gift, sell it and replace it with cheaper whine. Why? Because people can’t tell the difference between expensive and cheap whines and the industry is largely a scam. While I agree that a lot of whine tastes similar, I know many people with more complex pallets than mine who would slap me for writing that. Good thing I am bigger than they are. Regardless, that is not why this gem of a tip is ridiculous: it’s because the author is advising you to sell the wine you received as a gift. What does he imagine people doing? Going to the nearest liquor store and bartering a trade? Selling it to a friend on the condition they don’t rat them out to the givers of the wine? Drink the damn wine, enjoy it as a treat you didn’t pay for and then go back to your cheap wine, if that is what you drink. Selling it misses the whole point of a gift in the first place—which is that people who care about you were giving you something they want you to enjoy. With bad financial tips like this, I bet this guy spends Christmas alone.
Take up hobbies that do not cost much and are not materialistic, like gardening. The logic being that a less expensive hobby removes a large source of spending from your life. Generally I can get on board with this one with one huge caveat: if the hobby makes you incredibly happy, the trick is to figure out a way to partake in this hobby without sacrificing your financial well-being. The trick is to choose what areas of life you will spend on, and then cut ruthlessly everywhere else. I am a participant in an extremely expensive sport: snowboarding. While participating in snowboarding costs me nearly $4000 annually, it also makes me happier than anything else on the planet, fiancé included. I will not, and you should not, sacrifice any activity that makes you incredibly happy on financial grounds, assuming you can partake responsibly. If I ever take up gardening in place of snowboarding, I better be the Godfather, and I better be Marlon Brando. Ridiculous financial tip.
Buy used or cheap clothes, because expensive clothes do not always translate into better quality. Self-explanatory, and fairly reasonable financial tip—but used clothes? Dude, really? I have shopped at a thrift shop or two, but I don’t make a habit out of it. With an incredibly limited, random selection it may take several visits to compile an outfit fit for public display, especially for work. So to save some money, vs. say, going to a Marshals, TJ Max, or Bobs, you may have to spend far more time hunting for used clothes alongside people paying with food stamps. Obnoxious comment as that was, sometimes it’s worth paying a little more to save a lot of time, and honestly, probably look better too. Super bad financial tip.
Stop watching TV. The author states that most shows promote consumerism, which is why he doesn’t own a TV. This guy must be super popular with the ladies (“why don’t you swing on over and we can read a book…”). I guess he also must be including shows like Mad Men, which is literally about consumerism. This statement deeply bothers me, because the author is displaying such a large lack of understanding of the cultural value of TV and that is what makes this a bad financial tip. TV has displayed for the masses a changing world, and as a result has expedited the changing of the world. It has fascinated and motivated some of the greatest artists and entertainers the world has ever seen: Carson, Scorsese, Chaplin, Warhol, Ford and Coppola to name a few. I firmly believe, and hope you would agree, that the world would be a less enjoyable place without the fruits of their labor. Just because Killer Karaoke and The Real Housewives of Whore Island attain decent ratings and promote an irresponsible, careless or ignorant lifestyle doesn’t mean one should shun all of TV, but of course this is a personal choice I am harping on simply because it doesn’t meet my personal cultural values.
What do you think about these financial tips? Have you ever received any ridiculous financial tips?
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 Of course, we are all responsible for defining our own version of Enoughness. Should you agree with any of the listed “ridiculous” tips then have at it. To further note, I will never reveal the ridiculous piece of financial advice’s author; they know who they are…