We all know them: the people that op-out of financial responsibility under the guise of spirituality or holier-than-thou morality.
They don’t care about stocks and bonds or budgets and spreadsheets, they worry about more important things like how they feel when they look at the moon and whether humility or generosity is the greater virtue. They don’t worry about where their next paycheque is coming from, let alone where all their money is actually going.
They write posts like, “I will never be a well-behaved woman” and poems titled “Fuck Pensions“. If you bring up saving and debt, they dramatically roll their eyes and ask why bother with that when you can be out there, living life?!
But not caring about money is stupid.
I’m frustrated with the superiority complex of people who don’t give a shit about their finances, because not only are they expert self-saboteurs, they’re self-righteous about their idiocy.
As a Finance MBA that blogs about money for fun, I recognize that I fall to close the right hand of Satan when it comes to classifying minions of the evil financial underworld.
I like the stock market, I am motivated by large paycheques, and I think Atlas Shrugged was a really good book. If you ask them, I live a hollow life, one in which I struggle to extract meaning from my vapid existence of day-trading and conspicuous consumption.
But I know some things that they don’t.
If you feel blasé about money, it’s because you’ve never experienced what it’s like not to have enough
There is nothing more important in your life than financial security. Perhaps you’ve grown up in the lap of luxury and therefore haven’t actually experienced the stress of being legitimately broke. It has been my experience that only people with a lucrative safety net, like a generous bank of mom & dad, can really grab hold of the not-giving-a-fuck lifestyle and pretend that dollars don’t matter.
For the rest of us, they do.
You only have the luxury about pondering the meaning of life when you’re not wondering where your next meal is coming from or how you will keep a roof over your head. Let’s not pretend you’re an existential saint because you’re not going to purchase the Apple Watch.
The very fact that you have the luxury to make choices of where you spend your discretionary income means that you have money to spend. But most people have suffered through that terrifying moment at the grocery store where you’re not sure if your debit card will be declined, and we know better.
It legitimately shocks me how many people steeped in privilege are genuinely oblivious to the fact that the only reason they were able to pursue a life of leisurely self-exploration was because someone else has funded the real costs of their existence.
I never had a safety net when it came to money. No one is looking out for my financial security but me. No one paid for my education, no one was going to pay off my student loans, and no one is going to save for my retirement, except for me.
Realizing this might not seem like a glimmering jewel of self-actualization, but I’ve found most aspects of maturity are painfully anti-climatic. Welcome to adulthood.
You are not invincible, you are careless.
There is probably nothing more boring than insurance and taxes. Life insurance, disability insurance, income tax, property tax, and so on. Ponder these topics and you’ll be instantly lulled to sleep.
I don’t think anyone is going to pretend that setting up a will or filing your taxes is SUPER interesting, but surely no one believes that keeping your financial house in order is optional. More often than not, you need to do the boring paperwork. It’s either legally required and/or it will help your family in the instance of a tragedy.
I get it, you’re immune to bad karma because you eat organic and bow before your Buddha shrine at least four times each day, but everyone knows bad things can happen to good people. Just because you don’t need a safety net right now doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow.
It’s humbling to understand how much time and discipline it takes to build up an adequate emergency fund, and how quickly it can be wiped out by a single event. You can think tragedy and hardship will never touch you, but that is naiveté, not spiritual serenity.
Being paid well and doing meaningful work are not mutually exclusive.
I have what I consider to be an incredible job. Every day, I go to the office and help entrepreneurs build their businesses. I work directly with people bringing their passion to life, and often these new products and technologies help improve the lives of others.
My work is incredibly fulfilling. It’s also well paid.
Not all good deeds need to be altruistic. You can give back to the world while making a profit. In fact, that should be exactly what you try to do each and every day: make money while doing good.
We need to get away from interpreting a measly paycheque or living broke as something holy. It’s not. You can be a good person AND rich, just like you can be a terrible person and poor. Money is not a measure of moral worthiness, it is just money.
Investments are not exclusively for the rich.
It really doesn’t take a degree in finance to set up an investment portfolio that will grow your wealth. How much you want to learn about managing your money is up to you, but learning nothing is akin to refusing to learn how to read because you think literature is for boring people.
If you want a hands-off role when it comes to building your investments, simply choose a mutual fund or buy a small selection of index ETFs, and set it and forget it. You can’t tell me you’ve figured out the meaning of life but are not clever enough to set up an automatic bank transfer from your chequing account to your brokerage account that coincides with your paycheque.
At the end of the day, the stock market doesn’t need you to find it interesting or cool, because the stock market doesn’t actually care what you think about it. It will, however, give you a bigger bang for your buck regardless of your opinion. And I don’t care how spiritually enlightened you are, only a fool would say no to that.
If you want to see a marker of insecurity, it’s someone that claims “stocks are for people that get boners for money” because all that really says is “I don’t believe I am smart enough to learn new things”.
Money is fun, fascinating, and intellectual
Finance is an intricate science that’s as exciting to watch as a sports game. I study financial information with the same discipline I applied to get my BSc. in Chemistry. I love making predictions about the economic impact of various national and global events. I understand that placing bets on the direction of the markets isn’t for everyone, but don’t pretend it’s because you’re “above” that sort of thing.
Stock market indices don’t have to be your jam, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a valid hobby or career interest. I don’t really care for golf, but you don’t hear me singing about what a superior human being I am because I don’t want to hit 18 holes every weekend.
This is my freedom
If you think someone is chained to a desk serving a corporation, think again. They’re serving themselves. If someone is managing their money correctly, every dollar they earn is used for something they want, and for many of us that is financial independence.
I have multiple sources of income. I can work remotely. I am already set up for retirement. I’m not a sucker just because you can’t math. Like many people, every day I go to work, I’m building the life I want. This is not something I can do while having a soul-searching trek through the Amazon jungle.
I freaking love making money, and the only thing I love more is using that money to make even more money. There is nothing wrong with this.
There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes with being good with money, and this pride is not misplaced. It’s hard to get out of debt. It’s hard to diligently save a large amount of your paycheque. It’s hard to pay for your education, buy a house, pay for a car with cash, retire decades early. These are not small feats, and they should not be treated as such.
Covering your financial bases is boring, tedious, and hard work, but it’s completely necessary. Pretending like your debt doesn’t count or saving doesn’t matter, doesn’t hurt anyone except YOU. Good luck.