That was the title of an email I got recently from a reader who thought I’d enjoy this post over on Houzz.com on how to build your housekeeping muscle. Here’s the rest of it:
I read an article recently that I really appreciated and thought you might like it too. It is actually focused on housekeeping issues, but it starts out with a story about people’s perceptions about personal finance, and then the steps she suggests for getting better at managing everyday home maintenance are really applicable to PF too.
It was a good wake up call for me: 1) I shouldn’t look down on people who aren’t great at managing their $ just because (I think) I am, 2) maybe it’s not such a moral failing to not be good at keeping my floors clean! Maybe a non-saver will never have as much in their 401k as they should, and maybe I will never have a spotless kitchen, but we can all make improvements! :-)
I thought this was great because whether we want to believe it or not, we DO judge others based on how we think they are with money. I try really REALLY hard not to, but it’s tough to stop the first impressions from hitting your brain when they’re completely out of your control ;) So instead I try and wipe them out after I think of them and try concentrating on something more productive. Like, as our reader mentions above, something that they probably ARE good at instead.
Let’s take my friend, Tom, for example. He doesn’t ever invest into his 401(k) plan but the crazy part is that he teaches people they should invest in their 401(ks) AS A JOB!! Like, that’s what he does 40 hours a week!! I cringe every time I think of that, haha… But the guy is AMAZING with other parts of his life instead. Like, with being almost obsessive about time management and working out. Never have I met someone who works so well on a schedule and can get so many things done, and on time.
Another example – my friend Angel (not his real name, but I’ve always liked it for a guy :)). Angel has never saved a penny of his earnings in the 8+ years since I’ve known him. There’s always a new BMW he wants, or a club he has to attend, or the latest electronic gizmo that’s about to change his life. Despite my constant hints that he needs to start saving at *some* point here, it goes through one ear and out the next. Because according to him “life’s short so you should enjoy it before you die.” True indeed, but WHAT IF YOU LIVE UNTIL 100??? ;) I’ve tried being better at this and just letting him do his thing without being a nagging friend, but it’s often times hard. The guy is incredible at cooking and always being there for you as a friend though. I’ve never met someone so willing to go out of their way to help another person in my life. Great with relationships, sucky with money!
So it’s definitely true what our reader mentions above – we’re all good at *something* and it doesn’t necessarily mean with money.
This also got me thinking of other *judgements* I come into generally during life too. Reactions to things like fancy cars, houses, jobs, etc. In fact, here – I’ll list some of them out along with my initial feelings, then add the justifications I usually think shortly after to give people the benefit of the doubt ;)
- Fancy cars -“SEXY! I want that!!!… If only I had the balls to pony up the cash like that dude did.”
- Fancy home – “Yuck. Just the *idea* of having to manage that thing would stress me out… I hope that person has a BIG family!”
- Fancy clothes – “Love it! Not going to lie. I can appreciate a well-dressed woman, or even man for that matter… They must need to do that for their job.”
- Fancy jewelry – “The blinger the better! But I couldn’t tell the difference between a fake diamond and a cubic zirconia, so it doesn’t impress me much (and this from a guy who paid hundreds of dollars for the earring currently in his ear!)… They probably got it as a gift.”
- Fancy job – “Good for them!… It takes a lot of hard work and focus to pull off becoming a high-paying lawyer, doctor, real estate mogul, etc, so I respect a gig like that…”
- Fancy electronics – “Meh. Waste of money… Hopefully they play with ’em all the time and thoroughly enjoy them!”
- Fancy food – “Double meh… they’re probably out celebrating a special event.”
And so on and so forth. I bet we come across half these items every single day actually. And again, they’re all judgements – just mainly on *things* this time over *people*, though of course it always comes back to them in the end too (thus my rationalization after feeling each of those ways ;)). I doubt I’m ever right 90% of the time, but a financial guy’s gotta hope for the best, right? And regardless, none of it really matters in the end anyways since it doesn’t affect US personally.(Though it IS good that we know ourselves well!)
Anyways, I’m rambling… The takeaway today – especially after celebrating the day of “thanks” giving! – is to keep an eye on those judgements and try to redirect your focus on the positive when possible. Especially those that directly concern you and your family/lifestyle/money. That’s really what’s important in our lives – all the rest is just noise.
Now have a happy rest of your holiday weekend, and tell your family Uncle J$ says hi! :)
Photo credit: maura_monahan