It’s Thursday, and you know what that means: time for another round of awesome personal finance articles hand-picked by ESI of Rockstar Finance!
I often think about how the advice we give here at TFD is never applicable to everyone. Sure, there are tenets of being good with money that most people (in our society) could use to help better their financial situation — simply spending less than you earn and not living on credit are good lessons that everyone should learn.
But what if you don’t earn enough to spend on basically anything? Or if you can’t even get a credit line in the first place because you’ve never had access to credit? Over 12 percent of Americans are living in poverty, and it’s not a problem that we can accurately attribute to individual responsibility. It’s a huge, systemic issue, and for people earning less than a livable wage, the last thing they need to hear is personal finance advice from people in completely different circumstances.
I hope everyone reads this article on how money advice is worthless when you’re poor, especially this passage about “poor person brain”:
I often ask myself: how come I’m working all the time, my body is breaking down, I’ve cut and tightened every way I can think of, and despite how much I’m sacrificing, I still can’t manage to make rent? It’s at this point that poor person brain blossoms: I’m still going to struggle whether or not I buy a bag of chips, so I might as well buy the chips. As Tirado puts it, “there’s no reason to put anything off for the long term if there is no long term that will be better than today.”
Buy the chips. Have you a good time, before your time is up. The immediate necessity for psychological survival negates the bogus narrative that you just have to work harder, and it’ll get better when you know it won’t.
The way I see it, being poor is like having cancer: You can’t bootstrap your way out of having cancer. You can seek medical assistance to fight the cancer (Medicaid). You can seek spiritual guidance to give you mental fortitude to power through the cancer (Jack In the Box two for $1 tacos, a manicure, seeing a movie). You can get surgery and radiation to remove the cancer (loans). But ultimately, you have still had cancer, there’s no guarantee it won’t come back, and your efforts to fight through it have permanently altered your genetic code and brain structure.
I know not everything we produce here at TFD can apply to everyone, but I want to shed light on these issues as much as we can. Be sure to read the article in full, as well as the rest of this week’s top picks.
1. A New Case for Unsubscribing from Nearly Everything – Cait Flanders
“The reason we struggle with information overload isn’t just because of how much there is; it’s also because of the stories we tell ourselves about the information that is available. The stories we tell ourselves about why we should subscribe. The stories we tell ourselves about why we should consume the content. The stories about what we will do with the information. The stories about how it will improve our lives — or who it will help us become.”
2. The Broken Windows of Personal Finance – Freedom is Groovy
“When I was growing up, there were a lot of broken financial windows in my family and community; that is, there were a lot of destructive financial behaviors that were socially acceptable because most adults either engaged in them or considered them relatively benign or unimportant.”
“Now that we’ve reached 100 millionaire interviews, let’s dig a bit deeper so readers can learn what millionaires have done to become wealthy, then decide which of those steps they’d like to apply to their own finances.”
4. Happiness Isn’t About Experiences Either – 1500 Days
“Your daily life is where you’re going to be doing most of your living, so be there. Look around. Smile at other humans. Listen to your children. Watch the sunset. Life is probably pretty great for you right now, even if you don’t realize it. It’s great to have things to look forward to, but don’t dwell on them. Instead, dwell in the now. The now is the only thing you can really depend on anyway, so why live elsewhere?”
“I’m just going to say it: All the financial advice out there tells us the only way to resolve our financial pressures is by following specific guidelines because all that advice is founded on a homogenized perspective that appeals predominantly to a shrinking middle class.”
“This post frames financial aspects of the ‘work vs. college’ decision in a new way by squaring off two powerhouses of wealth creation: (1) the time-tested college diploma; and (2) the oft-overlooked Roth account. Over a worker’s career, which path to riches packs the greatest pecuniary punch? Let’s fixate on the numbers and find out.”
7. The $1500 Rule For Car Buying – Mystery Money Man
“I often find myself in conversations with friends and colleagues who are trying to figure out how buy a car without it breaking their budget. Most fail miserably.
“There are so many decisions to make. New or used? How much should they spend? How will it be financed, through their bank, or through a dealership? If it’s a used vehicle, how old is too old? And so on, and so on.”
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