Not Always Either/Or. Sometimes It’s Both.

There’s an awful lot of divisiveness on the Internet on a range of topics these days.

And taking a controversial stand on something online often leads to more attention, thus perpetuating the echo chamber.

Is this getting worse?  Why is it so challenging to see the commonality rather than the differences?

The older I get, the more I realize it is possible to acknowledge two seemingly disparate thoughts at the same time.

Here’s a few examples, specifically related to personal finance:

  • While many people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps (or achieve FIRE), not everyone is fortunate enough to be in a situation to move up the socioeconomic ladder (or to retire early).
  • It’s possible to feel empathy for someone who is drowning in debt while at the same time celebrating the hard work and discipline that goes into paying it off.
  • It makes more logical sense to invest in the market rather than pay off a 4% mortgage, but there is a tremendous peace of mind for some people in being mortgage-free.
  • Some people are willing to work 80 hours a week to make more money and get to FI sooner, whereas others recognize that time is a finite resource and choose a slower route.
  • Pretty much everyone agrees an emergency fund is a great idea, but some feel better with a big pile of cash sitting in the bank.  Others might hate to lose out on market returns and choose a smaller e-fund with the option to leverage credit, home equity, or investments in time of need.
  • Work on that side hustle.  Turn it into a business if you want.  Or, spend your time working hard at your 9-to-5 if that’s where you’ll have the biggest payoff.
  • Common canon in the personal finance community says you should buy a used car but sometimes a new car might be the right choice.  (Side note: My first new car lasted me 13 years.  My second one is going strong at almost 5 years and I hope it lasts at least as long as my first one.)
  • Despite much evidence to the contrary, it’s not actually forbidden to have cable, if that’s your thing.
  • The 4% rule works for some while others might feel better with a 3% withdrawal rate.  Guess what?  I bet this depends on your risk tolerance…
  • Just because you haven’t been discriminated against when it comes to pay or promotions, that doesn’t mean that others haven’t.

The bottom line is that personal finance is personal.  It’s great to educate others, and to share your own experiences.  That’s what I love about this community.  But there’s not ONE TRUE WAY to go about being successful at this personal finance thing.

What personal finance canon have you seen that I didn’t include above?

9 thoughts on “Not Always Either/Or. Sometimes It’s Both.”

  1. 2 things i can’t stand: hypocrisy and proselytizing. there is no “one size fits all.” i love writing about investing in individual stocks to (hopefully) supercharge a portfolio. i swear i can feel the people with mouths agape at such blasphemy. i might go and buy a boat and write about it just to watch some heads explode. i have satellite tv and the nfl ticket and instead of hiking or some wholesome activity i watch football on sundays. here’s the thing though: i don’t recommend my path to anyone and i’m a generally nice and respectful person. oh, and new cars all the way and drive ’em until the wheels fall off.

    it’s a common belief that you should go to fin-con if you can. i wouldn’t go to orlando if you paid me and they charge money to go to that thing.

    • OH, that’s a good example! We do like to preach index funds in this community. But I like to hear about individual stocks, too.

  2. Love the reminder that personal finance is personal. I agree that the individual stocks v. index funds is a good example of how both approaches can work and it depends on the person. I also think this notion of everyone should start a business or at least a side hustle can also get too dogmatic (and I actually have a business and encourage people to try entrepreneurship, but I totally see why some don’t want to do it). Another overdone trope is how everyone should buy a home — no, sometimes renting is better (and I’m a real estate investor, so clearly I love to buy). Personal finance is indeed personal!

    • Agree on the side hustle! It’s great for a lot of people, but I’m not interested in having one at this moment in time. My day job and family are where I spend my time right now.

      Real estate is another great example. Homes are affordable in our area of the country, but that’s not true in a lot of places. And if I were to look at the ROI on my home specifically, it would be awful. I enjoy having a home of my own, but it definitely hasn’t been an “investment” for me.

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