Friday, July 25, 2008

The worst financial advice I ever gave

I have a confession to make.

I have a blogging man-crush on Big Cajun Man. When I started thinking about creating my own personal finance blog, his was the first site I found while investigating the niche of personal finance blogs with a Canadian focus. Reading his blog (and its companion site) really inspired me to find my own voice on the internet, and he was one of the first bloggers to add me to his blogroll. I'll always think of him as a sort of big-blog-brother.

(On a side note, I believe the above paragraph holds the world record for most occurrences of the word "blog")

So when he e-mailed me with a challenge to post the worst piece of financial advice I've ever given, I was excited to get on board. I immediately started racking my brain for that one disastrous piece of advice that I've inflicted on a friend or loved one. Surely there was a shining example that would stand out as a beacon to all other bad advice.

It wasn't as easy as I thought. It turns out that I haven't given a lot of financial advice (good or bad) in my day. I'm sure I've hinted and nudged from time to time, but rarely in the form of active or formal advice. I'm quite new to this personal finance thing, and haven't had the opportunity or confidence to dole out a lot of financial wisdom. Fortunately for me (and my friends), this means I haven't created disasters in many financial lives.

Except my own.

I've written before about my financial fall from grace, and a major theme of this blog is my climb out of the financial hole I've dug for myself. Well, I couldn't have got to where I was a year ago without lots of lousy advice from yours truly. Here are a few of the gems I've come up with over the years:
  • "You can afford it." - Ah, the old standby. Close cousin of "It's only $20", "You'll get paid on Thursday" and "The sale ends tomorrow!", this one alone must account for a third of my revolving debt. Small moves add up and make a huge difference over time; it's up to me which direction I want them to take me.

  • "Lots of people are in debt; it's normal." - The sad thing about this one is that it's not untrue. Still, justifying my situation to myself in this way really showed a lack of maturity and ambition. Now that I've set a goal to get out of debt, I feel like I'm expecting more of myself, and that encourages me to rise to the task.

  • "You deserve it." - Yes, I've also consistently fallen into the entitlement trap. Why shouldn't I drive a brand new car? Of course I should buy the latest season of The Simpsons! What do you mean, I shouldn't go out for dinner again? I can't say I've put this completely behind me, but I have developed some patience and learned to set priorities.
There you have it: the worst financial advice I've given myself over the years, and the lessons I've learned from it.

What's the worst financial advice you've ever given?

1 comment:

Big Cajun Man said...

Excellent post.

Look for my "Carnival of the Catastrophic" next Friday.

Keep blogging, you are doing great!