So… I’m really frustrated.
Actually, I’m kinda ticked off.
I’m mad because people who are naturally decent with handling money want to act like personal finance is super easy.
All you gotta do is this, this, and this, and boom! You’re a millionaire.
But it just doesn’t work that way.
Let me back up a second…
I think there are some people who are naturally good at handling money. They just get it. Numbers make sense to them, they aren’t tempted to spend too much, they naturally save etc… To them, money is easy.
Then there’s everyone else.
The people who have the ability to learn how to handle money, they just naturally aren’t that good at it. And that’s not bad in and of itself. We’re all naturally good and bad at different things.
But the problem is that the people who teach about money want to act like it’s all super easy.
Obviously, it’s not that easy, and we need to stop pretending it is.
Knowing Is Easy, Doing Is Hard
I’ll give it to them that knowing how to manage money isn’t too hard. Basically, it’s just two main principles:
- Save more money than you spend
- Invest so that your money starts making money
That’s not hard to say and it isn’t hard to understand.
But actually doing this is extremely difficult.
It’s the same reason that knowing how to lose weight and actually losing weight are two completely different things. Losing weight has only 2 principles as well:
- Eat fewer calories than you burn
- Workout to burn more calories
It seems so simple, yet the obesity rate in America has more than doubled in the past 35 years.
Knowing what to do, and actually doing it are totally different.
Yet we want to pretend that it’s not.
Let’s look at a few different ways this plays out.
Paying Down Debt Is Difficult
Again, we all know how to pay debt off. Nobody out there feels like they’ve been given a magic bullet when a financial guru tells them to spend less than they make, and then use the extra cash to pay off their debt.
But actually following through with this is really hard.
The reality is that most people deep in debt don’t see a way out. They’ve got kids to feed, school to pay for, parents to help, and bills to pay. Often times, we find ourselves so deep in debt that we can’t even see a way out.
Living a little more frugally in order to pay an extra $75 at the end of the month just doesn’t seem to go very far. Half the time we can’t even seem to knock a dent in our debt.
After a while, our natural human instinct makes us ask, “what’s the point.”
And that’s the thing about debt, It isn’t just a number. It’s a powerful boulder that emotionally crushes its victim.
Debt is hard and we’ve got too many people acting like it’s not.
Saving Money Is Tough
This one goes hand in hand with the debt. But it’s a little different.
After you get out of debt, the next logical step is to start building up some savings. But this is much harder than it seems.
We’ve got friends, birthday gifts, nieces and nephews, pets, vacations, and all sorts of other things that offer immediate gratification.
Heck, I write about personal finance every single week, and even I have a really hard time actually saving money every month.
There’s always something that’s vying for our cash. And it’s not always even for us. As a 23-year-old dude, I can’t tell you the amount of money I’ve spent on weddings for my friends the past couple of years. It’s getting a bit ridiculous.
But money is emotional, and often times our emotions win.
Which means that most of us don’t end up saving as much as we’d like.
Investing Seems Complicated
If you’re able to get out of debt, and start saving, the next logical step is to start investing.
Luckily we live in the internet age and investing has become wayyyyy easier for the average joe than it was just 20 years ago.
But even still, it seems overwhelming.
When you’re fresh out of school and land your first “adult” job, the HR assistant hands you a booklet with all of the 401k options and your eyes literally glaze over.
You’ve never learned any of this stuff before, how should you know how much to invest, or much less what to invest in?
And that’s the problem.
Investing is hard.
There’s a lot to it and it’s super overwhelming, especially for the first time.
But financial experts want you to think that it’s all easy.
And that’s the real problem.
Pretending Money is Easy Only Makes it Harder
When we think that something is supposed to be easy, but then we struggle with it, we just want to stop trying.
It’s why whenever your math teacher in high school said:
“Today class we’re going to cover this new topic, don’t worry it’s really easy”
Then he proceeded to show you the most complicated thing you’ve ever seen.
And guess what, now you feel like a complete idiot. There’s no way you’re going to raise your hand and ask a question because it’s supposed to be super easy. If you ask questions, everyone will know that you’re stupid.
It’s the same way with money.
We get told that money is easy.
“Just spend less than you make, and save the rest!”
Well, okay, but what if that’s hard? Then what?
We don’t want to talk about money with other people because then they’ll know that we’re not very good with it, and that must mean we’re stupid.
So we just don’t say anything and we keep on living our lives pretending that we’ve got it all together.
Let’s Stop Pretending That Money Is Easy
If we want to see a real change in the way people handle money.
If we want to learn from other’s mistakes.
If we want to use money to pursue our dreams and travel the world.
We’ve got to start by opening up and recognizing that money is tough. Most people struggle with it, and even the gurus have their own difficulties.
So let’s stop pretending that getting out of debt, saving money, and investing for the future are all common sense things that everyone should just know how to do.
The reality is that for the vast majority of people, managing money is one of the hardest things they do.
So let’s start acting like it.