Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 8, 2008
So after two years of writing this blog and reading thousands of other personal finance blog posts I’ve come to an important conclusion: we are all obsessed with personal finance. Ok, I know I’m stating the obvious, but let’s ask the next obvious question: why?
Why do supposed rational intellegent people fall into an obsession of paying off debt, saving for retirement or having a million dollars in net worth? What drives us to examine our lives in detail looking for excess spending or ways to maximize low cost happiness? Are we all sick with the same metal health disorder?
Perhaps the answer is as simple as: we like the numbers of it all. The numbers sooth us and bring order to a section of our lives where emotion and chaos typically run the show. The numbers provide a feeling of control and logic in one section of our lives. Or perhaps the inverse is true: we are all scared to death of making decisions based on feeling rather than logic (despite the fact most of your life is done that way).
Perhaps we do it to distract ourselves from our own financial messes. If I stop spending here because of this tip it is ok to keep ignoring the fact I’ve been paying high trading fees for years and high high MER on my mutual funds. We dance around our own problems by examining other things instead.
Perhaps we do it because money makes us feel uncomfortable. With billions living in poverty, how can we justify the way we live? So if we use the money wisely it’s ok to ignore the rest of the world? Or perhaps money is at the heart of a deep wound in our minds from our childhoods and now we are overcompensating for it.
Perhaps the truth of it all is we are all addicts, we do this to avoid feeling and looking at our own emotions. If we play with retirement calculators we can avoid the fact that we dislike our jobs. Or we can focus on paying off debt to avoid the conclusion that your spouse is a over spender and it is driving you to consider a divorce. Or we create insane goals to hide the fact that otherwise our lives feel empty of meaning.
Or perhaps we are so programed to be consumers that we can’t examine our lives in anything other than the context of stuff and money. We love and hate ourselves for it and can’t find a new reality context to give our lives substance and detail.
Is it all of the above to some degree? You know I’m not sure myself. I see parts of myself in the above, what about you? What is your answer to the ‘why’ of it all?