Getting Personal About Personal Finance


43 Comments
Personal Finances are Personal

If you’ve ever read a single post on our blog, it shouldn’t come as news to you that we’re sorta into personal finances. I guess that could be kinda weird to some folks, but based on the fact that you’re reading this sentence on our blog, you probably don’t think it’s that weird. Or you do and you just visit our blog to make fun of us because you think we’re weird. Which would be weird. So for a brief paragraph recap, there’s a lot of weird going on.

Anyway, we like personal finance. We like that a single book on the topic helped us get out of debt. We like that it has brought more control and freedom to our lives. We like that it has us questioning what we’re working for. We just really like it.

All that being said, we’re not all that crazy about sharing that “like” with people we know. You might be saying to yourself…

Surely a couple that obsesses about personal finances to the point of blogging about it must LOVE talking to friends and family about the same topic, right?! Right? Guys? Wait, why are you looking down at your feet and kicking invisible rocks? HELLO?!

Yeah, so this blog? Haven’t told anyone we know about it — sorry, Mom! Our debt story? We’ve told it to maybe two or three friends and family. In fact, the lady… excuse me, sandwich artist at Subway who makes my once-a-week $5 footlong probably knows more about our saving/spending habits than our friends and family.

But why? Why is that? Quite honestly, we’re not totally sure. But here are our best guesses.

It’s Personal

We’re really proud that we paid off our $20k of debt in 18 months. Proud, not arrogant. It was a personal goal that we set together and accomplished together. And therein lies the first problem. It all seems very personal. It’s about our money and our negligence and our hard work to payoff debt and save. So why blog about it then if it’s so personal? Well, the interesting thing about having a blog is that we can actually be quasi-anonymous. And while we’ve gotten to know some of you through your comments, About You page (please do this!), and other blogs, most of you are like-minded personal finance geeks and the topic of finances doesn’t feel too personal with you guys.

Fear of Passing Judgement

So maybe we were able to get out of debt. Fine. But what if our friends haven’t? In fact, what if our friends aren’t even concerned about their own debt? Obviously, we want to help them. But how do we do that without assuming they’re interested? And how can we do it without being preachy or without them thinking we’re passing judgement on their financial standing? This is likely our greatest hurdle in sharing more openly.

We’re Not Experts

In fact, we’re about as far from experts as possible. That’s probably not what we should be announcing to the world, but it’s true. We’re just doing the best we can, learning as we go and documenting it here. But if we tell our family and friends about our love of personal finance or that we have a blog all about it, we’re afraid they’ll think that we think we’re know-it-alls. Follow that? And on top of that, they’ll expect us to make perfect financial decisions and scrutinize every move we make. No thanks.

So are those worries warranted? Probably not. But they’ve been enough to keep these normally fast-talking-loud-mouths from sharing more. We don’t drink, but it’s sad that our worst “drunk secret” we’d be afraid of spilling is our love of Dave Ramsey and 401k/529s/IRAs four-letter words.

And we should be telling people. While we were getting out of debt, it would have been awesome if our friends and family were able to provide us positive reinforcement and be more mindful about inviting us to fancy schmancy restaurants. And now that we’re out of debt, we’d love to be able to help others we know who are struggling with it. So maybe it’s time to spill the beans.

How much do you share about your personal finance goals and interests? Do you have family and friends that get it, or are you alone? Mom, Dad, are we actually terrible at hiding secrets and you’re here reading this?

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43 Comments

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 27, 2013 at 7:14 am

    We’ve written about this on our site in the past because we have two drastic extremes. My family knows pretty much nothing about our finances, whereas Mr. PoP’s folks were our lenders on a $50K loan that we used to invest in more real estate a couple of years ago. They don’t ask to see our checking ledger or anything, but they know about what we make and where they stand in terms of being paid back.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      That’s great that you are open with one set of parents. And it’s awesome that you can use them as lenders as well. They sounds like some pretty great in-laws! :)

  • Reply Rob February 27, 2013 at 7:40 am

    It’s a “yes and no” answer where we are concerned regarding our personal finances. We’ve never shared this knowledge with our parents or any of our siblings; however, our daughter has for some years now prepared our annual income taxes (using accounting software from her Accounting Company, where she is in senior management) and her hubby (our son-in-law) acts as our financial adviser since he runs his own financial services franchise company.

    From what I’ve read and learned over the years it’s for the best that one NOT get involved with financial matters with others in the family – unless you wish to help out at times with financial gifts. Lending money to family or friends, passing on your views in financial matters, etc. never usually seems to work out nor be appreciated in most cases, from what I’ve read.

    So you guys are handling things in the right way, in my opinion.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I think you’re right, Rob. I don’t think Johnny and I necessarily want to get involved with family members’ finances, but we just wish the topic weren’t so taboo.

      And talk about a power couple with your daughter and her husband! Accounting and financial advisement? That’s a pretty awesome duo.

  • Reply debtperception February 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I’m completely open on my blog. Any family and friends who are on Facebook (those who see my status updates) know I’m blogging about my personal finances. Sometimes they’re helpful with comments, sometimes I don’t even know if they’re reading. No one lives near me so these subjects haven’t come up in conversations but maybe they will in the future. My parents know about my debt but my mom doesn’t want anything to do with computers and probably doesn’t even know what a blog is so I don’t go there with her. :)

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Way to go on having the guts to be open about everything!

      Be glad your mom wants nothing to do with computers/technology. My parents both recently joined Instagram and it is bad news. 😉

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 27, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I share just enough to give people the run down. I don’t put everything out there because I think that is unnecessary. I have talked with my parents and a few other people know, but that would be it.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Good call. I think Johnny and I have always imagined it as an all or nothing kind of thing when it comes to telling people. But it might be nice to start with just sharing a little and see how that goes.

  • Reply John S @ Frugal Rules February 27, 2013 at 9:01 am

    We do not share much about our finances, and for many of the same reasons. Dealing with family/friends and money has the potential to be quite tricky and we just like to be able to avoid that. That’s not to say we’ll always keep it that way, but for now we are.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Yup. Until we figure out the best way to go about it, mum’s the word!

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey February 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I share everything with my readers online. As for friends and family… it depends. I have one or two friends who might actually get what I’m saying and doing and I will talk with a little bit about it.

    I don’t even bother to try to explain financial independence to anyone else. The ideas of saving money, or investing in something other than a 401k, or that want to be able to no longer have to work for a living, are all totally foreign concepts. I might as well just start speaking in tongues.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      I’ve come across friends and coworkers who are totally disinterested in financial planning as well. That said, I’ve also been caught off guard by just how many people do care about the subject… it’s just such a taboo topic that you never really know!

  • Reply Michelle February 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I share everything with my readers, and it makes it easy since I am semi-anonymous. I do wish I could tell me friends about my blog though!

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      We feel the same way… if only all the stuff we mentioned above didn’t go along with being more open with friends and family!

  • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF February 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I’ll talk with anyone to the extent that they are interested about PF and even some of our own situation. Our blog is on my FB profile and lots of my friends will bring up subjects with me that they’ve read about on the blog or have questions about. I don’t think they feel judged; they just want to ask about something we wrote about or learn something that can help them. I find it very gratifying, actually, that my friends seek out my guidance or opinion. If I don’t know about something I’ll just say that and maybe direct them to some resources.

    As for hard numbers, we don’t broadcast our net worth or whatever, although I will answer if someone asks me privately. Most of what we discuss is rather qualitative.

    I actually think it’s strange to conceal something you’re so interested in and passionate about from your friends and family!

    • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF February 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      After reading some of the other comments, I feel I should add a detail about my life that may explain the relative openness within my friend group about money: My husband and I and most of our friends are graduate students, which means that we all have virtually the same income (even the fortunate overachieving few only are paid 20-25% more) and our pay is somewhat low. So we’re all sort of on the same level ground to begin with in terms of income (plus student loans from undergrad are eligible for deferment). So the awkwardness of talking about salary doesn’t exist because we’re all more or less the same, it’s just the differences in how we choose to spend and save from that point.

      • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        I totally understand, Emily. The few friends we have talked about finances with were from our college days. We all knew we had similar financial situations so it was natural to discuss the topic. (But we’ve yet to tell them about our blog!)

  • Reply Kasey February 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

    my family and friends all know about my debt and my struggle to pay it off. They know that I have an online blog but I have never told anyone what the name of it was. Even though I am an open book to them I’m not sure how I would feel with them reading it.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      I can understand that, Kasey. You can probably be more free with your writing knowing that no one you’re close to is reading the content. I could see Johnny and me feeling a tad self-conscious if we knew a close family or friend was reading!

  • Reply Mary February 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I don’t discuss our personal finances with friends or family and the man doesn’t feel comfortable with this either. I’ve mentioned to my close gal pals that we have SOME debt but I’ve never disclosed the amount. I think if people knew that at our highest point we owed $6300 in consumer debt they would definitely pass judgement on that. We’ve since paid it down by half but still. $6K sounds like a lot of money! I think if I told anyone about us owing that much consumer debt, they would assume we are reckless with credit cards which is not at all the case or they would assume that we depend on credit cards because we have a hard time making ends meet with our own paper.

    The most I’ve disclosed about our income as a couple is that “our numbers look good on paper but we have a lot of bills”. Vague enough.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      That’s the great thing about our personal finances — we don’t have to share a darn thing if we don’t want to! :) I think doing what makes you comfortable is the best thing, Mary. Why is it people pass judgment on others’ finances when it doesn’t affect them at all? I’ve been guilty of it before. For me, that’s the biggest reason Johnny and I have thus far kept stuff to ourselves.

  • Reply Do or Debt February 27, 2013 at 11:10 am

    My family and friends know most everything. I haven’t been telling my friends who are awful with money how much I’ve paid off my debt, though. I don’t think they’d get it. Some people don’t care about personal finance, so there is no point in talking to them. But if I find someone that is, I love to nerd out with them!

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Yep! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my two best friends are people I see eye to eye on personal finances with. It’d be hard to be as close to them if I couldn’t bring up personal finances!

  • Reply [email protected] February 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

    We don’t talk about it much with friends and family because people close to us are truly not interested. That is why we have found so much value in the online personal finance community. We have made friends with so many people with similar interests!

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      True that! Just a few months ago Johnny and I had no idea what a huge community of personal finances bloggers there were!

  • Reply Chris February 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    “It’s Personal”
    I only talk about it with my immediate family and close friends. One friend in particular. I don’t go around telling random strangers my net worth or anything. Even the girls I date don’t know that I’m secretly choosing the best (but cheapest) item on the menu. I’m also a huge fitness freak so I think most people just chalk up all my financial idiosyncracies to that.

    “Fear of Passing Judgement”
    I’m actually more afraid of the opposite. Most people I talk about finances with are older than me and aren’t always wiser. I’m told constantly that investing is dumb and naive in this market. I’m young and incredibly aggressive with my investments (because I can afford to do that right now) so most older people don’t understand that. Especially if they lost their shirt in ’08.

    “We’re Not Experts”
    This is the worst one. I’ve been approached by my dad and a couple friends who have said they want me to invest for them. They want to give me say like $1,000 to day trade with. It’s incredibly annoying because I have to explain to them each time that I am not an expert. I mean, I don’t even have a blog! Haha.

    So do you guys ever think you will come out of the proverbial blogger closet and tell your parents/loved ones the news?

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Johnny is right there with you with getting the best, cheapest item on the menu at restaurants. I laughed when I read that because it sounded so familiar.

      And it sounds like you strike the perfect balance with standing firm on your investments despite what others say, but you also aren’t looking to be an expert for others. Well done.

      I don’t know about Johnny, but I don’t see a time in the near future when we’ll come out. If we do, we’d probably test it with Johnny’s family first because they’re a tad less opinionated than my own. 😉

      • Reply Chris February 28, 2013 at 7:52 pm

        What would you do if they found out by accident!? That would be awkward. “So, I found you kids on the interwebs today telling everyone but you’re own family that you got a free baby.” Oh my, that would be an interesting blog post.

        • Reply Joanna March 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

          The goal is to tell them *before* that happens. And if it does happen, at least we’ll get a good blog post out of it! :)

  • Reply Lacy @EarnVerse February 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    On my blog I try to keep it fairly general. No one needs to know exactly what my salary was, how much debt I paid off and the exact interest rate I was paying on my student loans. Instead I use things like “paid double digit interest on my student loans”. You know it’s above 10%, which is a s*(#ton. Do you really need to know more?

    I am, however, really open with friends and family. It may be different because I am getting my MBA in finance at Columbia, which is known for finance! Friends and family know I am going to school and that I am really passionate about finance. And because I came from humble beginnings, they know I am passionate about personal finance in particular. That probably makes it easier to be open about it. I don’t know all of the answers, but if I don’t I generally know where to go to find it. I get questions all the time, and I am happy to help share knowledge. It’s up to them if they use it that or not, but it feels great to know you are helping someone you love secure a better financial future.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      That’s awesome. It’d be hard to hide your passion for finance from family and friends when you’re training to become a professional on the subject! How great to get your MBA in something you’re so passionate about!

  • Reply Emily February 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I find talking about finances with most people is completely unproductive because in today’s society everyone just assumes you function in massive debt. Some people don’t understand why my husband and I make the choices we do to stay debt free. We appear to be fun hating, cheap skates; when in reality we are simply living within our very small means for the time being. Hopefully things change with future job opportunities, but we have no desire to get into debt to keep up with those around us. We love us some Dave Ramsey-ish ways and intend to keep on track with our goals. I am choosing to forego an income and stay home to raise our son for now. I will never regret these precious years of togetherness and serving my family. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us all!

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Way to go, Emily! It sounds like you and your husband have it together. And you don’t need to answer to anyone other than yourselves. The sacrifices you’re making now will pay off big time in years to come! :)

      And if we’ve shared wisdom, it was *completely* accidental. But we’ll take it! 😉

  • Reply Shannon @ The Heavy PUrse February 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I’m not an anonymous blogger because my children’s book has my real name on it, so …. but I understand your dilemma. I’m a financial advisor so I am either the most popular guest (for free advice) or the least popular guest (you make me think about my debt and now I feel bad so I’m avoiding you like the plague). You story is personal but also a great achievement too. Some people will be incredibly proud and others will be uncomfortable, but only you know when it’s the right time to share.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      That’s kind of nice that the choice was made for you! I’m not sure when we’ll share, but I’m hoping we’ll just know that the time’s right, like you said.

  • Reply D5 February 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I talk about the subject of personal finance quite a bit with my friends and family, but considering my level of nerdiness (engineer) I don’t think my interest in the math aspect surprises anyone. That being said, I don’t talk to anyone about MY personal finances or my blog. Reaching financial independence is something that I’m passionate about, but I’m also a very private person. Relative anonymity is a wonderful thing.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      I’m not sure we would ever talk about our own personal finances either. But I think it’d be really nice to get to the point that we could talk about personal finances in general with family like you do. Right now the subject has never even been brought up!

  • Reply Brian February 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    My parent’s (well at least my dad) know everything and I know almost everything about their finances. This is by design and because I am interested in it. My dad wanted to make sure there were no surprises when they pass and I (or my sister if she moves back here) are dealing with the paperwork.

    My in-laws know some and I know a decent amount about them because they ask my opinion on lots of financial topics. So overall my family is pretty open.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      That’s great, Brian. It sounds like you and your family are mostly on the same page with each other. I can’t speak for Johnny’s family, but in my own family there are lots of different opinions and philosophies to be had about money, so I think that’s why we’re all pretty private. That said, if we ever become open with family, I think it will be Johnny’s!

  • Reply Michelle February 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I think talking about your own personal finances leaves a person feeling super exposed and vulnerable. At the end of the day you never know what is going on in someone else’s financial life. Your pride/joy/ etc. in an achievement may accidentally trigger feelings of anger and jealousy. You have to be really aware of who you’re dealing with. No one knows the exact amount of my debt-I am thinking about adding up all the paid off stuff as I continue blogging and posting it there. Until then, unless I get married no one will know the exact details except for me. But, I will talk about paying debt off, cheer my friend’s achievements, and gently give advice is asked.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Great points, Michelle. You’re wise to be aware of others’ feelings. Totally not worth it to talk finances with others if it could negatively affect your relationship with that person! It sounds like you’ve found a way to talk about it generally without it becoming too personal, which is awesome.

  • Reply Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin February 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I use to talk finance and personal finance with anyone who was willing to listen. Unfortunately over the years it has destroyed more friendships and relationships than it has helped. Now I only give my opinion if someone approaches me for advice. I’ve learned the hard way over time that people must be willing to learn in order to accept personal finance knowledge.

    • Reply Joanna February 28, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Well, even if you learned the hard way, at least you learned, right? I think the attitude you have now is the right one. It’s frustrating to see disinterest in someone who could use some good financial advice, but in those situations, you’re right — it’s not worth saying anything!

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