Don’t Be a Financial Ostrich

Ostriches are stupid. Don't be a financial ostrich.

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Ostriches are stupid. Like, really, really stupid. With brains about the size of a walnut, I shouldn’t be surprised I guess.

It’s “common knowledge” that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re in danger. Frequently cited as a defense mechanism, it’s become a colloquialism for ignoring unpleasant things.

In fact, ostriches don’t actually do this, so if you believed they did, stop. #truthbomb

Nevertheless, I’m running with  this common misconception to get a point across. Because, as it turns out, the colloquialism is very real and when it comes to money, it can be extremely damaging.

Head in the Sand

I’m absolutely amazed at how many people seemingly have their head in the sand when it comes to money.

At the slightest talk of 401(k) plan changes, they zone out. Email from their credit card company? Auto-delete. Some “ESPP” thing at work gets promptly ignored because ‘stocks are risky‘.

For many people, gaining financial literacy and facing their problems head-on just isn’t something they’ve done.

Better to be Aware of Financial Lions

Here’s the deal. Your financial situation is what it is. It’s not dependent on your knowledge of it.

Whether you know how much money you owe or not, you still owe that money. Your credit score is the same whether you look at it or not.

Your retirement portfolio? Yeah, it’s not going to magically save you without your involvement – you need to put in the effort.

Financial illiteracy is one thing. Most money-related topics aren’t taught in schools, especially middle school or high school.

But avoiding financial knowledge out of fear, overwhelm, or disappointment? Those are not good excuses.

There are tons of ‘financial lions’ in your life – predators that you need to be aware of. But many of them can be dealt with by simply educating yourself and taking some pretty easy actions.

Own Your Situation

If you want to actually know where you are, where you’re going, and what you need to do to get there, you need to educate yourself. Own your financial situation, because nobody else is going to own it for you.

That’s the hard truth. No matter what you do in your life, you’re the person who cares – or should care – about your money the most. Folks will try to take it, but nobody really cares as much as you how your money grows.

So how do you actually own your money situation?

For starters, read through the Financial Fridays posts.

Then, at a bare minimum, set yourself up on Personal Capital and Credit Sesame. Make a plan to knock out any debt you have. These are the easiest first steps to setting you on solid financial ground.

Most importantly, though, commit to actually educating yourself and giving a damn. There are excellent resources online. Here are a few I’ve collected for you to get started.

Good Beginners Guides to Managing Your Money

Reading is a critical component to furthering your education; one that many of us probably neglect after we’re done with school.

There’s a huge selection of books available, though, that help develop you personally, professionally, and deepen your financial knowledge.

If you prefer to read about people’s personal experiences, there are nearly 1500 blogs in the Rockstar Directory of people sharing their journey. Chances are pretty good that you can find something you can relate to among that list.

If all else fails, of course, you can start documenting your own financial journey. Starting this blog helped Kristin and I feel more accountable for our financial situation.

Even though we don’t disclose our exact numbers, we still share the good and the bad along the way.

It’s never too late to start taking control of your financial situation. The sooner you do, the better off you’ll be.

Some Final Thoughts

Remember, spending less isn’t enough. It’s great to spend less, but it won’t do the trick by itself. Here’s some great advice by Paula Pant.

There's more to good financial behavior than just spending less.

Question:

What was the spark that got you interested in managing your money?

 

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7 Comments

  1. My mom and brother behave like the ostrich at any mention of stocks, money, investing etc. They just don’t want to think about it or deal with it. It’s too bad, as it’s been hurting them for a long time now. I think some folks decide that a certain thing is too hard to learn and then they just mentally put up a huge wall.

    1. Yeah those mental walls are killer to progress though which is frustrating I’d imagine when it is people you’re so close to. Sometimes you just need to let them be and come to terms with reality on their own 🙂 Pushing folks, even if it’s toward the ‘right’ thing, is almost never well-received!

      Thanks as always for weighing in AF!

  2. I don’t think there ever was a “spark” because I’ve always been good with money since I was little, collecting every coin I could and putting it in the bank. Recently, though, I’ve become more adamant simply because I am starting a family with my wife.

    1. Congrats on starting a family, Joe, that’s awesome! I definitely think some people have just kind of had that ‘spark’ for their entire life. Kudos to that! 🙂

  3. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. Trickle-down economics isn’t going to save. And neither is trickle-down government. The only thing that is going to save you is trickle-down selfonomics.

    Get your head out of the sand and make a conscious effort to master your financial life. This post provides everything a financial neophyte needs to do just that. Great freakin’ post, my friend.

    1. ‘Trickle down selfonomics’ – I love it! What a great way to phrase it 🙂

      If you read Jillian’s post today about Showing Up and Leaning In, it’s kind of the same thing. Funny how there seem to be themes that pop up at the same time across the blogosphere!

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