Stereotypes are everywhere in the world. Sometimes they’re relatively harmless assumptions we have about things, while sometimes they can be either the root or a major symptom of a major underlying problem, especially ethnic stereotypes. Various stereotypes over the years have led to such atrocities as slavery, racial tension, wars, and the genocide of countless millions.
Humans are drawn to stereotypes, that much is obvious. We have a desire to label things into neat little groups and to have those little groups meet our expectations. While every stereotype has its own individual origin, typically the root of a stereotype comes from pop culture in some sort of form.
Frankly, I think stereotypes are crap and I’m tired of them. If we believed pop culture, girls with glasses are homely, while girls with big breasts are stupid. Guys who enjoy dancing or figure skating get their masculinity questioned. Underage kids who smoke weed or drink are cool, kids who don’t fit the mold are losers. We all know these stereotypes are ridiculous.
Yet how about some of these ones? How many of the following do you believe? And more importantly, how many of the following would someone who has very little finance knowledge know?
Driving a new, expensive car is a good indicator of wealth.
Mutual funds are the most effective way to invest in the stock market.
Buying a house is the best investment you can make, renting is throwing your money away.
The stock market is a risky place to invest, better stick with GICs or savings bonds.
Investing on your own is dangerous.
And so on.
You might not believe that the above stereotypes are true, yet many do. What’s the solution? Should we go and personally educate every believer in bad financial stereotypes? Maybe beat them silly until they relent?
Like a true believer in anything, personal finance nerds are hardcore about their topic. We absolutely hate when people don’t get our religion. It frustrates us when people believe the untrue stereotypes that make the rounds about personal finance. Yet when it comes to topics we don’t care about, we’re no better than the people who don’t care about finance.
At the end of the day, stereotypes can be harmless or they can be extremely damaging. The stereotypes you label as harmless may be somebody’s passion. Maybe we should just try to avoid stereotypes all together.