This is a guest post from “Captain Awesome,” which is either the lamest or best pen name of all time. For some reason, he volunteered to write me something. Since I’m lazy, I relished the opportunity to have somebody else do the work around here. Anyway, you should read it. It’s better than the crap I usually write, anyway.
Right now, half of you are already tuning me out because I tried to throw some crazy word in the title. Stigma, you say? I have no clue what that is…let me go Google it. Don’t even try to deny it!
Let me save you some time real quick though.
According to Dictionary.com, a stigma is, “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.”
It has other definitions, but I really don’t care about those. Take that Science degree! Your general education courses were a waste of my time!
Now that I’ve derailed this discussion far enough; let me try and get this train back on track.
Why is it such a disgrace to discuss one’s finances? You know it, I know it, and just about everyone knows it. Oh, sure, we discuss how we just bought this super nice house or a boat or anything like that. By the way, I totally just bought this super nice house. I know, nice, right?
See what I did there? I indirectly hinted at how much I can afford without directly addressing how much I make or how I budget or what I do with my money. Why did I do it? I mean, aside from the obvious reason of me being just that awesome. The heart of it lies in the status that we think discussing what we can afford brings us. Your coworker shares that he’s taking his family out to the lake on his boat. He isn’t sharing because anyone cares what he does on the weekend, because we don’t. He is sharing because he wants the rest of us to marvel at the fact that he owns a boat and can afford to take it out. In other words, he’s flaunting his disposable income.
So without telling us how much he really makes (he’s actually deep in debt and keeps taking out loans to buy more stuff which he’ll never pay off), he just gives us the whole frat boy nudge about the hot girl he got with last night. I wonder what a sorority girl does? (Ed. note: that link is worth your time)
Anyways, the question is why? Why are we embarrassed to share our financial health in its entirety?
Reason #1: We are stupid.
We don’t want to put ourselves out there, laid bare, for others to scrutinize. After all, the way your peers look at you is all that really matters in life.
Reason #2: We actually are too caring.
We don’t want to make our friends and/or family feel worse about themselves and how much they’re making. So we keep it to ourselves.
Reason #3: It’s easier to pretend.
When I say pretend, I mean we only share part of our financial situation. After all, “I make $135k a year” sounds a hell of a lot better than, “I make $135k a year, but pay 85k a year in loans and various debts.”
So brace yourselves. I’m about to refute all these pathetic reasons. I’m just that good.
Refute #1: You really ARE stupid.
Here’s the real deal of the matter. A few people could actually give you some good advice on how to improve your financial health or offer suggestions on what they’ve done or mistakes they’ve made and how you can avoid those pitfalls. The few who might actually scoff at how deep in the red you might be? Kick them to the curb! Unless they’re your boss. In which case, laugh hardily at whatever joke they make and secretly plot on how you will END HIM.
Refute #2: Caring leads to missing out.
This is really where the disgrace of financial sharing seems to rear its ugly head the most, with your friends and family. We like to make the financial battle a solo quest. But if anyone else has ever played any form of MMORPG, you know you can’t do those raids on your own! Okay, I don’t really play any MMORPG’s, but I figure that’s what’s hip right now and some of you can relate. The point being that a hardship we bear on our own means making the same mistakes that someone else we know made. Heh, silly Uncle Frank and his investments…
Refute #3: We all know the truth and despise you more for it.
If you’re that guy that says he makes “such-and-such” amount…? The truth is that we realize you’re just flaunting it in front of us and that makes you look like a total dirtbag. Anyone who has had to deal with the pain of taxes knows that what your income looks to be is never what you really get. We all pay all these silly deductions like medical and social security and whatever. So we know that even if you’re telling the truth (could be lying) and you really make that make (highly doubt it), you really aren’t seeing it all anyways. There may be a few moments of awe and envy, but those will end and we will just dislike you more for it. Or secretly plan to rob your house. You have insurance, right?
I do believe that things are getting better in regards to the “financial stigma”, but they’ve got a long ways to go. So I’ll make you, the readers here at Financial Uproar, a deal. I’mma make you an offer you can’t refuse. If enough people are interested, I will give a full financial accounting of myself. No social security numbers (I learned after that darn Nigerian prince scammed me), no bank names, no backstory. I won’t weave a tale of woes. I will lay out hard numbers for you to look at. But only if you, the readers, want.
I’m 25 years old and I’m Awesome. Thanks for reading.