I was talking to a friend this past weekend about “personal finance,” what it means and how it’s applied. It many ways, it was an extension of my post about the never-ending nature of personal finance.
“You know,” he said, “it seems to me the whole idea of personal finance is just for middle class people. The poor don’t have enough money to think about what they want to do, and the rich have plenty and don’t care.”
I thought about what he said a lot since our conversation. I realized that he and I had very different ideas of what “personal finance” really is.
You see, to him, it’s essentially what people do when they evaluate different options for their discretionary income. If that’s the case, then you can see why people on either end of the income spectrum might not have a need for it. It’s a “middle-class thing.”
There are a few reasons why I think he’s got the wrong idea:
- On some level, we’re all managers of resources and assets. Some people have more, some have less. Some people are able to make choices simply not reachable by others. Some have other people manage their money for them. But everyone’s making choices.
- Even the poor have opportunity. My friend seems to think, at least on a subconscious level, that the poor will always remain poor because that’s just how they’re set up to operate. But you and I both know that anyone can make it big, with enough effort and sacrifice.
- Even the rich can go bankrupt. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re wealthy and sloppy about your money, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to stay up there. Personal finance doesn’t stop because you have a lot of money.
“Well then, why do you think all the blogs and books I come across are targeted to middle-class folks?” he asked.
“Well,” I answered, “it’s probably because you’re only looking for what pertains to you.”
There are plenty of books targeted to the wealthy, and plenty more trying to get people out of poverty. But if you’re on a level of financial achievement similar to mine, are you looking at either extreme? Chances are, you don’t even realize it’s there.