I often say to my wife that her and I are each in careers where everyone else knows better than we do. Nutrition? You can find 2.6 billion experts on Facebook (that’s Facebook’s entire user base as reported in 2019). Personal finance? Walk through the self-help personal finance section at the bookstore and try to keep your head from spinning.
Commenting on either of these two topics is sure to yield a firestorm, especially if you’re not “an expert”.
I attribute the volatility of these two categories to a few different factors:
- Everyone enjoys eating food and everyone enjoys having money, so there are bound to be opinions.
- There are an endless number of ways to prepare your food and an endless number of ways to build your personal finance structure.
- There is no single one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring your body receives the healthy nutrients it needs, nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach to generating, earning, saving, and spending money.
As a result, people gravitate to plans of action that claim to provide all the benefit without all the hard work. Fad diets come and go by the week (day, perhaps?) and get-rich-quick schemes spread faster on Facebook than the flu in spring. There isn’t a Monday that goes by that our office doesn’t have to talk someone off a financial cliff because of a conversation they had around the campfire on the weekend.
One of the most unique lessons my wife works to instill in her clients as a registered dietitian is to have a healthy relationship with food. Our relationship with the food we eat defines what we want to eat, and therefore, we look and act upon incentives to allow us to eat the food we want to eat. Changing that relationship and changing the incentives is key to finding a healthy nutritional balance.
This relationship is instilled from our very beginnings as infants and toddlers. How often have you heard the phrase “If you eat your broccoli, you can have cake for dessert”? Or “If you finish your meatloaf, you can go outside to play”?
What do these comments instill in a young child? What do they incentivize?
My wife’s approach to fad diets is another worth emulating. There are far too many fad diets to talk about individually, but nearly all of them promise instant benefit so long as you wholly and fully cut out “X” — “X” being sugar, or salt, or carbs, or calories, or alcohol, or… air?
I kid, but really.
Her lesson: eat in moderation. If you cut out sugar entirely from your body,1 you are bound to give in to a craving somewhere down the road, resulting in a sugar binge that puts you in a worse place than if you had just kept eating the way you always had before.
I absolutely love these nutritional lessons, and they are perfectly applicable to the money world as well.
In fact, we’ve adopted these same two lessons in our financial lives, and we’ve found a modicum of success. There are always hiccups along the way, to be sure, nor would I pretend these methods (among others) will answer the world’s financial problems.
There is a chance though, however small, that these methods could help other people. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Helping other people.
But first, some meta talk.
This blog has been around in some shape or form since 2013, and while I’ve linked to other financial articles or written a few short blurbs in the past, the site probably isn’t on Google’s rankings as a “personal finance” website.
Second, I have worked to keep my J-O-B job (to steal Myke Hurley’s quote) somewhat separate from my work online. Every now and then, the two will intermingle. But, if my finger is on the pulse, anyone who follows me on the Twitters, who follows this site, or who reads my work on The Sweet Setup likely thinks of me as a photographer, potential Apple iDevice nerd, and/or (I may puke in my mouth) a Canadian political commentator.2
So, am I an “expert” worthy of being listened to regarding financial topics? I have essentially no written portfolio on the topic, nor do I have credentials at the end of my name.3 I’ve spent the last nine years of my life working in the financial sector, the last seven years working in an accounting and tax office, and the last five years studying and working through my accountancy designation. That’s a far cry from being able to call myself an expert.
I have been taught lessons by some very smart people who have found high levels of success, both in finding and maintaining a financial balance in their lives. I have witnessed individuals pull themselves out of a terrible financial situation. I have seen those who build wealth incrementally each day after starting with nothing. I have seen those who have built upon their parent’s legacy after receiving an inheritance.
And I want to share some of those lessons with you.
Take these thoughts for what they’re worth. Ponder them. Give them a shot. See if they work in your life. Like our unique bodies, there are no two financial situations that look the same.
Maybe some of those lessons can help improve some of those unhealthy, fad diets out there. It’s worth a try.
Theoretically, this means all fruit and juices, but I don’t think people understand how much sugar is in the foods they associate as “healthy”. ↩
That last one is embarrassing. Trust me, I’m working on it. ↩
Another one of those “I’m working on it” aspects. I aim to be designated in May 2021 after 10 hard years of school. ↩