A recent paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S. declares that Americans are horrible with money.
Really? I’m so surprised. It says things like:
• The majority of Americans do not plan for predictable events such as retirement or children’s college education.
• People do not make provisions for unexpected events and emergencies.
• More than one in five Americans has used alternative (and often costly) borrowing methods (payday loans, advances on tax refunds, pawn shops, etc.)
We might like to think that this is an American problem but we Canadians are just as bad — as witnessed by the growth in our pay advance loan industry and our pathetically low savings rates. We even had our own financial literacy task force that reported we needed “urgent action on a national strategy.” (yawn) Anyone seen any urgent action?
If you’re waiting for the government, the school system, or any external force to act upon you or the people you love to make you Money Smart, I’ve got some lovely — if a little water-logged — land in Florida I can sell you, cheap cheap.
Being Money Smart means accepting personal responsibility for what you’re doing with your money. If you’re carrying a balance on your credit card that means you’re spending more money than you make. Stop. If you don’t have two red cents to knock together that means you’re not saving any money. Start.
Money isn’t rocket science. And most of what I tell people to do with their money falls into the category of good ol’ common sense. It doesn’t take a financial degree to know that if you’re skating through every month on the edge — or worse, living in overdraft — you’re not managing your money properly.
Resources abound. Ignorance is no excuse. And it usually isn’t the real problem. Denial is. If you’re horrible with money it’s because you choose to be horrible with money. Change your priorities and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.