Why, in a world so hyper-focused on gaining and spending wealth, do we so often shy away from the topic of financial management and planning?
We love to use money, but it seems that we don’t want to (or perhaps don’t know how to) have the conversation about how that can be done wisely. As someone fresh out of the college scene, this was something I saw all around me during my years at school. I’d like to say that as I entered the working world, financial ignorance was something that people grew out of, or sought to remedy. On the contrary, it seems that as the importance of financial literacy increases in people’s lives (mortgages, car payments, debt, ect…), their desire to learn more about how to steward their finances well decreases rather than increases.
To me it appears to be as simple as, “I want this, so I’ll buy this. Taking a step back to understand and evaluate my financial goals and future will keep me from buying it…so I’ll just avoid doing that for as long as I can”.
Of course that’s over simplifying it…but that thought process seems to be pretty solidly at the center of how we make our financial decisions. People take action based on what they want, and avoid what they know they need. In my opinion, this process is extremely backwards, and I think it’s worth having a conversation about how we, as modern day gentlemen, can rise above it and make wiser decisions that build a strong financial foundation for ourselves, and for our families.
Please, please do not make the assumption that me writing an article about financial stewardship implies that I am an authority on the topic. I have no formal training in financial management, and I certainly make many financial mistakes of my own!
I simply was fortunate enough to have parents that cared to teach me early and often about the importance of managing what I wanted, balanced against my goals and my money. That afforded me the opportunity to setup a system that worked for me very early on, and I’m extremely grateful for that.
I also don’t want to imply that there is no one out there talking about being wise with your finances. Of course there is a ton of very good information out there for people who are seeking to either start out, or to get back on the right track with their money!
What I’m saying here is that there are a great many more people who aren’t seeking that help at all. Who are willingly remaining blind to the information they know can help. Typically that’s because to seek it out means to really evaluate their current habits and behavior, which they already know are unwise and incorrect. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment surrounding money when it’s being mismanaged. I’d argue that that shame is unhelpful and ultimately completely misplaced.
Where else in our lives are we embarrassed to not be knowledgable about something that we’ve never been taught? Have you ever heard someone who has never held a baseball bat in their lives be embarrassed to say they don’t know how to hit a homerun? Of course not! They’d know that it takes practice, discipline, and time to learn how to hit homeruns, and they certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to swing a miss a few times a long the way.
In the same way we need to be honest about our financial literacy, and be willing to let others teach us who have spent the needed time to practice and learn for themselves.
The ultimate message I want to challenge you fine gentlemen with today is, are you building a strong financial foundation for you and your family? And if not, are you willing to seek the help you need to begin charting a different course?
I know, I know…it’s ridiculous how broad the topic of “financial management” is. This article isn’t even going to scratch the surface. We aren’t going to discuss best practices or common pitfalls. We aren’t even going to go into the questions you can ask yourself to evaluate what kind of help you may need. Truly this is just meant to challenge you towards thinking about these things and reaffirming the importance of it as we seek to live our lives as gentlemen in this modern day.
We talk so often of integrity, or honesty, or service or humility…and these are absolutely critically important traits of all gentlemen! But we don’t always pay close enough attention to the management of our money. Use this article as a catalyst to help make a different decision this time. To regain control of your financial future and start asking yourself how you can seek out the help you need to make that happen.
So, go! Go and be men who are humble enough to acknowledge what they don’t know, and courageous enough to begin learning it.