There’s a lot of repetition to be found in the mainstream media’s personal finance coverage. And while the below pieces of advice may in some cases be quite applicable to the people who could stand to hear them, I just can’t stand to hear them anymore.
- The “Latte Factor”: Please stop telling me to give up the $5 daily cup of coffee. Anybody who takes their money even remotely seriously gave that up a long time ago. Hey, I totally agree that small leaks add up, but we need to move past the latte as the standard unit of measure for fiscal stupidity (I suggest bottled water).
- Move closer to town: This little gem has reared its head plenty as articles about how to cut gasoline expenses have proliferated. “Moving into the city means more opportunities to walk to work or utilize public transportation.” Unmentioned is the skyrocketing cost increase of nearly everything else that moving downtown entails. Also, some of us like living in the country from a lifestyle standpoint. Also, it’s disingenuous — the urban hipster penning that advice doesn’t actually want you to flood in from the ‘burbs or more rural areas. That would drive up the rent on the independent coffee shop where he gets his $5 latte, even though he knows he shouldn’t.
- Cut up your credit cards: I’m not saying this wouldn’t be a good starting point for plenty of people, but the physical act of doing so won’t make anybody better with money. It just means that their existing poor money habits will continue unfettered as other accounts are drained. Don’t fault the card, change the behavior of the cardholder.
- Drop television: Look, I know it saves money, and for some folks it may be easy enough to unplug the set. Kudos, truly, if you can do that and manage to not be insufferable about it. Those people obviously don’t have any strong sports allegiences. I can give up a lot of things, but I’m not giving up my Saints games, my wife ain’t giving up her Cowboys, and no way could either of us do without Georgia football & basketball. My feeling is, there’s a certain percentage of people that get an almost sexual rush out of saying, “I don’t even own a TV,” but they also tend to spend a lot of time at their friends & families’ homes watching other people’s televisions.