Jan 23

Personal Finance is Personal-Butt Out

student debt survivor

Have you noticed that the people; not just personal finance bloggers, but normal, regular folks, who chose to openly talk about money often receive a ton of unsolicited advice. Just mention a big purchase you’re planning to make, a decision to take out a loan, or a plan to save for retirement and friends, family and everybody within earshot is willing to give you a schooling on why it’s a good or bad idea and what their personal experiences have been.

Perhaps this is the reason that mom told me not to talk about money, sex and politics right?

So I’m curious, If you’re willing to put yourself “out there” and share your salary, spending habits, budget and/or financial goals, should you expect that others will offer advice? I have a few friends who have chosen not to share information about big purchases until after the purchase, because peers had been not been supportive of the purchase.

Personally, I blog because I like to talk about money and finances and I like getting other people’s feedback and advice. I also expect that there will be people who don’t agree with me, or the way I manage my personal finances, and I’m OK with that. I wouldn’t publicly share my financial situation if I didn’t want feedback. Good, bad or indifferent, bring it on!

Do you think people offering advice or criticism on your finances should butt out?

Or does it depend on the advice, or even the person offering the advice?

Image: RestrictedData


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  1. Pauline

    I think people should, if they consider their advice worthy. Many do and it’s not, I know. But if you put it out, it is for people to see and you can’t complain if they have an opinion.
    Most pieces of advice can make you reflect, however put.
    I can justify my spending and I don’t care what people think when I drop more money on flights than many on their mortgage, but I couldn’t justify buying 20 pairs of shoes a year. If I did and someone asked why, it would make me think and probably drop the habit.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Your flights, are some person’s “shoes” 😉 While I personally wouldn’t buy the shoes, I don’t judge someone who does. Everybody has items they’re willing to spend on and as long as they have a roof over their head and food in their tummy, I’m going to keep quiet. But if they broadcast their budget and ask for advice, I’m willing to give some, in a constructive manner. They might not like my advice, but they don’t have to take it.

  2. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank

    I never offer advice unless it is asked of me and I only give it if I know the person will be able to handle what I am going to tell them.

    Some people get really touchy about money and their spending habits and so I never ever help those people out as I’m not interested in being attacked for my personal viewpoint.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Being attacked is never fun, especially when the other party asked for advice and then refuses to take it. In real life it’s easier to know who really wants advice and who wasn’t a sugar coating 😉

  3. Greg@ClubThrifty

    Honestly, I don’t butt into others finances unless they ask. However, if somebody is going to complain about how they don’t have money to pay their bills on Facebook then tell everybody about the new iPad they bought, I think they should expect some comments. We don’t post our personal numbers on our blog because we don’t think it is anybody’s business and we don’t want the criticism.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      I have a few friends who make terrible financial decisions (like you mentioned about people who say they’re broke but then buy expensive non-necessities). But I still love them and I try hard to keep my personal opinions about their finances to myself. Even if they ask, I try not to comment. As for sharing actual numbers, I haven’t done so yet (I’ve shared percentages). I’m not sure if I will share actual salary info, as I’m not sure it’s really that important/relevant.

  4. DC @ Young Adult Money

    The funny things is no matter what you get a whole range of opinions no matter what “money” topic you are discussing. I am fine with people commenting or telling me I’m wrong, etc., but it doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind, agree with them, or respond back :) I also generally do not offer advice unless it’s some “tip” like ‘have you heard of an HSA account? we started doing it and these are the benefits…’ or I try to relate experiences/successes/failures I’ve had to their situation so that it’s more me talking about my own situation than their situation. Generally I don’t give unsolicited advice, though.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      That’s the beauty of blogging. Unlike in “real life”, if you don’t like comments people make you can just ignore them 😉

  5. Miss JJ

    For real life situations, I always try to err on the side of discretion, so absolutely no unsolicited advice.

    As for pf bloggers, I think that they should at least be consistent. Some examples:

    I see bloggers who start off their blogs saying they start their blogs partly for accountability and then in the next breath tell those who takes their word for it to butt out. That’s bait and switch. And so hypocritical. If I asked for advice or to be held accountable for my own actions, then I would feel that I had no right to rebuff others for taking me at my word.

    I see bloggers who get pissed off about people criticising their decisions, but then goes on to criticise others for their similar actions (I actually wrote 2 posts about it, I was so disturbed.) To me, you don’t get to say butt out if you insist on sticking your opinions onto others as well.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Oh interesting, I’m going to stop by to see your posts. Sometimes there does seem to be a little bit of confusion with blogs about whether people really want feedback or not. I figure if I put myself out there I have to be willing to hear other people’s advice and criticisms. Nobody forces me to share info about my fiances, so if I do that’s on me.

      As for judging others, I had $30K in student loan debt, so I’m certainly not one to be criticizing others for debt or poor financial decisions. We all make mistakes and don’t need others to remind us.

  6. Brian

    I feel like if you put it out there you are open to comments, whether they are constructive or not. When talking with friends I know which ones I will just smile and nod at and which ones I am willing ot listen to their advice. Among my friends I am asked for my opinion because they know I’m kind of a finance junkie (usually this is investment advice and I just give them my honest opinion but also say you should come to your own conclusion aswell).

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Yeah, with real life friends it’s easier to identify the ones that actually listen and want advice.

  7. Marie at Family Money Values

    Unasked for advice is hardly ever welcome, anywhere! However, you might gain by putting your ideas out there – someone may be able to show you how to get your purchase for less, or steer you from a bad seller and etc.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Very true. There’s a delicate balance, but in a lot of cases I’ve found it’s better to just keep quiet (unless the other party specifically asks for advice and I feel I’m knowledgeable enough to respond adequately).

  8. Mackenzie

    My friends and I don’t really talk about money in specifics, just in general terms. But if someone asks for advice, then I feel one ought to respond. However, unsolicited advice is never a good thing and people tend to become resentful over it.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      I agree, and once given you can’t take it back. Hurt feelings all around.

  9. John S @ Frugal Rules

    When talking about money with friends I really try and keep it general in nature as to avoid any ill feelings. Most of my friends know where I stand, so there’s no point to offer unsolicited advice…I think that can often just lead to hurt feelings.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      I don’t offer advice to friends and only offer solicited advice to bloggers when they specifically ask for it. They know their situation better than I do, and who am I to judge?

  10. C The Writer

    Yes and no. I think a lot of the people who comment to my blog mean well, and are probably more experienced and knowledgeable in the financial realm than myself. But some of them have a way of phrasing their advice in the most hurtful way possible, or accusing me of being worthless or lazy or any number of things that I’m not. So it’s hard sometimes.

    What I choose to do with my life IS my business. There are people who even suggested that I should not have moved into my apartment because I couldn’t afford it. But I couldn’t afford what was happening to me before. Just because I wasn’t paying in money doesn’t mean it wasn’t costing me. I’m much happier now.

    I don’t mind people offering advice, but tact would help, especially for someone like me who is in a really difficult situation.

    1. AmandaH

      But C, you’re never tactful towards others when you comment on their blogs. You routinely tell people that they’re being stupid or dumb or making stupid choices. You even call people out on your blog – calling them idiots and morons and other names. Why should people treat you any better than you treat them?

    2. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Tactful comments are important. I think blog comments are particularly hard because you don’t know if people have good intentions or if they are trying to be hurtful (and in a lot of cases you don’t personally know the person commenting). I haven’t always agreed with comments made on the site, but I appreciate that folks came by to comment (and if it’s a hurtful comment I just let it roll of my back).

      1. C The Writer

        Yeah, I’ve learned to just ignore people who are really nasty. Hopefully they’ll just go away eventually.

  11. Brian Fourman

    For me it depends on the person offering the advice. I have a few individuals in my circle of life that know my situation and that I respect enough to listen to. Otherwise, I tune it out because I’ve spent a lot of time defining a financial plan I am comfortable with and I don’t need people messing with my head.

    I’m with others who have commented in that I don’t offer advice unless I’m asked; or, if in the conversation, they are describing a negative, money related event. The second scenario does require a little more boldness and the sensitivity to quickly back away from the topic if they react poorly.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Yeah, I think knowing when to pull back is important. Sometimes you might think you’re helping or offering good advice (that worked for you) but can inadvertently really piss somebody off, especially in blog format where social cues aren’t available for reference.

  12. AmandaH

    I think blogging and talking about money are two entirely different things. If you’re going to blog about your money or financial situation and you leave comments open on your blog, then you shouldn’t get upset when people offer opinions, thoughts, or advice.

    In person is a little different, I think, because usually when we talk about money, we’re not putting things out there the same way that we do in blogging. There’s a difference between a normal spoken conversation with it’s ebb and flow and an article/response format. In a conversation, I’d be less likely to just put advice out there and more likely to ask if the person speaking wanted to hear thoughts and opinions or not.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      I agree. In a conversation it’s much easier to read social cues or outright ask if the other party specifically wants suggestions or advice. In blog format it’s more difficult.

  13. Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    I think that if you put yourself out there, then you should expect advice. While I don’t take advice unless I ask, it doesn’t bother me.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      True. If people know about your situation I think it’s human nature (for good and for bad) that they put their $0.02 in.

  14. Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

    I stay away from advising anyone, if someone asks I always start with well in my opinion or from what I read and I try to end with something similar to reinforce that I am only speaking as my opinion.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      Always good to clarify, “this is what’s worked for me, but that’s only my experience”. Then if it doesn’t work you can’t be blamed for sharing your experience.

  15. Tackling Our Debt

    Interesting that your mom said money, sex, politics. In our house and when I went to school it was money, politics and religion. All were taboo and people would let you know pretty quickly if you crossed the line.

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      I wasn’t super interested or involved in religion as a teen, my parents probably would have been pleased if I’d spoken about religion at the dinner table 😉

  16. Marissa @ Thirty Six Months

    I like telling people, and talking to people about money. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that I enjoy it. Now this doesn’t mean that I want to help manage your portfolio, but I like giving common sense advice. Mostly because common sense seems to be a foreign concept for most.

  17. AverageJoe

    It totally depends on the person. I’m not at all excited about getting advice from some people but get geeked when others (who are good with money) give me advice. It also has to be presented well.

  18. Catherine

    The only person I’ve even ‘butted’ in with was my sister and it was because she was totally oblivious to how destructive she was being she needed a good kick in the ass and I’m happy to report that shes doing much better. Any other time i hold my tongue unless asked….like my best friend who is ‘beyond stressed’ about her credit card debt but just told me she booked a trip to visit a friend in another province because ‘she couldn’t pass the ticked price down’…her money, she didn’t ask me….I’m not perfect either but I make sure I don’t complain about the financial choices I made.

  19. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

    In real life I will only give my opinion when asked. Same goes for bloggers. If they offer up a post with personal details and then ask readers what they think then I’ll tell them what I think if I feel inclined. I do my best to not offend or intimidate in my response. At the end of the day, what you do with your money and how you spend it is purely your concern.

  20. Brian

    Getting feedback is the reason we put our finances out there. I think if we pool our collaborative PF knowledge, we’ll all end up better off and we can’t get there if we’re not willing to share.

  21. Brett @ wstreetstocks

    Great tips! Personally, I never give personal finance advice unless it is requested. Good to hear your thoughts on this subject. I too blog to hear others feedback.

  22. Mikhaila

    I feel like there’s a way to acknowledge unsolicited advice and take it into account, but also to politely tell the advisor that you’ve made the decision on the purchase (or whatever) based on YOUR circumstances and you don’t need their “help”. I only offer advice if someone is actively asking though, otherwise I just try to stay out of it.

  23. dylan

    I enjoy talking about my finances openly so i may get some feedback, both positive and negative…. weighing out the info and try to make better choices for my investments and personal spending styles. I really do not like to hear anything my mother writes about my spending habits, she is forever accusing me of being cheap, inconsiderate and according to her I’m just plain rude because I do not buy her gifts like my other siblings do. I buy her groceries and pay for her meals out when she dines with me but it is true, I do not enjoy buying gifts because I do not like STUFF in her house or in anyone’s house…. this is my only financial sore point, being my MOM, drives me nutz-soooooo :) and I’d like to learn how to make her stop hounding me ….any suggestions ?

    1. studentdebtsurvivor.com

      That’s tough Dylan. Fortunately my parents are pretty frugal so they “get it”. Maybe gently reminding mom that you love helping her buy groceries and really enjoy the time you spend together over dinners out. Or if she’s a little pushy and you feel it’s safe to push back, you could ask her if you should continue to buy her groceries, of if she’d rather have a bracelet (fill in one of the “gifts” she claims you don’t buy) instead.

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