Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

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Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by reboundstudent on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:36 am

In addition to trying to weight less, I've always started trying to get a lot more hardcore on my budget (because I am a masochist, apparently.) I've been reading tons of financial advice articles and blogs, trying to figure out how to budget, and what to make a financial priority, and whether or not to invest (I have a matching 401k through work but wonder if I should invest, say, $50 a month to try to find some way to generating more wealth.)

However, most of the articles and blogs I find just make me feel hopeless or brimming with rage. The articles are filled with advice that just seems flat-out unrealistic, like living at home with parents to save on rent (how many people have a profitable job in the same city their folks live in, and have parents willing to let them do that?), or have 9 months worth of bills in your savings (are you nuts?!) or the classic 50-30-20 rule. Going through my budget, my breakdown is more like 60 (fixed) due to car payment, rent, utilities (already canceled cable), and student loans, with 20 towards goals (car payment, loans, credit cards), and yet I'm still just scraping by.

Have you guys found any decent financial advice that doesn't seem to assume you're either 1) making an above average income (I'm at 51k, and articles seem to assume 75k or above as the base) or 2) able to be dependent on partners/partners/other forms of income? What sort of finance advice has worked for you? Do you invest outside of your 401k?

Thanks!
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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:48 am

I don't have any good sources of advice, just empathy. I remember back when I was young and super-broke (2 people living on 20k in Los Angeles) and I'd read advice on how to manage your budget, and it would say things like "if you skip your morning Starbucks, you can save $1300 a year" and I'd be like, "Starbucks? by the end of the month I'm counting nickels to make sure I have bus fare to work and you talk to me about Starbucks?"

Financial advice tends to be so narrow, assuming only people in a tiny range of incomes and life circumstances would read it. Jedi hugs.
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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by Enail on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:33 pm

Yepp, I can't stand that kind of advice. When I had a not-amazing-but-wayyyyyy-above-poverty income and a pretty low rent for my area, I spent half my income on rent alone.  That's not at all unusual where I am (I think 40% of renters is the number I've seen, and this is not a place where owning is a viable alternative to renting).

In my case, I did spend fairly freely on food and entertainment, so it's not like I didn't know where to cut if I wanted to save more (though I most definitely did not have that "skip your morning Starbucks" kind of money floating around anywhere in my budget). But when fixed expenses are as large a percentage of income as they are for a lot of people, there just isn't a lot of wiggle-room to work with. Which makes a lot of financial advice read as patronizing and useless.

Some of the advice that does acknowledge that you may not be spending thousands a year on Starbucks still tends to assume that you live the kind of life that people who could spend that much on Starbucks do.  Even when I am actually in the rather small target group of people who don't make a lot of money but have ample free time, health, better-off family members, live in a convenient area and start off with a fully stocked pantry and some savings, I get very annoyed by how easy the chipper tone makes it out to be.

Like, if you live in a food desert, making all your food from scratch isn't a realistic option, and people who are working three jobs to get by probably don't have the time to shop around at three fruit stands and four grocery stores and a bulk barn for the best prices, people who do late-night shift work can't always safely save on transportation by walking or biking, people who are disabled can't save on buying in bulk if they can't carry it... and so forth. Sometimes those are still the best suggestions available, and sometimes they can be done, but it'd be a lot less irritating if they didn't talk like those kinds of options are easy and fun experiments that you can take pretty photos and blog about.
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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by eselle28 on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:49 pm

I generally ignore those shows and those columns. They were the same ones that told everyone to put all their savings into stocks a year before the market crashed. My housing is 50% of my monthly budget and will be more now that my income has been reduced. My housing choices have also been among the few in my area that allow me to have pets, which has - if I'm feeling a bit dramatic - sort of saved my life in the past when I've had mental health crises. I generally find financial tips from people who I know to be more useful than the mass market ones. "Amazon prime is cheaper than buying cat food at Walmart" or "Maybe instead of going out we can take turns cooking at home" are useful suggestions for me. Some of the more homogenized ones I see are considerably less so.
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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by caliseivy on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:53 pm

Going by your post, RBS, I'm suspecting that you already know about the site Get Rich Slowly but if you don't, there it is. I don't find many of the posts useful because of that "just skip starbucks/vacation cheaper this year" mentality they have, but I've managed to gather smaller advice and adapt to my situation, like the debt payment strategies. I've mostly had to do the budgeting myself via loan calculators I googled and budget sheets I've put together myself in Excel.

I hated financial advice because it's all got that monetary cutoff, like, anyone under X amount of earnings a year doesn't need advice on budgeting or anything, and everyone above just needs to cut back on all the frivolous spending they do. Or once in awhile you see a post on a financial blog about someone who's cut to the absolute minimum, and then the advice is "easy, just get a second job" or "start selling the things you don't need on [site]" which, isn't helpful when you're living with the minimum necessities.

As far as investing though, I do recall Get Rich Slowly doing two or three posts about how to get started investing and whether you should. Maybe those would be worth taking a look at if that's what you're considering.
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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by Xexyz on Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:11 pm

I feel similar to others here; I find most financial advice worthless. So much of it seems to make a bunch of significant assumptions about your situation, "You can save X on childcare expenses by doing Y" "I don't have any kids, idiot". Or else it's just a bunch of useless bragging, "I saved money by doing this trick" "That's great, how about you tell us how the trick works, dick?"

On the other hand, I've always had a natural feel for budgeting/finance; I don't actually bother keeping a budget, I just check my balances every couple of weeks to make sure nothing's out of sort. The one thing I did several years ago that I felt was useful was to go through my bank statements over a period of several months to find out exactly where I was spending my money; since I pay for almost everything by either credit or debit card I was able to get a near 100% picture of literally every dollar. That came in handy when I lost my job last August because I knew exactly where I was able to trim the excess spending until I got employed again.

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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:25 pm

Financial advice in a nutshell:


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Re: Anybody Else Hate Reading Financial Advice?

Post by reboot on Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:57 pm

Only financial advice I follow is from articles in the Economist, but it is not the "How to Save for Retirement" sort. More the, "Actively managed funds do not outperform the market over the long term, despite investment bankers saying they can because they make $$ whether or not clients lose money. Index funds are cheaper and track the market and better bets for pension funds." and then a bunch on how these things work.

I have some savings since I am 40+ and finished college when you could just about get through college and grad school without loans. Being born in the baby bust had its benefits.
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