7 Billion Stories in Personal Finance...and Counting - Jacquette M. Timmons

You know that friend you have, whom you love dearly, but who drives you CRAZY because each time you talk you eventually travel down a familiar road. You know, the one where s/he complains about the same old thing?

When the conversation pivots to this topic, you partially tune out because:

a) s/he is rehashing the same details, and

b) despite your advice, which they’ve requested, they never listen.

Your frustration most likely stems more from your feeling like the details of their situation never seem to evolve – because, well, they don’t seem to have evolved in this area. Your friend is stuck; you can see it clearly; they can’t.

You want to shake them and say, “you just don’t get it…do you?

If you can relate to this, you just might be able to understand Tess Vigeland’s feelings regarding the relationship between people’s questions and actions and the tenets of personal finance.

For eleven years, Tess hosted NPRs “Marketplace and Marketplace Money.”

Before I go any further, you need to know that while I’ve never met Tess in person, she holds a special place in my heart.

She kicked off the media blitz for my book, “Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate.” Tess was my very first official book interview, interviewing me in September of 2009 – a full month before my book pub’s date. While I had done a lot of TV and phone interviews and some radio, it was the first time I was in a radio studio with all the fancy-dancy equipment.

Thanks to the PR department of Chicago Review Press, my publisher, speaking with Tess, whose voice I had listened to for years (it’s no secret that I’m a self-described “NPR-head”), was a dream (goal) come true!

Back to Tess

Tess is no longer a constant voice of “Marketplace Money” – a national personal finance program. She’s no longer interviewing “politicians, authors, and celebrities” as a way of helping nearly nine million people just like you understand business and economics. She no longer uses this platform as a way of providing tips, ideas, and strategies on how best to manage your money.

She’s moved on from Marketplace for many reasons. But one of them is one I thought you might find interesting because it’s reminiscent of that crazy friend of yours: She had grown weary of having the same old conversation week after week after week. In her own words:

“…Partly I was tired of the subject I covered week in and week out. There are about six stories in personal finance and I told them over and over and over again and got to the point where I wanted to reach through the radio, take listeners by the shoulders and say don’t you get it?! Don’t spend more than you save! That’s it! I told you this last week! And the week before that! Do I really I have to tell you again this week?!“

The above is taken from a speech she gave at the World Domination Summit, an event I plan to one day attend. And when I first read it, I smiled because I TOTALLY understood where she was coming from.

But then I remembered the obvious isn’t always obvious to the person who needs insight (or help) the most!

A Short List of Money Tenets – aka Obvious Money To-Dos

  • Of course you know not to spend more than you earn.
  • Of course you know not to confuse your gross pay with your net pay.
  • Of course you know the power of paying yourself first.
  • Of course you know to save, and if you have access to a 401k or 403b you should maximize that opportunity and at least contribute to the match.
  • Of course you know it isn’t prudent to forsake investing in stocks for the presumed safety of holding cash.
  • Of course you’ve heard of the “Rule of 72.”
  • Of course you know you should ensure your investment portfolio is diversified – aka don’t have everything in one basket.
  • Of course you know that if you use a credit card, you should pay the balance off in full each month.
  • Of course you know it’s important to keep your debt load in check.
  • If you have children, of course you know it’s better to prioritize the savings and planning for your retirement over saving and planning for your child’s/children’s college education.

The tenets of personal finance are pretty darn standard. And the presumption is that if you do X, Y will happen.

If only the emotional math were as straight-forward as (1+1=2).

If money were just about the numbers, then you’d only need to hear and heed the above money tenets (along with a few others) once and you’d be good to go.

If money were just about the numbers you can always control, then every time you made the right choice you’d get the desired result.

If money were just about the numbers, then you’d never find yourself in the crazy friend category with someone wanting to shake you and say, “you just don’t get it…do you?” (Admit it, you’re the crazy friend, sometimes! 🙂

But some things get in the way of “getting it.”

People didn’t always hear Tess because, sadly, most people only pay attention when they are in pain. Being preventive is usually an after-thought.

People didn’t always hear Tess because, sadly, they’ve gotten used to some of her media peers who aren’t too interested in having a deeper conversation about money. Some folks not only need multiple touch points, but they also need more than a 3-minute segment in which to digest the message.

People didn’t always hear Tess because, rightly, they got tired of being made to feel guilty or ashamed of past financial decisions and the ramifications thereof, by the personal finance talking heads. As a result, some people half-listened to what she had to share.

I miss Tess’ voice, sense of humor, and direct-interviewing approach. And if money were just about the numbers, I would agree with her…there would be just “about six stories in personal finance.” If money were just about the numbers, I could easily see myself making a similar choice as her.

To me, just talking about the rules of money through the prism of the numbers IS boring! If that’s what my career (which really feels more like a life-calling) and this writing space was based on, I, too, would have a ‘gag me with spoon moment.’

I, too, would feel depleted from having the same conversation over and over and over again – one that ultimately concludes with the sentiment: You. Just. Don’t. Get it. Do You?

However…

You and I may certainly discuss the same topics from week to week (money, choices, and relationships). And the road may feel familiar. But it is filled with the nuances, twists and turns that make up your story, my story, and the story of others – stories that are both personal & universal.

As such, I don’t believe we’re having the same conversation each time we connect. In fact, I believe the conversations you and I get to have are nearly endless! What say you?

Let me know…click the above “leave a comment” link and let’s keep the conversation going!

p.s. could your “crazy” friend need some help in the realm of money? If so, why not suggest s/he schedule a “Financial Quickie” – a complimentary, 15-minute call designed to answer just one pressing question (or two) – with me. Share this link with them and you’ll decrease the likelihood of them coming to you with the same conversation week after week after week (wink, wink)!

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