Don’t Be a Sheep When it Comes to Your Finances

It is natural that people disagree about personal finance decisions and even investing strategies.  Some people are comfortable with 5 year ARMs, 10 year AMRs, balance transfers, margin accounts, index investing, following Graham like he was the second coming, whole life insurance, etc. While some people think credit cards are the devil’s tool, that active mutual funds are the only way to get ahead, that any investing in the stock market is lunacy, that real estate is the only key to becoming a high net worth individual.  I like to say that everything in life has its pros and cons otherwise it wouldn’t exist.  Regardless of what you “believe” or follow there is one type of person that makes my head spin…this person isn’t a bull, a bear or even a pig…it is a sheep.  Sheep are known to follow a leader and flock together with a very strong herd mentality.  When someone acts in a particular way because someone they perceive as smarter they are a sheep and there is no room in personal finance for sheep.

Make Logical Decisions that YOU Believe are Best for YOU

There are some things that I do that some people think are extreme like buying whole life insurance on my child, but for the most part I follow a middle of the road approach in almost money decision in my life:

Regardless of the decision I make I usually have a logical and thought out decision for doing so; hell, I need one if I am going to write a post on it.  That being said I think this is what makes me and most people with somewhat control over their lives different. It annoys me when I speak to people, especially through this blog or other blogs, that have no idea why they are doing something.

They “believe” index funds are the best thing ever, but can’t handle a simple rebuttal OR if they believe that someone should have NO DEBT EVER but then make an exception for schooling without even asking if the person is majoring in a bullshit major that will never be able to pay back the loans.

I get there are no easy answers when it comes to personal finances or everyone would do the same exact thing, but you should at least know why you are doing something. Actually the question of why is starting to pick up steam in an area of social science known as Behavioral Economics.

While you might not know why your risk tolerance is a bit above an 87 year old grandma like mine without intense psychoanalysis, at least I can make a logical reasoning why I do certain things based on the knowledge that my risk tolerance is that low.

That type of knowledge is both inspiring and powerful. 

Are you a financial sheep?

30 Responses to Don’t Be a Sheep When it Comes to Your Finances

    • Consider you have the words Sunk Costs in the title of your site – there is NO WAY you don’t consider the logic behind your decisions.

      I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT!

  1. That’s why advertising is so effective…sheep. Can’t wait to see who becomes president. We’re all sheep following whomever spends the most cash….

    I don’t think I could be a sheep and a blogger at the same time…I’m too opinionated to follow.

    • I don’t think most personal finance bloggers are sheep, because they have to write posts about the subject. That isn’t to say they don’t exist (the Suze or Dave lovers usually fall into the category).

  2. I’m not a sheep – the thing that I think is most important isnt even up there – skills! The more you can do at home, the less you’ll pay for!

  3. Ya know, it’s really rude and disrespectful to refer to “bullshit majors” as if there is only a place in the world for computer programmers and doctors. Many majors you deem as bullshit do have worth, whether you are capable of seeing that or not. I majored in Comparative Literature, something I’m sure you would deem to be a “bullshit” major. However, I can work in publishing. I can work as an editor. I could work for a magazine. My major offers many potential career paths, but people close their ears the second I say what it is because they are uneducated about what I studied. This is their ignorance and nothing more. Don’t be like those people.

    As for buying life insurance for your child…eh. I really can’t say it’s a delightful thing. I guess if you have to, you have to.

    • C,

      Of course, it is someone else’s fault…those evil men who see your resume and are just too stupid to understand your skills.

      When I say bullshit majors I should probably have clarified – it isn’t the major’s fault as something like CompLit probably sets you up with some AMAZING skills. It is that I feel (read: no research behind) that those coming out with those types of degrees have a harder time expressing their marketable skills.

      Let us put aside everything I just said and ask the simple question -how could it be those evil men that are holding you down when you don’t even have a resume and ditched out on the employment agency that was set up to help you? (http://endinginsanity.blogspot.com/2012/01/well.html).

      I am happy you started a blog as I know it did wonders for me, personally, keeping myself accountable to anyone that was reading it.

      • So you read. Why don’t you comment?

        No, I don’t have a resume. I don’t think anyone is going to be impressed that I worked at Walmart and a lot of shitty food service jobs. Funny how that works.

        I did not “ditch out” on the employment agency. I didn’t go there today but plan to this week.

        When did I say anything about evil men? You’re just putting words in my mouth.

        It’s rude to refer to other people’s areas of study as bullshit.

        • Of course I read it! I was excited to see that you started a blog.

          I didn’t comment because I didn’t want to get into my utter disbelief that you spent 40% of your monthly income on a non-necessary flat screen.

          In the end you’d end up justifying the purchase when that money could have used to pay back some of your creditors (family or otherwise) or built up an emergency fund.

          • You’re right. It’s okay to tell me that, you know. I know it was stupid, and a waste of money. That’s the point. To admit I’m not perfect, not a financial genius, and I make stupid decisions. I don’t justify it at all. I bought it because it feels good to buy things, in my life where there’s not much else to feel good about. Don’t know if you noticed or not but I said I buy things to fill several voids.

            And besides, how else am I going to watch shows to escape my life? lol.

            I don’t think I said anywhere that it was a smart purchase.

            Course, living with my mom also helps a bit. Otherwise I wouldn’t get away with that crap…

  4. C – I was where you were at many years ago with a major that, surprise, didn’t seem to translate into a job. I had the same ideas as you, “I CAN go do x, y or z!” Can is only good if someone will hire you for said thing. Looking back I really wish I had stayed in school a year longer to double major in something more useful. I don’t regret my degree (it informed me and was tremendously satisfying) but I do regret not pursuing something that would have made me more employable. I think college students have a tendency to overestimate pursuing their passions and underestimate the enjoyment of a middle class salary.

    • Such a good freaking attitude Alex. What was your degree? what are you doing with it today?

      I know so many people who graduated with XYZ degree that became employed in something entirely unrelated (and are thriving).

  5. Does it make me a sheep to not actively manage my portfolio, instead choosing to put most of my investments in index funds and target retirement funds? Probably, but I also don’t have to spend all of my time trying to time the market.

  6. If you are not acquiring new skills each an every year you will find yourself unemployable. No longer can an employee assume his employer has their best interests in mind.

  7. One idea I’ve been exploring recently is that a big part of the middle class ethos is “make no financial decisions”. You’re handed a set of pre-packaged decisions, and sort of expected to just follow them. Problem is, those decisions are getting pretty old school. They worked great in 1965, but work less great now.

    Unfortunately I see the financial blogsphere mostly trying to update the list of decisions (ie. ETFs driving out managed products)rather than questioning why you need a fixed list in the first place. Maybe the answer to ETF vs. managed is “it depends” (mostly on who’s doing the managing).

  8. Nice topic. Sheep don’t get anywhere in finance or much else. To get ahead, you have to use your brain and have an argument why you think doing things this way would benefit you.

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