Ask for a Financial Smack in the Head… NOW

by David Ning · 8 comments

The honest advice is difficult to hear, but it’s almost always the most useful.

For years, I was always a little too blunt. My mom told me that my brutal honesty affected my personal and professional relationships. It is a character flaw, and one that I’m still working on. It’s not that the advice is not genuine, but telling it exactly like it is can sometimes be disrespectful.

Giving the advice may make other’s faces cringe, but what about receiving genuine advice no matter how bad it sounds? Isn’t it appropriate to hear what others really think sometimes?

The Fastest Way to Fix Your Finances

We’ve seen it happen, and we will continue to see it forever. People fall into a financial trap but when they find out, they fall way behind (or in some cases, it’s too late to fix it).

It’s not what we know that hurts us. It’s not even what we don’t know that affects us the most. It’s what we know that turns out to be wrong that really kills us.

  • Are we too much in debt? What should we do to avoid living in decades of disastrous twilight years?
  • Are we really on the right track? Is our savings rate enough for retirement?
  • I’m debt free, but where should I put my money? I have savings, investments, retirement accounts and all, but what is the right mix? Do I really need to work until 65?

These are all good questions, but without someone to tell you what they honestly think, how would you know?

A Couple Options

Some of us are blessed with a support system already in place for us to talk comfortably about financial matters, but many of us don’t.

For the latter, here are some suggestions on where to find honest advice.

  • Parents/Kids – Not many people talk to their parents about finances, and that’s a shame. Communication allows everyone involved to get a better sense of the whole situation, and if actions are needed to prevent/fix a problem. Is the parents doing okay financially? Will there be money left over or should kids pitch in for the parent’s living expenses? Are the kids saving enough for their own retirement? These questions are sometimes difficult to talk about, but you are so much better off if you know the truth.
  • Life Partner – This sounds obvious, but I’m beginning to find that many couples never talk about money matters, which lead to more problems down the road. The two of you, whether you combine or separate your finances, should know exactly where you stand financially. Like it or not, you two are in it together, by law and by reality.
  • Financial Planners – Some are just advising on investment decisions, but many are actual planners who will give recommendations on improving your overall financial health. Unfortunately, the nature of the business requires that these people be salespeople too. Not so much to sell products but to sell their service, as someone who angers their clients probably won’t be doing too well. However, I would argue that the more upset you are after a typical meeting, the more you need to go back for another chat. Honestly is a rarity these days, and is worth paying for.

I left out friends on purpose because it’s very difficult to share finances with them unless everyone is on financially equal footing. The tendency to inflate/leave out/deflate important details is too great, and it will defeat the purpose and effectiveness of having the discussion in the first place.

There is beauty in white lies, but not being honest with your financial situation is as black as it can be.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith February 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

My boss told me once that he actually keeps employees who always seems like an asshole around because they are honest. He said it kept his ego in line because most people suck up too much and he’s never able to get a true gauge of his business.

Honesty works.

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Dan February 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

I highly recommend talking to your parents about your finances, as it’s one of the most neglected conversations most people have.

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Evan February 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

If it makes you feel better, and it might not I don’t see your blutness in your writing. I was actually told by someone that my posts are “slightly contentious” I was flattered hahahah

I have witnesses the failure of spouses to know their financial position IT IS A MESS, and worse it is a ticking time bomb.

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MoneyNing February 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm

It’s actually much easier in writing, since I can re-read what I wrote and edit it until the right message comes across.

I also think that since these aren’t aimed at anyone in particular, it’s also “harder” to be “in your face”.

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Cd Phi February 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Honestly, sometimes you have to be blunt with certain people or else they’ll never listen. Feelings get hurt in the beginning but if it’s truly for the better, they’ll thank you later on.

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Robert February 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Getting laid off is a good smack in the face, but unfortunately your money is gone with it.

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Bob February 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Great post, David. I discovered your site a few weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve never understood how couples, especially, aren’t blunt with each other about money. When life partners aren’t on the same page, I’ve seen over and over again how it leads to relationship problems and things can go terribly askew, in all areas of their lives.

Maybe “blunt” isn’t even the word, as much as “open” and “honest.” In any case, I agree with your sentiments here. Keep up the good work.

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hybrid1000 January 30, 2011 at 12:29 am

Sometimes it is impossible to be blunt with your partner when it comes to finances.
My partner is constantly complaining about our lack of money and the fact that we have huge debts and frequently asks the question “where has all the money gone?” but when i try to tell him where all the money has gone and try to explain that 1/3 of our money pays for HIS cigarettes, he starts screaming and shouting and refuses to believe a single word even though i have receipts to back up what i have said.
How can you be open and honest about finances and actually figure out a solution to your financial problems when faced with a partner who won’t listen and won’t help?

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