Thursday, January 4, 2007

Oh, you're teaching Common Sense!

I'm in a local bookstore searching through the Personal Finance section. It's a rather large section so I stand there for a good 30 minutes scanning every book, trying to find one that will cover many of the items that my clients need help with. No luck. I find books on how to get rich quick (or slow), how to invest in the stock market, and how to save for retirement/college education. But these aren't the questions, we need answers to.

"What do I do right now if I don't have enough money to pay my bills?"

"Paying taxes, how does that work?"

"What does it mean to balance a checkbook? Do I need to?"

I have clients of all incomes and backgrounds, and these are the questions they don't ask, but need to.

Most people have to deal with basics of managing their personal finances, but we don't do anything to educate ourselves in these areas. It's assumed that our parents will teach us, or the information is so simple, that we'll just figure it out when we need to. As a result, we've created a whole generation of people who believe this information is common sense.

The more serious issue is that because we all believe this is common sense, we're not asking to be educated. And we, as a culture, have developed a real sense of embarrassment around this topic. If we write out a check incorrectly, or forget to pay the electric bill one month, we don't talk about it. We berate ourselves for not knowing better, and try to do better next time.

Education is the key.