Perception vs Reality: Everybody is making it

We certainly live in a society in which perceptions seem more important than substance. College degrees are getting acquired not for their knowledge, but because they are allegedly a status symbol. For instance, in most of Europe higher education is effectively for free for EU citizens, but there are private universities too, which charge a significant amount of money for a fancy piece of paper. As a consequence, you’ll nowadays find people walking around telling others about their “20,000 Euro degree”. A product is supposedly better because it is more expensive. Well, the content of most degrees can be acquired for free. Getting that piece of paper, on the other hand, is largely a matter of jumping through the hoops of university administrators. Heck, the willingness to jump through hoops will arguably take you farther than genuine intellectual interest in most disciplines.

Considering how much people are fixated on appearances, it may not come as much of a surprise that most do not live up to the image they project. The phenomenon of the “$30,000 millionaire” is known. Things are a lot worse than that, apparently. Just like we have droves of people with “degrees” that are completely useless, we also have droves of people who just can’t handle money. Well, that’s not so bad, considering that one particular political party wants people to depend on the state, and the other wants them to be ardent consumers. Financially illiterate Susan will be screwed almost no matter what.

But now look at the following article: 62% of Americans Have Under $1,000 in Savings, Survey Finds. Even worse, 86% have less than $10,000 saved up. (Yes, I am aware that this study is most likely not representative.) How many of those people have fancy smart phones, expensive laptops, live in a MacMansion, or drive a car they bought new?

You may wonder what, if anything, this has to do with meeting chicks. Well, this blog isn’t exclusively concerned with that topic, so that objection doesn’t hold anyway. That being said, many women are big spenders and have very little money saved up (just like men). Judging from my experience, hazardous spending habits are much more often to be found among women than men, though, and if men are in financial trouble, it is often due to the spending habits of their wives and girlfriends (and those guys being fucking idiots), or alimony and child support payments. If you want your financial future to be more secure, a good first step would be to not get involved with women who spend well above their means. A cynic may add that your finances would be even more stable if you just didn’t get involved with women at all, which is true as well.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, but keep the comment policy in mind.
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4 thoughts on “Perception vs Reality: Everybody is making it

  1. Saving money really isn’t wise in this day and age when you consider that the value of money , especially the US Dollar, keeps dropping and interest rates have been kept around 0% for years. Not to mention the amount you’re required to pay in taxes on savings when you take distributions.

    I think the smartest thing would be to always have an income stream, whether it be from a job, a business or from an investment.

    1. In times of ZIRP or even NIRP, saving will at best conserve money if you keep it at the bank. However, building a solid nest egg isn’t something you should easily dismiss. Compare someone who spends everything he earns with someone who is able to, for each month he works, save enough money to live off for another month. Inflation is very low these days, too, so it’s not at all unlikely that even this rather timid approach to financial planning will work out well enough. Besides, if you don’t have any savings you don’t have any agency. You could go down the emasculating route and live off government handouts, or take a job you don’t really want because you need to pay the bills. Had you saved up some money, you’d find it a lot easier to move, retrain, interview with more companies, or even take some time out to volunteer or follow a passion project.

  2. Real wage growth in most western countries has been basically flat over the last three of decades, and we have also had a sustained period of low interest rates, which has allowed a lot of north American households to build up a lot of debt. So, while low savings is a problem, and a lot of people make financially illiterate decisions, structurally it is pretty tough for most people to put aside a lot of money.

  3. Very true. Every girlfriend I ever had wanted to incur into foolish expenses that I could barely afford, if at all. Eg dining out all the time, holiday in Brazil, shopping for clothes, whatever.

    Back in my college days I would often skip lunch and go hungry just to save a few more bucks to spend on a date with my then girlfriend. I know better now.

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