Financially Inconsistent: Saying One Thing, Doing Another

by TTMK on January 3, 2015 · 5 comments

financially_inconsistentDo as I say, not as I do

Well, that doesn’t quite apply to me, at least in terms of money.   But it sure does for some people.

I’m sure you’ve seen them, or might know someone like that. They might claim to be one thing, but actually be another. Meaning, they put on a good show by displaying impressive material goods, but in reality they just don’t have a whole lot of money saved.

In other cases, which I’m particularly thinking of as I write this, there are some people who claim to be frugal. However, their actions don’t line up with what they say.

“Watching those dollars”, Yet Dining Out Frequently

I have a longtime buddy who at this point is more of a Facebook friend. As a side note, I’m not a Facebook-addicted person – I check it every few days. Anyway, I’ve known him for several decades, but with life being busy and him living relatively far from me, we don’t meet up as often these days.

Anyway, I did trade messages with him recently, and he mentioned how he has been really been “watching those dollars” lately. As in, he was trying to cut back after dealing with some recent personal setbacks.

While I of course don’t want anyone to deal with setbacks, I was happy to read the part about saving money. That’s a good thing!

However, I’ve noticed what appears to be a regular frequency of him “checking in” (or whatever the relevant term is) when he’s at a restaurant. This seems to be a constant thing for him, and I get the feeling he eats out all the time. Beyond that, those places don’t seem to be super healthy either.

He says one thing, but does another.

Super Saver – Except for Shoes, That Is

One person I knew years ago, as an acquaintance, took pride in being a super frugal person. She was otherwise a fun yet somewhat high strung individual, with some intense quirks, but the frugal part seemed pretty reasonable to me if nothing else.

Anyway, she would claim leftover (untouched excess food, of course) food from office meetings, and take it home to eat later. Her claim was that she could spend under $100 on food each month, through her frugal ways.

Additionally, she always seemed to have a good handle on airline miles, and scoring free or low-cost trips – when she truly needed to travel, anyway. She also appeared to be very skilled at using coupons or deals for any type of entertainment or other purchases.

In short, she appeared to be quite driven to save money. And she also stated a goal to retire before turning 40.   That sounded impressive.

Then came the random shoe discussion. I had brought up the idea of how I might buy a couple of pairs of shoes per year, tops. She seemed shocked, and wondered aloud how men could get away with that.

Okay, so I get that women have very legitimate needs for more shoes than money. Not trying to be judgmental in anyway, I asked her how many shoes she buys in year. She mentioned that she gets one.

I thought I misheard her, so to clarify I said something like “you mean one per month, right?” Even then, my thinking was “wow, 12 per year seems like a bit much”.

Actually, it wasn’t even one per month. What she really meant was one pair of new shoes per week!

Yes, we’re talking about one pair of shoes per week. As in, 52 for the year, if you take that literally.

The reasoning is that as a single lady, she needed to have that many shoes. I didn’t quite understand it, and don’t like to judge, but I can’t see how anyone with an office job needs over 50 new pairs of shoes per year. It’s not like being in a cube or office will wear out those shoes!

Think about it – after 4 years, that will mean 200 pairs of shoes purchased.   And I’m sure these weren’t cheap shoes either, judging by the way she talked about them.

It all came together at that moment. Rather than truly embracing and succeeding at frugality, she was really just spending far less in one area so she could splurge in another.

What Do You Do With Such People?

My first instinct is to go into personal finance mode, and tell them why they’re making mistakes. Not just tell, but I want to emphatically plead with them to take a very different approach and actually do what they know to be the smarter thing to do. Because, frankly, I know that they’re smart enough to see it but have clearly just gotten into some bad habits.

Do you know what I actually say, though?

Nothing. Or, at least next to nothing.

I keep my mouth shut, because I don’t want to overstep my bounds and lecture anyone. Not many people would like that. So I just listen quietly, and perhaps joke for a moment, and leave it alone. Maybe my brief teasing makes the point enough without making things uncomfortable. Then the subject is changed.

That being said, I hope they find this blog (or other personal finance blogs) and read about actually following through on good money decisions!

My Questions for You

Have you heard anyone say one thing, but do another when it comes to money?

How do you handle these situations? Do you point anything out to them, or do you stay quiet?

Are there any times when you’re financially inconsistent?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle January 3, 2015 at 10:14 am

I keep my nose out of other people’s financials unless they are specifically asking for help.

Reply

Gary @ Super Saving Tips January 4, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Yes, I’ve heard various people say one thing and do another financially. Most of the time I say nothing because if they really wanted to hear what I have to say, they’d ask. If they’re very close to me, I might make a suggestion or two, but unless they seem eager for more I leave it at that. The question of whether I’m financially inconsistent is an interesting one. On the outside it might look that way sometimes, but I think it’s about being consistent with your values. You might choose to spend more in one particular area that’s important to you as long as you can afford to do so.

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Jon @ Money Smart Guides January 5, 2015 at 6:15 am

To me, your finances are all about you and I don’t offer my two cents unless it is asked. The one thing I will mention though is that with most people, we don’t know the whole story. While buying a new pair of shoes every week is excessive to me, if that person is never eating out, doesn’t have cable, etc and isn’t going into debt over it, then how bad is it? I know some people that travel all of the time. They can afford to do so because they drive old used cars, haven’t bought new work clothes in years and don’t have cable. They cut back in other areas to afford the travel. Not saying that is the case in the examples you point out, but it is a possibility.

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TTMK January 6, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Good points, we often don’t know the whole story. In the case of the shoe shopper, I think that part ended up being the rest of the story 🙂

Reply

Little House January 12, 2015 at 8:34 am

I also don’t say anything to anyone when it comes to finances unless they ask for advice. I’m not an expert by any means when it comes to being frugal in all areas, but I know plenty of people who think they are frugal, but only really in one or two areas. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not really my business because I don’t know the whole story.

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