Because You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I have discussed why comparing yourself to others based on your income is a terrible way to judge your self-worth. There I listed some barriers people have when talking honestly about money; things like feeling self-conscious about how much they make or not wanting others to feel bad about their own income level. Like everything in life, discretion is needed to judge with whom you are speaking and the type of conversation you should have. There needs to be a balance to how much you talk about money. You can talk about it too much (I’ll admit I might fall into this category) but I also think you can talk about it too little as well.

The right kind of talk

Now, I am not talking about meaningless boasting on how well your stocks did this quarter or the great deal you got on a new furniture set. I’m talking about openly discussing the principles you base your financial decisions on and how you are implementing them in your current situation. The danger is that if we only keep to ourselves on important issues like money, we can get into a self-feedback loop where we think everything we are doing is right when in fact it might be totally errant. If we haven’t given anyone a chance to tell us otherwise, we risk digging ourselves into a bigger and bigger hole until its one we can no longer climb out of.

Model the professionals

In the professional world, engineers are tasked to protect public safety at all times. To catch any mistakes they make, they often have a colleague check their work on any important design decisions. They know that if they design something wrong, a roof might collapse, or a power plant could go offline or someone’s drinking water may become contaminated. Since any of these mistakes could harm a lot of people, engineers ensure the necessary checks are in place so nothing slips by. Each of us is human and fallible. We make errors and forget to consider important things all the time. Simply put, without outside checks, it is very difficult for us to know what we have missed, or that we have even missed it at all until it is too late. In some cases, like those observed by psychology researchers Dunning and Kruger, not knowing what we don’t know can actually make us feel superior and over-confident in the limited knowledge and skills we do have. Tweet!  This overconfidence, the thinking we already know all the answers, if left unchecked can lead us to make some pretty big mistakes, especially when it comes to dealing with our money.

Open up the topic

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
-Proverbs 11:14, ESV-

Whether due to self-worth issues, not understanding the complicated math equations, or just general disinterest, some of us really do not want to talk about money. Unfortunately our money gets wrapped up in almost everything we do. Any mistakes we make will impact the people in our lives; especially our families who will then have to make sacrifices, work harder or even bail us out of a mess. Financial problems also take an emotional toll on our own well being by adding stress and anxiety to our lives. As the Proverb above says, the best way to avoid these mistakes is to ensure you are getting good guidance.

Where to find those counselors

This starts with God’s word and knowing the good financial principles written in it. Of course you could keep reading posts on BibleCents too! However, what I want to encourage you to do today is to have trusted and responsible people in your life with whom you can have candid conversations about your personal finances. These could be relatives, friends, financial advisors or even pastors. Pick people with the right balance between being close enough to care about your well being, but detached enough to not be directly influenced by your decisions. That way they can give you honest, unbiased counsel. Sometimes you can’t find one individual who fits all those traits, which is why the Bible suggests having “an abundance of counselors” as each will be able to provide important feedback to you from a different perspective. Most importantly, pick people who have a track record of living out God’s word in their own finances so you can learn and grow in financial wisdom and not the opposite.

 

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