In previous posts about lifestyle design, I talked about choosing where you live and choosing what you do. A recent podcast on NPR Planet Money talked about choosing college majors. If you already graduated and got settled down in a career path and a place to live, those are a little hard to change, although many people do move and change fields. I did both myself.
In this post I’m going to talk about something much easier to pull off: choose what you know.
In a thread on the Bogleheads investment forum, poster hoops777 related to how many people interested in personal finance forget that many others are not interested or knowledgeable about the very basics.
I was a coach for a long time and I was shocked that my wife did not even know what a ball or strike was or a free throw. I was so involved in it that it was shocking to me that a person could have no interest or exposure to sports.
I can say I know a lot more about money and personal finance than many others. At the same time I’m blatantly ignorant of many things, especially when it comes to pop culture.
I know the difference between a ball and a strike; that’s about it. I don’t know how many players are on the field. I know what’s a free throw but I don’t know when you get a free throw and when you get to throw in from the sideline, or when you get two free throws regardless and when you get the second free throw only if you make the first one.
I’m OK with not knowing those things. If I must know I will look them up.
I never watched Star Trek. I haven’t been in a movie theater for years. I’m just now watching Grey’s Anatomy on DVDs. I’m on Season 4, which first aired in 2007. The Sopranos will be next.
I’m OK with being years behind. It makes me awkward in some conversations because I don’t get the reference. I can live with that.
But ask me about bank accounts, credit cards, insurance, mortgages, mutual funds, ETFs, taxes, 401k, IRA, … now we are talking. I didn’t know any of those in the beginning. When I came to this country in my 20’s I didn’t know what a checking account was. I had to learn. I had to choose what to learn. As you see there are still so many things I haven’t learned after all these years.
Not having had a personal finance class in high school isn’t an excuse. It’s always a choice. You choose what you know. $10 buys you a used book that tells you most everything you need to know. It puts you well above average. We all have limited time. You choose to invest your time in what matters.
[Photo credit: Flickr user zebble]
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George Love says
Wonderful post and I agree, we should make sure that what we know is things that matter and while sports are great, knowing how to invest and set oneself up for a comfortable retirement, even more important.
Sam Seattle says
Harry, like you, I haven’t been in the movie theater for years, either. I’m also awkward in some conversations, because I don’t get the cultural reference. Reading your interesting blog and keeping up-to-date on personal finance is more enjoyable than watching TV.
Is your “recommended reading list” still up-to-date? It’s hard to sort out the good books from the bad.
Totally agree. Learning to choose well is one of the greatest skills in life that is mastered throughout life – and needs to be taught as early as possible. I only acquired this perspective into my adulthoood – but wish I knew the concept earlier in life.
Why did you choose to watch Grey’s Anatomy, out of all of the shows you could have watched in 2013? Had you already seen The Wire and/or Breaking Bad?
Harry Sit says
Because I don’t like shows with acts of violence. I think I watched one episode of both The Wire and Breaking Bad before I abandoned them.
Fair enough. Also I was unaware that Grey’s anatomy has won multiple awards and critics’ praise. The only bad news is, you can’t finish it and move on to other shows for at least two more years.
Sam Seattle says
LOL. This post was from 2013 and here we are, 6 years later, still there are readers commenting on it. This shows yr posts are timeless, Harry. Great! By the way, did you finish watching Grey’s? And did you continue w Sopranos, as planned? Just curious.
Harry Sit says
I don’t think choosing what you know will ever become outdated. I watched several seasons of Grey’s Anatomy before I moved on to something else. Sopranos is still on the back burner. Movies and shows can wait.
Sam Seattle says
I agree, Harry. Movies and shows can definitely wait.
Andrew Walsh says
These remarks are an aside related to your comment on choosing not to follow sports, pop culture, etc. After having followed sports for many years, I finally broke the habit when I retired and I have to say I don’t miss it at all. Pop culture is something I have never really been interested in following. As far as TV shows are concerned, my wife & I watch streamed movies & TV via subscriptions to Amazon Prime & a Netflix subscription shared w/ another family member. If you don’t care for acts of violence, you may want to reconsider watching the Sopranos. And for sure stay as far away as possible from the most recent pop culture craze here in the US, Game of Thrones. Back when we had a free years worth of HBO as part of a promotion, my wife & I began watching GOT. We found it to be just jam packed w/ violence & other highly offensive content & subject matter. We stopped watching it altogether.
I just subscribed to The Finance Buff.
I am a German living in Vegas since 2015. First thing I did in that year was to complete a tax preparer course so that I am able to do my own taxes. That was my choice of “what to know” in that year. Since then I continued to learn about banking, finance and investing to be able to make other informed choices.