Face to Face with Inequality

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Good with Money

I always thought that anybody might want financial advice, not only people with bulging money bags, but people with flat wallets. Folks with modest means might perhaps like more assistance?

Not so. It’s just the wrong way to look at things. Everybody we’ve talked to in the FAIR Money project turns out to be really good with money, no matter the state of their finances. They might be exceptionally good at getting amazing deals. Or they have spreadsheet they faithfully track their expenses in, down to the very last penny. Or they really know how to negotiate government services. Or they always, always pay their bills on time. Without a doubt, these are higher-order skills seems to have at least one.

For sure, if you zoom out a little, you might see that the spreadsheet contains some outsize purchases (such as a two-inch Tasmanian devil charm paved in diamonds and onyx). You might notice that the bills got paid with a payday loan. That the grocery savings were blown completely out of the water by a visit to the casino. All true. And it’s true that it would be really helpful to zoom out before disaster strikes and you run out of options; true that thinking about what you’re good at could act as a smokescreen for the possibility that you’re heading for a financial abyss.

Nevertheless, it’s important to pause over the fact that competence is almost a given. It’s easy to point out where there might be shortcomings, but surely it’s more useful to start with the strengths and build from there. And maybe then advice could be more sought after.