My parents and I have starkly different lifestyles and views on money. They are, for the most part spenders and I am a saver. They go out to eat at least 5 times a week, a habit that I used to adopt and am recovering from. The one thing that bugs me is that my parents are the sort of spenders that buy things that they don’t need, simply because it’s on sale. A couple years ago, I called home and my dad was so excited that they got a flat screen TV.
“But you already have two TV’s”, I said.
“I know. But this one is new, and it was 50% off!”
I just don’t understand this sort of splurge. But it makes them happy.
Also, as many of you know, I love to travel. Aside from financial independence, traveling is my biggest motivator in my debt payoff journey. My mom also wants to travel and we’ve talked many times about traveling together. My mom is in her fifties and has never left the country. For the past five years, I’ve encouraged her to travel, to start saving, and to get a passport. Finally, two years ago, she made the first step and got a passport. She still hasn’t gone anywhere yet!
A few years ago, when she did get her passport, we were out to dinner and I asked where she wanted to go and when. She said she wasn’t sure and that she didn’t have the money right now. Knowing how much they go out to eat and how much money she makes, I just didn’t understand. If I can afford to travel on a measly non-profit salary, why can’t you? So I pushed. I went on with my financial evangelism and proceeded to tell her that she should save more and go out less, and that she could afford it, if she really wanted to. Needless to say, she didn’t want to hear it and I made her pretty upset. I regret ruining a night out with my family, but I am left wondering if financial evangelism is ever ok? I was expressing my thoughts, although perhaps not at the most opportune moment. For those of us who have been converted to the gospel of personal finance, is it really our business to evangelize to non-believers? What do you do in situations like this? Keep your mouth shut? Since my incident with my mom, I’ve come across many situations with friends, where I desperately want to “save” them, talk to them about the power of saving, and frugality. However, I can’t do it. It’s not my place. Personal finance is personal, so if people want to go out to eat everyday or buy fancy gadgets, it’s none of my business. If they can’t pay rent, pay their credit card, and are constantly over-drafting their account, that’s not my problem.
Is there a point where it should be my business, where it should be my problem?
Have you ever engaged in financial evangelism? If so, what was the result?
(By the way, my parents read my blog and this post is pre-approved 🙂 Also, I was inspired by the idea of financial evangelism from a recent post by Anna at Are Ya Gonna Eat That?)