The number one financial thing I wish everyone would know

The number one financial thing I wish everyone would know

Christopher Enns

I love personal finance.

I love the budgets, the savings, the maddening complexity of an obscure tax rule.

Maybe I’m still in a ‘honeymoon’ phase because that love is still pretty new to me. It was only a few years ago when money was a huge stress for me: I avoided thinking about it, I avoided talking about it, I just plain didn’t pay it any mind at all.

I knew nothing about money. Seriously…absolutely nothing.

But this isn’t a story about how ‘I did it and so can you’. You probably can… but you also probably don’t really want to.

I’m a freak. It’s weird to like budgets. I know that. And you’re probably a freak about a whole bunch of weird stuff that I don’t give two figs about.

The thing that makes the things we love different is that you kind of have to deal with money… on a day to day basis. It’s really hard to avoid. So as much as you may not want to deal with the financial side of your life… you do have a financial side.

And as much as you might hate it, people are going to talk about all the things that you ‘should’ be learning.

So let me add to that potentially annoying group of people with the biggest thing that I wish I had known about finances when I was growing up…

You’re not stupid for not knowing much about your finances.

You’re not dumb because you can’t really explain what a mutual fund actually is. You’re not worthless because you don’t know the difference between and RRSP and a TFSA. You’re not a failure because you don’t know the interest on your savings account.

The biggest thing that stood in my way when it came to getting better with my money is that I didn’t want to look stupid. I didn’t want to ask questions that people would scoff at and say “you don’t know what a MER is??”

No I didn’t know what a freaking MER was, and the fact that I didn’t says nothing about my intelligence level.

I just didn’t know.

But because I didn’t want to look dumb, I avoided learning anything else. #amazinglogic

Assumption: I am the only person on earth who doesn’t know these things.

It may sound insane, but this is pretty much what I assumed.

And I can’t be alone in this. So for anyone else out there currently thinking those thoughts, let me tell you…

You are not the only one. Tons of Canadians (not just artists) don’t really know much about their finances.

One of the biggest things that writing about personal finance has taught me is that there is an incredible hunger out there for the ‘basic’ things, the stuff that every one assumes we already know. It wasn’t just me who didn’t know them, tons of people didn’t.

The excuse that I kept feeding myself… that it was too late to start or that I would just end up looking stupid because no one else had the questions I had… was complete crap.

Not to be the boogie man in the room, but a big part of the financial sector really feeds off that fear. They throw fancy looking acronyms at you, and then blankly stare waiting for an answer, daring you to admit that what they said made ZERO SENSE, until you awkwardly nod and sign whatever they put in front of you.

Guys…at no point is personal finance taught. Not in elementary school, high school, or university. So unless you had parents who made teaching you the nitty gritty of money a priority, where was this financial know-how supposed to come from???

Why would you know about this stuff?

The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is right now.

It’s a tried and true personal finance motto, and I absolutely love it.

If money is a big stress for you, this financial stuff can really help.

It doesn’t matter what ‘mistakes’ you’ve made, or what situation you find yourself in. You’re not a hopeless financial moron, you’re just a person who may have come to a point in their lives where learning some money basics could really be of benefit.

Maybe you’re not ‘too late’, maybe you’re exactly where you need to be.

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