Before you read, L-I-S-T-E-N to this!!!!
Over the years, I’ve noticed that moment when each of my children started caring about what other people think of them. One by one, I’ve watched as the opinions of others become a big deal in their own decision-making. As smart, mature adults, we have a term for that: peer pressure.
This can cause all sorts of trouble in our financial lives. Instead of making financial decisions based on what will be best for us, we start doing things based on what others will think. We end up trying to live other people’s financial lives. Very few people actually pay attention to how and why they use money. When pushed, they have a hard time separating their “why” from someone else’s “why.” Not everybody you try to “model” your life after has the same financial makeup as you (income, expenses, assets, liabilities), so trying to “match” what you see in fact may work for someone else but may not work for you!
The goal is to separate what we want from what everyone else wants. Only then can we start to ignore the peer pressure we all told ourselves we left behind in high school. Personal finance is exactly that: personal. There are some basic pillars of personal finance, sure. Beyond that, all you can do is soak in the advice, learn the basics, and make decisions that benefit you the most.
The content of this post originally appeared in The New York Times and Lifehacker.