Author Topic: is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?  (Read 818 times)

mb196

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is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?
« on: January 18, 2018, 10:29:21 AM »
Let me explain...

The more books I read the more I see the same recurring themes in all the books.  My theory is that once you have covered topics such as savings, budgeting, credit cards, IRA, investments, taxes, estate planning, etc.  Once you have read about these subjects 2 or 3 times, you basically know what you need to know to understand them.   If that is the case, and all that is new is our experiences and our questions, what is the point of continuing to read about Personal Finance day in and day out.

I also feel that there are stages of money maturity (read George Kinder's book by same title) and that perhaps I have read so many books and achieved a modest maturity, that I'm at the peak of the mountain and wonder if this is it.

By the way, I do still read and enjoy Personal Finance books and blogs...but the question lingers.


Case

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Re: is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2018, 10:50:44 AM »
Let me explain...

The more books I read the more I see the same recurring themes in all the books.  My theory is that once you have covered topics such as savings, budgeting, credit cards, IRA, investments, taxes, estate planning, etc.  Once you have read about these subjects 2 or 3 times, you basically know what you need to know to understand them.   If that is the case, and all that is new is our experiences and our questions, what is the point of continuing to read about Personal Finance day in and day out.

I also feel that there are stages of money maturity (read George Kinder's book by same title) and that perhaps I have read so many books and achieved a modest maturity, that I'm at the peak of the mountain and wonder if this is it.

By the way, I do still read and enjoy Personal Finance books and blogs...but the question lingers.

You will reach a point where, after getting everything lined up and being familiarized with the basic topics, the you will have decreasing returns from spending more time trying to learn about these topics.  But don't fool yourself into thinking that by reading a few books (even if multiples times) that you have mastered the topic.  People devote their lives, get PhDs and stuff, to topics like economics.  You likely have only scratched the surface.

Most personal finance blogs (MMM included) don't get very deep into the hardcore details.  Actually this is the point.  People here don't to become masters of economics (or investing, or whatever), knowing every last detail.  They want to make enough of a mental investment that they can set up their life so that they can focus it on what they find more important.

On top of that, a lot of blogs and stuff run off topic.  And people often 'spin the wheels', talking about the same thing over and over again; they really just like to socialize, or help other people.  If that's what you want, great.  But the point is that, topics such as economics, savings, investing, tax optimization, can get VERY deep.  And you can discover things that require very nuanced details of implementation in order to maximize your monetary returns.  But most of us don't want to, and would rather get 'just enough', and then focus on things that actually bring enjoyment.

MDM

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Re: is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2018, 10:56:00 AM »
Scott Adams might agree with you: The Financial Advisor | Dilbert by Scott Adams.

Meesh

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Re: is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2018, 11:18:30 AM »
I think that yes, after a certain point the likelihood of someone learning something new is very low unless someone is researching a new subset of the subject to them. I've been reading about personal finance for 10 years now and not much has been "lightbulby" since ERE for me. I guess the point would be to stay motivated and inspired? But I think there are other much better ways to achieve this than read books and blogs. Monitoring one's own progress and a supportive community are much better at helping achieve goals.

I do agree with case though that subjects get very deep. 2-3 times is probably not enough content to know everything or even close to it. For example if you are trying to optimize taxes you should not just read mad FIentist but also state tax websites for state deductions and look into best states for taxes and what about expats and taxes and and and etc... A lot of those answers aren't actually in books and blogs.

Edit: I always looked at personal finances as a way to stretch my creativity, and that flows into weird connected subjects and is then brought back into what I do with my finances. I guess that's why I still read about it. But maybe what I read is different then 10 years ago, and might not even be considered "personal finance".
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 11:31:03 AM by Meesh »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: is all Personal Finance knowledge Finite?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2018, 03:00:51 PM »
Yea, there's really not too much to personal finance.  Spend less than you earn, invest the rest in cheap index funds.  Increase that gap as much as you can to retire earlier.  There are small details, but really not that many.  The rest is all psychology which, after reading blogs and books and seeing the same stuff, is where the forum comes in.  I continually learn from people here just because of the wide range and large number of perspectives.  I may know A and understand B but I never looked at something in a way that linked A and B, but someone says something and another lightbulb goes off in my head.  Or when someone (I forget who) said that an unexpected expense to them is just a number in a spreadsheet now, not a catastrophic event like it is for a large percentage of the population.  I used to be broke and remember what a sudden $100 bill could do.  I'm not there anymore, but I never thought about it like that... it IS just a number on a spreadsheet now.  Seeing it from that perspective completely changed for the better how I view my financial state.

So basically what I'm saying is, you may have worn out the blogs and books, but stick around here and you might learn something still :-)