Financial headlines and articles about the federal budget in Washington, changes in HealthCare costs, interest rate predictions, and the daily changes of foreign markets, do their best to make a case for our attention. There is a continual supply of recommendations for financial changes we should make based on the latest news and insight. If we apply this advice, we would have to change our financial plans almost daily. But experience tells us that the personal impact of major issues and economic changes is largely unknown until long after the fact, and it almost never affects us the way that it was reported or predicted. In fact, quite often it doesn’t affect us at all.
The headlines and article are written to grab our attention, and prompt us to act by showing how the information affects us personally, and how we “need” to respond. We know that selling subscriptions are a core consideration for the media, but we tend to overlook this fact. We expect a certain amount of objectivity and advice from the experts.
I read multiple newspapers, magazines, periodicals, blogs, newsletters, and books, and I glean what I can from each, but I have to look beyond the hype to find the substance…and I don’t find it very often. As an example, I recently subscribed to a magazine that I read in my Dentist’s waiting room and had found interesting. Before I received the first issue, a copy of a “sister magazine” (also pertaining to personal finance) arrived and I assumed that I had made a mistake when I placed my order. I leafed quickly through the magazine and none of the articles caught my eye, so I set it aside. Two weeks later, the magazine that I ordered arrived, and it contained a few interesting articles which I read, and just ignored the other magazine.
Each month about two weeks before I received the magazine that I ordered, the other magazine would arrive that I hadn’t ordered. I never saw much in it of interest when I leafed through, but since it’s a popular magazine I decided to carve out some time and go through it page by page. As I examined each page, I ripped out the full page ads as I went along and set them in my recycling pile. I stopped at a few articles and read partway through, but found that they were selling something and weren’t objective or informative. One by one these pages went into the recycling pile too. When I reached the end of the magazine, not one page remained. Every page in the magazine was an ad of some sort or a sales pitch wrapped in an article, and they had all been combined together to masquerade as a magazine. It had no valuable information or articles with substance…and yet this is a popular magazine!
I can’t imagine what readers find interesting or informative in that magazine, and I’m concerned about the financial decisions that they might be making based on the content. If our goal is prudent financial management and ultimately financial independence, these are not the types of articles and magazines that we should be reading.
The principles of prudent personal finance aren’t new and there’s no secret to achieving financial independence, and yet every day there’s a new idea promoted as having a better way. There should be more articles encouraging us to be cautious of trends, to develop our own financial plan based on sound financial principles, and to apply wise financial decision making in order to eliminate debt and save for the future. Sadly they are far and few between.
Do you subscribe to any blogs, magazines, or periodicals that you have found to contain sound, practical information? We could all benefit, so if you have, why not share them.