Why You Should Stop Reading Headlines (except this one, obviously)

keeping up with the Joneses | personal finance tips | money mindset | millennial money tips

What I really mean is: why you should stop reading JUST the headlines.

A big problem with the world today and news, in general, is people (sometimes myself included) read the headline and then stop. It’s not just in the news that this happens, “headlines” aren’t just news articles, they could be Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, or Twitter hashtags.

Remember that social media is generally a reflection of a person’s highlight reel, it’s where they can showcase the headlines of their life. The problem is that headlines can be misleading or only be half the story.

While I see this a lot in today’s news publications (they all want to grab your attention) I don’t fault the news, because the rest of the story is there. However, people will share and post and comment based solely on the headline alone and it’s a problem.

Everyday Headlines & Assumptions Lead to Misunderstandings and Misinformation

Only reading the headline can not only lead to the spreading of misinformation, but depending on the topic could impact how you feel about what you are doing.

An example from the social media lately, was warnings to keep pets inside during the solar eclipse to make sure they didn’t look at the sun. Animals don’t know a solar eclipse is coming, they just think you’re weird for staring into a box or putting on funny glasses. Animals don’t generally stare at the sun anyway so why would they look at the sun during an eclipse? Yet, I saw multiple posts on social media about keeping animals indoors during the eclipse.

via GIPHY

Or the headline about Taylor Swift being dropped from that DJs lawsuit, it may have lead you to believe that there wasn’t still a lawsuit against the DJ brought by Taylor Swift. Ultimately, Taylor Swift won that case, and cases like that can have a big impact on the discussion and treatment of sexual assault in our country. That of course then became it’s own headline, but if you’d only read the first headline it could lead to some confusion about the case.

Now this is a personal finance blog, so how does this tie into money? The Instagram life is a headline. You can find tons of headlines about how someone paid off a ridiculous amount of debt, but to know what they went through to do it, you have to dig deeper. You have to read the story.

Headline: A Fancy Car

If you read or see that someone you know got a fancy car, you’ll likely assume that they are doing really well to afford such a purchase. And perhaps they are. However, it’s also possible they didn’t think this purchase through and are struggling with the higher insurance premiums. You have to go beyond the headline to understand what is really going on.

Assumption = Rich and doing Well

Reality = A Bigger Car Payment & Higher Insurance Rates

Headline: Big House

A big house can certainly be nice for some people. However, personally, I’ve definitely looked at my own financial situation (I owe a ton of debt, in case you forgot) and seeing people I know have similar debt buying houses leave me sitting there wondering how the fuck they are able to afford that?

I then have to remind myself that personal finance is personal and no one’s financial situation is identical to someone else’s.

For example, the people I graduated with that are able to buy houses, likely didn’t incur the cost of moving a bajillion times like I did the last 6 years. Or they may have higher paying jobs, or they are married and have the benefit of a second income. There could be a million different ways in which they were able to take on a mortgage and a home comfortably.

Additionally, not only is their financial situation different but their financial mindset might be different too. Even if I could take on a mortgage (though at less than a year self-employed it’s unlikely a bank would take me on), I wouldn’t want to. I can’t imagine going further into debt for a house right now. Perhaps after I pay off my student loan debt I’ll be willing to take it on. But right now, in my mind, I won’t buy a house until I can pay for most of it in cash.

Then again maybe the people I know buying houses are struggling, you just never know.

Assumption = They can’t possibly afford it

Reality = they have a totally different bank account from me

Headline: Carrie Bradshaw & Her Closet

Remember in Sex in the City how the camera would always start on the shoes and pan up to show the entire outfit. Because they were great outfits (at least for that decade) but they were also fucking expensive.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

There was even an episode where Carrie realized she wore her income on her feet, which is why she couldn’t afford to buy the apartment she was living in. Obviously, this is a TV show and there are a lot of ridiculous examples of there is no way they could have afforded this and that, but at least they brought some attention to her spending habits.

Assumption: Writers make a lot of money (they can, but not the point)

Reality: Carrie kept her money where she could see it, on her feet, instead of in the bank.

If You Are Keeping Up With The Joneses You are Just Reading Headlines

The point is there is a whole lot more to the story than just the headline. It’s kind of like that whole judging a book by it’s cover thing, you can’t. Reading headlines, judging by the cover, and keeping up with the Joneses are all the same thing.

You’ve got to dig deeper. Admittedly that is sometimes easier said than done. I realize that not everyone is as open to discussing their finances as I am, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Though there is a right and wrong way to do this, questioning their ability to do what they did (buy a house or car or whatever) is not likely to lead to any valuable information. So start with flattery. People love having praise heaped on them.

For example, “Wow, I love your house. Congratulations on your new home. I’m hoping to buy a house someday, do you have any tips on how to save up for the down payment?”

One of three things will happen, they will politely decline to answer, their answer will reveal that it’s something that likely isn’t the smartest financial decision, at least for you, or you will actually get some tips on how to save for that down payment.

The worse thing that could happen is that they say no to answering your question and maybe judge you a bit. But then that is their fault for reading your headlines and not getting the whole story.

via GIPHY

Quality vs Luxury & Wanting Nice Things

Luxury often = labels. Fancy name labels. Luxury is not necessary, it’s splurging. Now, there is nothing wrong with splurging if you can afford to, no judgement. If you want it and can afford it without sacrificing other financial goals then go for it.

However, if you’ve got bigger goals and you have to pick between luxury and something else, go with something else. It may not make for as exciting as a headline but your bank account down the road will be a much bigger story.

Now just because you don’t go for luxury doesn’t mean you have to go for crap. It doesn’t mean being a cheap as possible. Being cheap can often lead to more expensive replacements. You can settle in the middle with quality. It’s okay to want nice things. Wanting nice things doesn’t necessarily mean you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

It’s only a problem for your finances if those “wants” are coming from a place of comparing yourself to others. Make sure your spending and wants align with your goals and values rather than someone else’s.

Dig Deeper with Personal Finance Bloggers Net Worth

Just as books and stories come in all shapes and sizes, so do personal finance journeys. What may be considered well off for one person’s situation, may be scraping by for another person. If you want to peek behind the curtain on other’s personal finance, then I highly suggest checking out Rockstar Finance’s Net Worth tracker, as well as my own Debt Journey and Income Reports.

What I really mean is: why you should stop reading JUST the headlines.A big problem with the world today and news in general is people (sometimes myself included) read the headline and then stop. It’s not just in the news that this happens, “headlines” aren’t just news articles, they could be Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, or Twitter hashtags. Remember that social media is generally a reflection of a person’s highlight reel, it’s where they can showcase the headlines of their life. The problem is that headlines can be misleading or only be half the story. While I see this a lot in today’s news publications (they all want to grab your attention) I don’t fault the news, because the rest of the story is there. However, people will share and post and comment based solely on the headline alone and it’s a problem.

Everyday Headlines & Assumptions Lead to Misunderstandings and Misinformation

Only reading the headline can not only lead to the spreading of misinformation, but depending on the topic could impact how you feel about what you are doing.

An example from the social media lately, was warnings to keep pets inside during the solar eclipse to make sure they didn’t look at the sun. Animals don’t know a solar eclipse is coming, they just think you’re weird for staring into a box or putting on funny glasses. Animals don’t generally stare at the sun anyway so why would they look at the sun during an eclipse? Yet, I saw multiple posts on social media about keeping animals indoors during the eclipse.

via GIPHY

Or the headline about Taylor Swift being dropped from that DJs lawsuit, it may have lead you to believe that there wasn’t still a lawsuit against the DJ brought by Taylor Swift. Ultimately, Taylor Swift won that case, and cases like that can have a big impact on the discussion and treatment of sexual assault in our country. That of course then became it’s own headline, but if you’d only read the first headline it could lead to some confusion about the case.

Now this is a personal finance blog, so how does this tie into money? The Instagram life is a headline. You can find tons of headlines about how someone paid off a ridiculous amount of debt, but to know what they went through to do it, you have to dig deeper. You have to read the story.

Headline: A Fancy Car

If you read or see that someone you know got a fancy car, you’ll likely assume that they are doing really well to afford such a purchase. And perhaps they are. However, it’s also possible they didn’t think this purchase through and are struggling with the higher insurance premiums. You have to go beyond the headline to understand what is really going on.

Assumption = Rich and doing Well

Reality = A Bigger Car Payment & Higher Insurance Rates

Headline: Big House

A big house can certainly be nice for some people. However, personally, I’ve definitely looked at my own financial situation (I owe a ton of debt, in case you forgot) and seeing people I know have similar debt buying houses leave me sitting there wondering how the fuck they are able to afford that?

I then have to remind myself that personal finance is personal and no one’s financial situation is identical to someone else’s.

For example, the people I graduated with that are able to buy houses, likely didn’t incur the cost of moving a bajillion times like I did the last 6 years. Or they may have higher paying jobs, or they are married and have the benefit of a second income. There could be a million different ways in which they were able to take on a mortgage and a home comfortably.

Additionally, not only is their financial situation different but their financial mindset might be different too. Even if I could take on a mortgage (though at less than a year self-employed it’s unlikely a bank would take me on), I wouldn’t want to. I can’t imagine going further into debt for a house right now. Perhaps after I pay off my student loan debt I’ll be willing to take it on. But right now, in my mind, I won’t buy a house until I can pay for most of it in cash.

Then again maybe the people I know buying houses are struggling, you just never know.

Assumption = They can’t possibly afford it

Reality = they have a totally different bank account from me

Headline: Carrie Bradshaw & Her Closet

Remember in Sex in the City how the camera would always start on the shoes and pan up to show the entire outfit. Because they were great outfits (at least for that decade) but they were also fucking expensive.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

There was even an episode where Carrie realized she wore her income on her feet, which is why she couldn’t afford to buy the apartment she was living in. Obviously, this is a TV show and there are a lot of ridiculous examples of there is no way they could have afforded this and that, but at least they brought some attention to her spending habits.

Assumption: Writers make a lot of money (they can, but not the point)

Reality: Carrie kept her money where she could see it, on her feet, instead of in the bank.

If You Are Keeping Up With The Joneses You are Just Reading Headlines

The point is there is a whole lot more to the story than just the headline. It’s kind of like that whole judging a book by it’s cover thing, you can’t. Reading headlines, judging by the cover, and keeping up with the Joneses are all the same thing.

You’ve got to dig deeper. Admittedly that is sometimes easier said than done. I realize that not everyone is as open to discussing their finances as I am, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Though there is a right and wrong way to do this, questioning their ability to do what they did (buy a house or car or whatever) is not likely to lead to any valuable information. So start with flattery. People love having praise heaped on them.

For example, “Wow, I love your house. Congratulations on your new home. I’m hoping to buy a house someday, do you have any tips on how to save up for the down payment?”

One of three things will happen, they will politely decline to answer, their answer will reveal that it’s something that likely isn’t the smartest financial decision, at least for you, or you will actually get some tips on how to save for that down payment.

The worse thing that could happen is that they say no to answering your question and maybe judge you a bit. But then that is their fault for reading your headlines and not getting the whole story.

via GIPHY

Quality vs Luxury & Wanting Nice Things

Luxury often = labels. Fancy name labels. Luxury is not necessary, it’s splurging. Now, there is nothing wrong with splurging if you can afford to, no judgement. If you want it and can afford it without sacrificing other financial goals then go for it.

However, if you’ve got bigger goals and you have to pick between luxury and something else, go with something else. It may not make for as exciting as a headline but your bank account down the road will be a much bigger story.

Now just because you don’t go for luxury doesn’t mean you have to go for crap. It doesn’t mean being a cheap as possible. Being cheap can often lead to more expensive replacements. You can settle in the middle with quality. It’s okay to want nice things. Wanting nice things doesn’t necessarily mean you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

It’s only a problem for your finances if those “wants” are coming from a place of comparing yourself to others. Make sure your spending and wants align with your goals and values rather than someone else’s.

Dig Deeper with Personal Finance Bloggers Net Worth

Just as books and stories come in all shapes and sizes, so do personal finance journeys. What may be considered well off for one person’s situation, may be scraping by for another person. If you want to peek behind the curtain on other’s personal finance, then I highly suggest checking out Rockstar Finance’s Net Worth tracker, as well as my own Debt Journey and Income Reports.

 

Money tools & resources i recommend

Chime (for saving) works by starting a spending account (takes 5 minutes) and opting into the automatic savings plan. (Learn more about getting started with Chime).  Every time I use the Chime Debit Card it rounds up my purchase to the nearest dollar and puts in in savings. Right now they also offer a double round-up bonus on those savings. All those withdrawals add up over time. Chime is free to use, with no monthly fees. With Chime, you end up saving money without having to think about it.

Qapital (for building savings & reaching money goals) Qapital can help you reach savings goals. Once you have the Qapital App installed and a bank account (or in my case three) connected you set up a goal or goals.  Then you set savings rules for each of your goals. For example, I have a round up to the nearest $2 rule, a guilty spending rule -when I buy Dominos. Qapital is free to useBonus, when you use my link you’ll get $5 after your first savings.

Qoins (for debt repayment) When you sign up for Qoins, you connect your bank account and then spend as you normally would. Qoins will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and put that change towards an extra debt payment. Learn more on How Qoins Can Help You Pay Off Debt Faster

SoFi (for refinancing) If you have private loans or your debt to income ratio allows, consider refinancing with a company like SoFi. Learn more about what it’s like to refinance with Sofi. Refinancing my bar loan with SoFi ended up saving me over $1,000. Use my link to refinance your student loan and you’ll get a $100 bonus.

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Stop Reading Headlines (except this one, obviously)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.