Recently I’ve begun to notice something a bit unusual. An interest in personal finance seems to be becoming more common, and dare I say, trendy. It’s not that interests in personal and family finances have never been popular. After all, I can remember several times in the recent past when personal finance was one fad of the time. Like these…
- Tech Boom – “I AM AN INVESTING GENIUS! Everyone should bow to my prowess… Oh wait, a sock puppet representative is not a substitute for positive net income? It was nice knowing you, pets.com!”
- Housing Boom – “I AM A HOUSE FLIPPING GENIUS! Everyone should bow to my prowess… Wait. What do you mean no one wants to buy this house for $100K more than I just paid 3 months ago?”
- The Great Recession – “I AM A COUPON CLIPPING GENIUS! Everyone should bow to my prowess… Sure I get smelly dumpster diving for illicit coupon stashes, but I’ve got enough toothpaste in the cupboard that we won’t need to buy any before my unborn child goes off to college! Wait… toothpaste expires? Well, crap.”
At least for us, this time it’s starting to feel a little different.
A Bit More Balance To The PF Trend…
FWIW, I am pretty chill about talking about personal finances with most of our IRL friends.
Good friends might notice if we’re out Mr PoP and paying a restaurant tab Mr PoP might turn to me and hold out his credit cards saying, “Which one are we using today?” And I’ll somewhat sheepishly say, “This one since it’s got a 5% reward this month.”
We’ll commiserate with others about how expensive home repairs can be, even when you DIY, but for the most part, our energy and focus on personal finance gets released here on our blog, so we keep those interests mostly on the DL with our “IRL friends” figuring they don’t really care about the nitty gritty of our financial lives and musings the way that “internet friends” seem to.
But it started to seem a little different when a friend wanted to talk about where to keep short term savings this spring. He knew we were accumulating a sizable pile of cash in anticipation of paying Mr PoP’s parents back the $50K we borrowed from them, and my friend was accumulating a similar (if not even bigger) pile of cash as a down payment on a house. The interest in finances from friends seemed to accelerate into the summer.
In the course of just a few weeks several different friends asked me about what Mr PoP and I use to manage our finances since they were at a point where they wanted better coordination with their spouse (or soon to be spouse) when it came to spending and managing their savings goals.
But New Year’s Is When It Started to Get Really Noticeable
On Facebook we saw messages from old friends like these:
“It’s New Year’s Eve… and I just put together a retrospective spreadsheet of our 2013 finances”
“YNAB is just $15 today. We use this program to budget our expenses. In 14 months we were able to finish paying off significant student loans and buy a house… Close family and friends are probably sick of hearing about our budgeting, but it’s such a relief to know we are secure and will be able to easily weather unexpected expenses”
“2014 is going to be the year my student loans are finally gone. Can’t say I’ll miss Sally Mae.”
Maybe I’m just drawn to their comments because of our own interest in personal finance. But maybe, there’s also a chance that personal finance – in a non-gimmicky way – is actually starting to be “cool”. And if that’s the case, maybe Mr PoP and I are finally on the leading edge of a trend – something that hasn’t really happened much in our lifetimes.
What do you think? Has non-gimmicky personal finance grown in popularity? Or is it all in our imagination?