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People have a tendency to judge others based on their wealth and how they spend it...



Carl Richards, an Author and Financial Adviser, shares his thoughts on how to control your emotions and be more comfortable talking about money

RP: One of the ironies about money is that, although we generally don’t like talking about it, most of us are very interested in how wealthy other people are.

We also make judgements about people, based on how much money we think they have, and what they spend their money on.

CR: I’ve been really fascinated lately by these google searches. Like if you type in any semi famous person’s name, you start typing their name – the most common search term is net worth! Right? So there is something, and I’ve thought a lot about this. So we’re competitive just as a species, we’re relatively competitive. I think if we were all having moments of clarity the thing we would want to compete on would be happiness. Right?

The problem is that there’s no unit of measurement for happiness. I can’t compare my happiness to yours. So, we’re just, I think, this is the kind version of it, like I think we’re just looking for an easy way to compare how happy we are.

RP: The problem is, wealth and happiness are two very different things.

Also, everyone’s different. One person’s extravagance is another person’s essential expenditure.

CR: I can tell you hundreds of stories of people where I’m like, ‘that’s irresponsible spending’. And, because it was my job, I would happen to be their financial adviser, before I would say that I would ask a couple of questions.

And then I’d realise like… you know one example was a friend of mine, every summer, or every winter, he would go helicopter skiing. And I remember saying to him, his name was Todd, I remember saying ‘Todd, like, look, you really should be saving that money’. And as we dug deeper, we understood like that was keeping him, he was… his profession was massively stressful right? And that trip was allowing him to continue to do the work that he did, and he claimed, keeping his marriage together. And then suddenly, that helicopter spend, that helicopter trip, doesn’t look like such an extravagant expense.

RP: People don’t just judge others according to their wealth and expenditure; they also judge themselves. It isn’t very helpful.

CR: There’s so much shame and guilt built into this thing called money, right? Like we all thought it’s about numbers - sorry! It’s about feelings. And shame, and guilt, and blame are some of the strongest emotions around money and I think we could just go such a long way if we could just start recognising first, so step one would just be recognising.

It’s one of these incredibly important subjects, we don’t know how to talk about it, the only way forwards, particularly around these emotions of shame, and judgement, and guilt, the only way forward is to learn to start having discussions about it.

So, we should try to feel more comfortable talking about money.

And next time you find yourself judging someone for buying say, an expensive car, stop and think.

That’s their business, and you don’t know the full picture.

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