Perhaps one of the most difficult topics to write about is personal finance. It wasn’t always so. In fact, personal finance was the domain of the beginner, the entry level of money management. Now those naysayers are the very ones questioning what they didi, where they may have gone wrong and how to fix it while saving face.
Jonathan Stroud, British fantasy writer once asked: “Can you define “plan” as “a loose sequence of manifestly inadequate observations and conjectures, held together by panic, indecision, and ignorance”? If so, it was a very good plan.” Of course he wasn’t referring to personal finance or investing. Yet he sure could have been. We can’t even agree on the best plan or even a good definition of it. Arthur Brisbane the Public Editor of the New York Times offered this observation in the Sunday OpEd, “What do you do when you are told you are wrong 14,000 times a year?” Of course he was referring to the fact-checking process and the continual heads-up offered by readers of what he calls the most scrutinized newspaper in the world. We are our own personal finance fact checkers.
Martin Luther King Jr. thought property had “no personal being”. Churchill believed that man will be what he must “in spite of personal consequences”. Confucious weighed in on how to unlock the door to personal excellence and Gandhi rebutted that “It can be done only by God’s grace”. Hemingway advised us to “Forget your personal tragedy” while Margaret Thatcher saw the ability to do what is right as the height of personal satisfaction. Marcus Aurelius perhaps summed up what is personal when he suggested that “The universal order and the personal order are nothing but different expressions and manifestations of a common underlying principle.”
Today on the Financial Impact Factor Radio with Paul Petillo, Dave Kittredge and Dave Ng we are joined by Erin Arvedlund, personal finance columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her “Your Money” column debuted in 2011. And she comes with a great deal of street cred: financial journalist who has written for Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Moscow Times, The New York Times, TheStreet.com and Portfolio.com. This interview hopes to give you some direction on where to begin, how to stay with your plan and with any luck plot a new and steadier course for yourself.