I tend to obsess. Not in the melodramatic sense of the word; I don’t obsess about my thighs or about my complexion or about whether Tommy Jenkins will ask me to the winter box social. What I mean to say is that when I decide to find a topic interesting, I
a) see it everywhere
b) feel compelled to purchase (and read) books about it
c) seek out communities of thoughtful and intelligent experts in the field, and read everything they have said to each other in the last year or so on the subject
d) read the new books I have discovered
e) think a great deal about it
f) Tell Amy all about it. ALL about it. Even when she’s sleeping, or eating, or hitting me. She usually just rolls her eyes.
This is a system which, at least as I apply it, is really quite adapted to developing my expertise to a relatively competent level in a relatively short time over a relatively broad expanse of possible interests. I have applied it with success in automotive mechanics, birds of eastern North America, understanding electricity for real, and poker, as examples. I have also applied it quite vigorously on the subject of finance. Budgeting, insurance, credit and debt management, mortgages, retirement planning, real estate investment, taxation, equity trading, mutual funds, options strategies, &c. &c. I do not offer for-profit counselling services nor would I without some kind of accreditation to back me up, but I am also relatively comfortable with what I know and what I don’t, enough that I can make judgements on the wisdom of various ideas or strategies and be confident in the decisions I make.
Enough that I can yell at my monitor when I read what passes for “financial strategies,” “money management” and <shudder> “budget tips” online. My monitor bears witness to the spittle encrustations of my vociferous discontent. By the holy and inspired laws of the Opinion Piece [ “Op. Ed.” being a less useful term when I am the only writer for this, uh, publication] I am now required to say something inflammatory and glib, so as rivet your attentions, to wit:
Budgets are useless or worse, and if you’re using one, you aren’t managing your money properly.