What is “Tough Money Love” in Personal Finance?

July 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior

There are hundreds if not thousands of websites covering personal finance issues.  Most are hosted by vendors trying to sell you something.  Others dish out conventional advice that can be found in any personal finance book or regurgitated by financial planners.  Still others offer a steady stream of fluffy  affirmations, feel good pep talks, and cheerleading for folks with serious and chronic money/behavior problems.  (If you need affirmations for bad money behavior, I recommend that you visit the Women in Red Forum on MSN Money or watch the Oprah show.)

The problem with many folks is that they read, hear, and even know the personal finance information they are provided, but they will not or cannot act on it.  These include people addicted to credit (and to credit scores), shopaholics, chronic overspenders, undersavers, and those overcome by fear (which can lead to underspending or inaction).  When that person is us, we need help.  When that person is a family member or close friend, we want to help.  What kind of help should that be?  In many cases, that help needs to be in form of “tough love” that is often applied in other contexts.  In this way, the person providing the help becomes part of the solution and does not remain part of the problem by enabling the continued bad behavior.  This may require acting against our human tendencies to be unconditionally supportive and empathetic, no matter the behavior.  Tough money love may require brutal honesty and even obligate us to allow loved ones to experience the harsh consequence of dysfunctional money behavior as a means for correcting that behavior.

This site explores tough money love themes as they apply to our own lives and to those of our family and friends.   We all need to understand why certain people close to us seem to be incapable of making rational or logical decisions about money.  “Tough Money Love” will bring together information from psychology, behavioral economics, financial planning, and personal experiences, as we explore causes and solutions for deeply ingrained personal money problems in ourselves, family, and friends.  Your participation is welcomed.

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