Why is personal finance so scary?


I feel like many conversations about money I have had with friends, colleagues, and family members get stonewalled pretty quickly.

It’s just too much for people to handle.

There are too many things to figure out, to learn. For the love of God, why are there so many acronyms?

More importantly, there are too many things to decide.

I owe a big part of my financial awakening to Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” I read it in the summer of 2015 (on a trip to Italy that I really couldn’t afford LOL). It took me another year and a half and a re-read in the fall of 2016 for some of the big takeaways from the book to really sink in.

In it, Ramit breaks down why most people are bad with money and it really comes down to our inability to make decisions. Decision fatigue is real. It’s why some pretty awesome people wear the same thing every day.

We don’t even want to pick our outfits in the morning. So learning about stock portfolios, GICs, dividends, tax-free accounts? It’s a lot.

Here’s a for instance for you.  I used to be totally crippled by this big, scary word: investment. I didn’t know how to get started; I didn’t know where to put my money, or much money I needed to begin investing. Do I have to pick stocks? Do I have to pay fees for this? Can I do this through my regular bank? What is a mutual fund?

So what do most people do when faced with an absurd number of questions?

Nothing. They do nothing at all.

That’s exactly what I did.  I never bothered trying to navigate the world of investing – I just got overwhelmed and gave up before I even began.

But doing nothing is one of your worst moves. Inaction is still a choice. In IWTYTBR, Ramit argues: “It’s more important to get started than to spend an exhaustive amount of time researching.”

If you do something, if you act, if you decide to be proactive with your finances, even if you don’t know everything about finance  (and you won’t) – you are still two steps ahead of 90% of people around you.

I am the furthest thing from an investment expert. But I am now an investor. Do I pick individual stocks? God no. But you don’t have to! (and many would argue that you really shouldn’t).

I think the biggest reason Ramit’s IWTYTBR made such an impact on me was because someone was finally speaking my language.

Somebody was finally articulating in a real way this challenge that we all face: deciding what to do with your money each and every day. And it can be overwhelming.

So start small. There is definitely something you could be doing differently with your finances.

Maybe you know that you should be saving for retirement, but have just been too freaked out to figure out how to do it. Maybe you tried investing, but you had a bad run-in with a broker or local bank associate, and then you just never revisited it. Maybe you have no idea what you’re spending your money on (hands up if you’re guilty…I am so so guilty).

It all gets very scary if you have to do everything all at once…but you don’t.  You just have to get started. Could you:

  • Spend 15 minutes reading about what an RRSP/401K is to help you figure out if you need one?
  • Take 10 minutes to set up an automated monthly transfer into a savings account, even if it’s only $20 or $50 a month?
  • Google an online budget or spending tracker (or steal one from the many amazing PF bloggers who graciously share theirs), and commit to tracking your spending for a week or a month?

Baby steps are okay.

But not making any decisions at all?  I did that for my entire twenties, and it didn’t turn out awesome.

So pick your thing. Work at that one thing. Learn about it. Get started. Make a decision, even if it’s not the perfect decision. You got this. Just remember:

“The single most important factor to getting rich is getting started, not being the smartest person in the room.” – Ramit Sethi, IWTYTBR

4 thoughts on “Why is personal finance so scary?

  1. Have you read, The Slight Edge? I just finished it and one of it’s main messages is the action of getting starting is half the battle of achieving your goals. The other half is being consistent day in and day out 🙂

    “Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I haven’t, but thank you for the recommendation, I am definitely going to check it out now!!


  2. Decision fatigue is real!

    This is great post… I’m in that limbo of should I continue the baby steps or start investing while paying off debt. Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely something I need to get started on.


    1. So glad you related to the post! I totally get that back and forth, I have the same dilemma. I am still paying off student loans pretty aggressively, so my compromise right now is investing $75/month – for me, it feels good to be chipping away at more than one goal, but I also see why some people just choose one thing and pursue it wholeheartedly.


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