Time for a round of Answer the Reader’s Question: Ignorance vs. Bliss.
Today’s question comes from a reader in his twenties who says:
“I was wondering if you have ever written an article on converting the (financial) ‘non-believers’?
“I’ve been trying to get my girlfriend to … help us be financially free, but I am having trouble getting her to participate. I know she’s scared to read personal finance blogs and make a budget because she doesn’t want to know how much she wastes every month. She’s in denial.
“I’ve encountered this apprehension with many people in my life. I’m sure it’s a psychological defense mechanism, the ignorance is bliss syndrome. Do you have any tips on inspiring these kind of people?”
Here’s my reply:
Success unfolds when we face the brutal facts about our situation, no matter how dire, while simultaneously having faith that we’ll achieve our goals in the end.
I didn’t make that up. That idea is called the Stockdale Paradox, and it’s named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, a Vietnam prisoner-of-war who helped his soldiers face the brutal reality that they wouldn’t escape their imprisonment for a long time … while simultaneously trusting in their eventual freedom.
So how do you encourage someone in denial to “face the brutal facts?”
A lot of people are turned off by the notion of skimping and saving, but they LOVE the idea of quitting their lousy job.
I’d probably approach the topic with your girlfriend by showing her how passive income can allow her to buy the things she loves. She gets to continue living her lifestyle — AND doesn’t need to work in order to support it!
That should get her attention. Once you’ve piqued her interest, show her how setting aside some money now will create passive income streams for the rest of her life.
This post shows how I created $4,400 per year in passive income from just one of my several rental units. Meanwhile, the guy who lives in that unit, the guy who works hard to earn that rent money, drives a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. If I wanted a Benz, I could buy it purely from passive income in 8 years. (Of course, I could also re-invest that passive income and be one step closer to freedom …)
People are motivated by different factors. I’m motivated by freedom. So are plenty of the Afford Anything readers. Most of us want the autonomy to decide how to live our lives, without being pushed around by economic pressures.
But some people are motivated by material objects — houses, cars, clothes. That’s fine. Tap that motivation, and use it as the source that inspires you to waste less, invest more.
You can fritter money away mindlessly and then stress about the bills (ignorance), or you can retire at 40, travel to Bali and live in a mansion (bliss!). Sometimes it helps to start with the end in mind.
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