About a year ago, a friend of mine who was newly married told me about how she and her husband were in the process of shopping for life insurance. She complained that life insurance is a complicated product and that they were having a hard time choosing between whole-life and term insurance, among other important choices, like how much to purchase, which company to buy from, etc. As soon as she said ‘whole-life insurance,’ she had my full attention. I immediately piped up and told her that whole-life insurance is pretty much universally regarded as being a rip-off. She looked sort of surprised that I knew anything about life insurance, but asked me why that is. I gave her a brief explanation, but then started to get the feeling that I was being a little too enthusiastic, so I changed the subject. She told me later that she and her husband ended up buying the whole-life policy.
Recently I was having lunch with the same friend and we got to talking about debt; she had told me in the past that she has some credit card debt and she mentioned it again in our recent conversation. I casually told her that I’m pretty good at budgeting and that if she wanted any help to let me know. She thanked me, but the conversation pretty much ended there.
In that instance, I walked away happy that I didn’t push the issue. Very, very few people in my “real life” know that I write a blog about money, and even among those that do I don’t talk about it – or money in general – very much. I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all and I don’t want them to feel pressured to divulge any information that might be too personal to someone who thinks and writes a lot about money, so I often find myself biting my tongue when financial topics come up.
But when is it ok to let your personal finance “freak flag” fly? If a friend or family is about to make a huge money mistake, would you intervene to try to stop them? What if someone you love is seriously struggling with their finances – would you jump in and try to give them advice, or would you hold back? This is a question I struggle with a lot, and I’m sure that other PF bloggers do, too. I think any time someone knows a lot about a particular topic it’s natural to want to share it with others, particularly when they’re floundering or confiding that they’re having difficulties in that matter. Also, money is such a ubiquitous subject – it comes up all the time, so the tongue-biting is starting to get seriously painful.
So what about you? When do you let your PF “freak flag” fly?