First I saw that WellHeeled had shared an article on one of Blonde on a Budget’s blog posts. Then I saw people tweeting about this article. So I’ve finally decided to put in my two cents about the article and the assumptions behind it:
Girls and the Hot Mess (by Lindsay Katai)
Go read Girls and the Hot Mess. Now.
The basic premise of the article is that a lot of girls our age (20-somethings, 30-somethings) have almost romanticized the idea of being a “hot mess”. That we (and the rest of society) assume that we’re all running around spending more than we earn, racking up crazy credit card bills, spending too much on shoes, and in general, just being a mess with money. And apparently the same people believe we’re also running around having all sorts of regrettable sexual encounters and bad dates with weirdos. And that it’s somehow okay to do all this because it’s what 20-somethings are “supposed to do”.
She finishes the article by telling all of us to shape up. And I’m very glad she said that.
But I just wanted to make a stand for us girls who didn’t become hot messes. The ones who spent less than they earned, who avoided consumer debt like the plague. I mean, I’m not perfect. I know my financial history isn’t spotless. I took on $76k in student loans to pay for college. I borrowed to buy a car. I’d like to think these actions are defensible, using the personal finance theory that student loans are “good debt” compared to credit card debt. And that I paid off my car loan 3 years early. But we’re not all running around sabotaging our emotional and financial futures.
I want to also emphasize what Lindsay said. It’s not actually cute or adorable to be financial messes. Or to remain ignorant about financial topics. It’s not charming to say “I don’t know anything about my 401(k)”. Sure, you can say it, but only if you’re asking someone to show you the ropes. Saying “That’s what credit cards are for!” when you see a new purse, pair of shoes, or gadget that is out of your budget is not funny. It’s sad. So stop doing it. You’re giving us girls a bad name.
Educate yourself. Take responsibility for your decisions. And if you need help, ask for it. But embracing the “clueless 20-something” persona is just going to hurt you. When I graduated college, I didn’t know much about personal finance. But I read books, blogs, and magazines, and asked others for advice, so that I could stop being clueless.
This is what I love about the personal finance community. Even if some of us started out as hot messes, we hit a point where we realized it was time to stop. We educated ourselves, and now share our experiences and advice to wake up the rest of our peers. So thank you!
So. What do you think? Am I being high and mighty? Out of touch? Spot on? Were you a hot mess? Have you abandoned those hot mess ways?