One of the biggest (and hardest) financial lessons that many people have to learn is simply this: No one cares about your finances, except you. Your mother might have tried to tell you something similar when she refused to buy those designer clothes you wanted. She probably told you that it didn’t matter what brand you wore because no one was really paying attention to you. At thirteen you didn’t believe her. You just knew that everyone was looking at you and that they cared deeply whether or not you were wearing the latest trends. Newsflash: Even then, no one cared. Oh sure, they might have made fun of your store brand clothes, but that’s not caring. That’s abuse. People only genuinely care about things that affect them. Your clothing choices didn’t affect them, so they didn’t really care.
We confuse a lot of other emotions and actions with true caring. Plenty of people may be nosy about your finances and express that as “concern.” Your best friend may “feel bad” for you that you can’t go out to dinner every night, and tell you how sorry she is, and talk to you about how sad the situation is. But does she really care? Is she deeply invested in your dining choices? Probably not. Your boss may wonder why you need a raise and even go to the trouble of asking you to explain your needs. But does he really care that you have three kids to feed? Probably not. He cares deeply about his three kids. But yours? Not so much.
We think people care about what we wear or what we drive. We go to great lengths to impress and to keep up. But people don’t genuinely care. They may use your possessions as a way to pigeonhole you or to determine if you’re “worthy” of knowing, but they don’t care. If you don’t measure up to their standards, they’ll move on to someone else. Anyone who truly cared about you would love you regardless of your possessions. Sometimes you have to impress (job interview, anyone), but even then the people you’re impressing don’t care one whit what happens to you after those twenty minutes are over. There’s no concern or caring there, just a measurement of whether or not you can fit in.
Financial providers are always claiming to care about your finances. They claim to care whether you can retire. They care that you have the right insurance products. They care that you have too much debt. Seriously? Nope. They only care as far as your situation benefits them. If you don’t have insurance, they can sell you some. If you have a fat retirement account, that’s more fees for them. Do they really care about your finances and whether you are really well off? Hardly. No one at XYZ bank is losing sleep over your finances or spending hours thinking of how they can help you.
Supposedly the government even cares about your financial picture. They claim to care that you can retire, that you have health insurance, and that you have some savings. They track their caring through all kinds of statistics and programs. But do they really care? No. They only care to the extent that your financial picture benefits the government. If you’re rich, you pay more taxes. They care about that. If you have adequate retirement or insurance you’re less of a burden on the system, freeing up more money for gold toilet seats. They care about that. But do they genuinely care if you are warm and comfy or living in a box? Nope.
Are any of the people who claim to care about your finances losing sleep over your financial picture? Don’t bet on it. If they really cared they’d be genuinely worried about you, not simply curious, nosy, or greedy. No one really cares what you own, where you travel, what kind of car you drive, or whether you have the latest gadget. No one cares what you do for a living or if you might be able to retire someday. No one really cares if you have any savings for an emergency, or that your home is about to be foreclosed on. Think this is harsh? Think about what happens when your finances go belly up. Can’t pay your mortgage? The friendly banker isn’t so friendly anymore. Your neighbor who encouraged you to buy those $200 boots isn’t there offering to pay the credit card bill when you can’t. If you die without life insurance, the agent isn’t there after the fact offering your widow some money. After the car accident leaves you unable to work, your boss isn’t going to offer to keep paying your salary just because you failed to get disability insurance. The reason: They don’t care about you or your family. All of these people are too busy caring about their own interests to be bothered with yours.
The only person who genuinely cares about your financial picture is you (and anyone who depends on your financial health like your spouse and kids). You are the only one who really cares how much money and debt you have. You’re the only one who cares whether you can retire someday. You’re the only one who cares about your clothes or your car. You’re the one who has decided what possessions will or will not be important in your life. (Okay, you had some help there from Madison Avenue, but still.) You care the most about your finances. As such, it’s up to you to do the best you can to set yourself on a good financial course.
It’s okay to seek help from others and to get advice. But don’t confuse their advice or input with caring or acting in your best interests. It’s up to you to learn all you can and to act in ways that get you where you want to go financially. It’s up to you to save, reduce debt, invest wisely, and get the right insurance. No one else is going to take responsibility for you, take care of you, or pick up the slack for you. Why? Because nobody else cares. The truth is that you are the only one who cares about your financial picture and you’d better start caring deeply because no one else is going to.