Not the sort of person who ...
Wise Bread is stuffed almost to bursting with suggestions on how to live large on a small budget. We've got suggestions on how to spend less, how to earn more, and how to take control of your finances and your career. There are certain suggestions, though, that trigger a particular kind of negative reaction: The one where people say, "I'm not the sort of person who" does whatever it is that we've suggested. It turns out that lots of people think that way. Don't do that.
You can find them in the comments on practically every post. There are readers out there who say, "I'm not the sort of person" who:
- rides the bus
- wears used clothes
- takes in boarders
- rents a room in someone's house
- has a roommate
- borrows things
- lends things
- does manual labor
- follows a budget
- tracks every penny
- buys food on its sell-by date
The reason I say not to do that, is that none of these things really have anything to do with the sort of person you are. For stuff like this, when someone says, "I'm not the sort of person who," what they really mean is, "I'm so rich I don't need to" do whatever it is. And, if they live in a rich country, they're almost certainly right--even if they're pretty poor, just living in a rich country means they're so rich they can imagine that they're some particular sort of person who doesn't need to economize in some particular way.
The thing is, there's a problem with this kind of thinking--with imagining that "you're not the sort of person" who does certain kinds of things: You can start to believe it.
If you really believe you're the sort of person who doesn't do certain things--when the truth is simply that you're so rich you can afford not to--what happens if you go through a rough patch? In particular, if you go through a patch rough enough that you're not so rich any more? Answer: That kind of thinking can turn a mere rough patch into a financial catastrophe for your entire family.
I'm not trying to tell you to take any particular bits of Wise Bread advice--this isn't a post to urge you to sell your car or to move in with your brother-in-law or use some web tool to manage your finances. Rather, I want to urge you to do just one thing: Be honest with yourself.
There's power in being honest about this sort of thing. Just go ahead and say, "I'm so rich I don't need to take the bus, wear used clothes, or have a roommate." There's a certain kind of satisfaction in that for someone who's never going to own a Rolex or a Maserati or a third home in Aspen. More important, though, it puts you in a much better position to make the right decision if times get tough and you're not so rich any more.
As for thinking, "I'm not the sort of person," save it for things that are real and true. "I'm not the sort of person who betrays a friend or takes advantage of a stranger or abandons a puppy." That's the sort of person you are. That other stuff you either do or don't depending on the circumstances. It's got nothing to do with who you are.
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