After reading this post at Get Rich Slowly, it made me think long and hard about my own interest in personal finance and my desire to help others make better financial decisions. You see, it seems as though we need to overcome (or be overcoming) an obstacle, or be going through a sizable “life change” in order to seem viable or credible to others. To me, this is a strange phenomenon, which actually makes sense…once you put some thought into it.
My brother has always been good with money. I have not. He did a lot of things right the first time, and I did not. So if he were to start a blog about personal finance (like I did), his credibility could come into question, as he has never had to push past a lot of the hurdles that I have. Now, there is no doubt in my mind that he would be a very capable writer and would be able to draw inspiration from countless sources and may have his own ideas or methods on how to “do it right the first time”. But for those who are or have been struggling with financial issues, his ideas may not “reach” readers.
It is always easier to have experience with an issue that others have gone through to help them out. When I was in college, I ran into a kid I had gone to high school with. I’ll never forget this random encounter, because at first it seemed strange to me. Later, I realized that it makes plenty of sense.
His name was Andy. School was about the last place I would imagine running into him. Prison, a dark alley or a gas station…no surprises. But Andy did a lot of drugs when we were in high school, so I was surprised that he had even graduated, much less made it to college. We had a short conversation mostly about nothing at all, and when I asked him what he was going to school for, the answer was shocking. “I’m going to become a substance abuse counselor”, he stated. At first, all I could do was laugh. Sure, it had been a few years since I had seen him, but how much can someone change between the ages of 18 and 21? More than I thought.
Andy went on to explain how he had basically hit rock bottom. It was one of those stories that could have been much worse, but luckily, Andy had a good support system around him. He attended rehab, cleaned himself up, and decided that since he was able to fight through the pain, anguish and lessons that come with addiction, his calling would be to help others make it through what he went through.
I could easily take advice from someone who has done everything the right way, but it does help to heed advice from those who have been in that same position you are in. There is a certain connection made with those that have experiences or obstacles similar to yours. Experience speaks volumes.