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Feeling Poor: Here Are The Two Largest Reasons Why

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In a personal finance forum I frequent, a person posted a link to a survey of what people are looking for in personal finance tools. There were a new member to the forum. Since they hadn't contributed anything to the forum, I didn't feel the need to help them out. In fact, I suggested that they pay for a focus group. It turns out that the company is three people looking to bootstrap a business by making a new personal finance tool. I wish them luck... I doubt anyone would give up their financial information to three people who can't afford a survey.

poor.jpgThe forum thread author went on to say that they found the existing personal finance tools to be deficient. This made me take pause and think about all the tools currently available for personal finance management. There's Quicken, Microsoft Money, Wesabe, Geezeo, Mint, and my own personal favorite, a simple spreadsheet program. I don't mean to suggest that all these tools are perfect - they are not. There is plenty of room for new products to enter the space.

I asked myself a simple question, "Are people having problems with their personal finance because the available tools are not helpful?" I would love to believe that better tools could solve people's money woes. I think most people need to focus on two things to escape a life of little financial worry. Specifically I would cite education and desire to improve as those two most important things. If you are looking for more education, I would recommend this site and those in my blogroll.

If you are looking for a desire to improve, you should simply look at your income and your lifestyle. If you make a good income and still consider yourself poor, you might want to investigate if you are saving money were you can. Too often, I've seen people make a lot of money - only to spend it on many little treats or one big one (such as a luxury car or a McMansion). Conversely, people who find themselves on the lower income scale might find that saving money is not enough. For them, I would suggest looking for ways to increase income.

Going back to the team of three people looking to develop a personal finance tool. I often think the most successful tool would be a role playing game (like World of Warcraft) where your character's abilities are tied to a combination of your financial health and your financial knowledge. I get the feeling that a lot of America would think a lot more about personal finance.

Image Credit: Denislav Stoychev

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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10 Responses to “Feeling Poor: Here Are The Two Largest Reasons Why”

  1. Laura Zurowski says:

    I totally agree – having a specialized budget balancing / money saving software package isn’t goin to do a bit of good if a person isn’t committed to making the necessary changes in their life (“No daily Starbucks?” “Cut back on my $100/month cable tv?” “But I need new clothes for work!”) One of the best strategies I used (back in the dark ages of 1994 when I was on a very tight budget) was to allocate cash into various categories every month. This allowed me to ensure that the bills/loans got paid and that there was a little bit extra for fun. No credit cards were allowed. That experience taught me quite a bit and while my finances and employment situation have improved quite a bit since then, I still carry those lessons with me.

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    That would be kind of crazy, but it just might work. :P

  3. sounds like you’re advocating people take responsibility for their actions/situation.
    what a unusual concept! I always thought that if you didn’t measure up to your standards, you just redefined them! ;-P

  4. I have not been very happy with the personal finance software that is available. There are lots of issues that require the manual classifying expenses in my experience. However, I must agree with you that making the the best damn software in the whole world won’t help the majority of people.

    The best features only tend to make things more complex, but often that complexity discourages adoption. I regularly have to evaluate software for my company and often we do not select the software with the best features — we select the one that reaches the optimal point of functionality versus support costs versus usability. I think that most people attempt to make a similar choice when selecting personal software.

  5. Joseph Sangl says:

    A written spending plan that I prepare BEFORE each month begins was the ticket to financial freedom for my family. It is really simple. Spend less than you make and save money for a rainy day. Have some fun along the way.

    I’m glad it is not difficult to win with money!

  6. MossySF says:

    The Worlds of Warcraft analogy is interesting. After all, the basis of that game is very much the same as personal finance concepts — you find an area with monsters you can kill for gold, magical items, experience and you spend 14 hours a day pounding on them to earn a profit. Same thing with real life — you find a job that pays decent and you spend 8-10 hours a day pounding on a keyboard/jackhammer/etc. But I guess it’s the “variety” and easy to track progress that makes WoW so much more addictive. Every dollar you earn in the real world looks the same and you’re never sure when you’re ready for the next promotion.

  7. Anthony Imperioli says:

    You mentioned a spreadsheet being better than most software. I agree. Blaming it on a software is just a case of excusitis.

  8. This country is HUGE on methods and poor on fundamentals. To stop being poor people need to give up on their consumerism, yet what they are being offered are “simple easy” methods they can buy that give them hope. Then they fail … it is really hard to explain this concept though as it can’t be sold in shrink-wrapped packaging.

  9. If you are reading this you are almost certainly rich. You may not feel that way if you think those you see on TV, or in magazines… are the norm. Don’t believe me? Take a look to my previous post on buying too much stuff and relative wealth worldwide. I really like Kiva, which provides loans to entrepreneurs worldwide. It not only helps make the world a better place but helps the rich realize they have a distorted view of reality if they think they are not.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Poor people usually feel of loss. I am one of them. I found there are many poor people, or people who feel they are poor(or afraid of losing something I don’t know). Think about poor always lead us to wrong direction.

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