On Politics and Personal Finance

It is popular in the personal finance community to say that politics doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Politics matters because policy matters and politicians set policy.

It can be frustrating following along with our political system. We see issues that we care about fail to get addressed. We see laws that we don’t like created and enforced. We read the stories of corrupt officials. We read and hear the vitriol between the parties.

It becomes easy to disconnect.

It becomes easy to say “It doesn’t matter.”

“They’re all the same.”

“This won’t affect me.”

But we need to fight that tendency. If we avoid politics, then we skip out on our right to influence the decisions that are made about how our country will be run. We are saying, “I don’t care what happens. Let other people decide.”

This whole community is based around the idea that we need to defeat this pattern of behavior when it comes to personal finance and spending habits. Why do we condone it when it comes to politics?

With that in mind, I am considering expanding the topics I discuss here to include economic policies that are proposed or discussed in the future. The economy, trade deals, and the future of blue collar work were all central issues in the recently-concluded presidential campaign and there is sure to be a lot of change (or at least proposed change) in the near future to discuss.

The aim would still be to unpack complicated or under-explored topics and drill down to how they affect you as an individual and what you can do. A sincere hope for this project would be a fully informed public that is able to pressure politicians and lobby for the policies that most benefit them.

Whether your Senator or Congressperson listens to you and heeds your advice can be considered in your midterm election vote. As we’ve noted before 90% of members of Congress that sought reelection in 2012 were successful despite Congress having a 21% approval rating. Knowledge and active involvement helps you identify whether your incumbent Congressperson or the challenger will benefit your life more substantively.

What do you think of this idea? Would you be interested in reading? If so, how frequently (given that I post every Tuesday and Thursday) would you like to see this type of coverage?

12 thoughts on “On Politics and Personal Finance”

  1. I’d be happy to read anything that you post. It’s always informative. One that I’ve always wondered is what the rating of “my” congressman or senator is.

    While Congress has a 21% rating, I feel like people always referring to the opposing party that they dislike which pushes the approval ratings down.

    Anyway I’m definitely interested to hear your insight.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Teaching Kids About Their Student Loan OptionsMy Profile

    1. Thanks! That’s definitely an area that could be interesting to pursue. Judging by the high rate of incumbents winning reelection, it would seem that people tend to really like their own congressperson. The question is whether this is because their congressperson shares their views or whether it is just name recognition and status quo bias.
      Matt recently posted…I Want to Know What You Want to Know!My Profile

  2. Bring it on, Matt. We can’t shy away from this topic. For most middle-class Americans, government is their biggest expense. And government via its regulatory arm, is increasingly constraining competition and artificially raising the price of critical goods and services (e.g., education and healthcare). So like it or not, government is a major component of the FIRE calculus. And we’re not allowed to talk about it? This is the one major weakness of the personal finance community.

  3. If you are going to move the direction of policy, economics, etc. I would specialize in that area versus jumping from those sorts of posts to other more general personal finance posts (or other areas of personal finance, if that makes sense?). I think with these topics you get people who are either super interested or not at all interested. It’s not a bad thing to go towards that niche imo. I love policy and economics but that’s just me!

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