The Politics of Personal Finance

Thrift, frugality, and investing are pursuits that cross political, religious, and social boundaries. Regardless of your ideology, sound personal finance habits can help you live a better life.

There seem to be three distinct classes of personal finance books:

  • Those with an overt religious-based foundation for thrift. Dave Ramsey bases the ideas in The Total Money Makeover on his Christian faith. Miserly Moms takes its cues from Christianity, too.
  • Those espousing a “reactionary” back-to-the-earth philosophy. I'm currently reading Living Simply with Children, which is a great book, but clearly written from a more “liberal” perspective.
  • Those that fall somewhere between, or which straddle both camps. This group comprises the bulk of personal finance books. Some, like Your Money or Your Life, manage to simultaneously promote Christian beliefs and a sort of “New Age” philosophy. Others studiously avoid any sort of dogma.

There's nothing wrong with any of these perspectives. They're all good. And they allow authors to bring new ideas and new techniques to the realm of personal finance. In Living Simply with Children, for example, Marie Sherlock talks about raising children with no concept of Christmas. But in Miserly Moms, the Joni McCoy argues that there's a Biblical basis for mothers staying home with their children.

Despite the political and spiritual viewpoints espoused in these books, they offer excellent advice. You don't have to agree with the author's premise to find value in what he or she writes.

Even if you're bothered by the blatantly liberal perspective of The Two-Income Trap, you can glean some useful information. You may think religion is a curse, but if you suffer from back-breaking debt, there's no better starting point than Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover, Bible verses and all! Ignore the liberal rants. Ignore the Bible verses. Focus on the financial advice.

Personal finance is non-political. It helps everyone when another person avoids debt, learns to save, and becomes financially independent.

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