Normally the “Personal Finance Fail of the Week” runs in Adina’s Sunday Reader. She picks the fail and excoriates a writer for sins like poor content, bad advice, or selling out. This week was special: Adina let me, Joe, pick the fail and write the paragraph. And the paragraph turned into 800+ words. So, today, I’m sharing the PFFotW in an extended format.
The honouree is MoneyAfterGraduation written by the effervescent Bridget. Despite being in debt, she decided to get a really pretentious credit card with a $699 annual fee. Yes, that’s well over 1% of her gross, pre-tax income. So Bridget was all like…
In her cognitive dissonance-laden post, she lists the card’s ethereal benefits — almost all of which will require increased spending to enjoy vapid experiential improvements. She seems to think the privilege of using a piece of plastic is worth the annual cost of two weeks of savings (or, in her case, debt repayments). Say, wasn’t she the blogger who openly mocked a guy for being enough of a douche to show off his AMEX Black Card?
But her tune seems to have changed:
Now, you’ve probably already guessed that I’ve been eyeing the Platinum card ever since I learned about the elusive black Amex/Centurion Card. While I still can’t stomach paying that annual fee for that titanium beast, I am wholly enchanted with the prospect of qualifying for that card — mostly so I can screech “I AM THE 1%” and post photos on Rich Kids of Instagram and do other such superficial things that are all part of being in a pissing contest with rich people. The Platinum Amex is my gateway drug to douchey affluence.
So when other people engage in conspicuous consumption, you resent their (likely pretend) success. When you blow money on a middle-of-the-road wannabe-rich person card, it’s awesome and we all owe you heartfelt congratulations? I see. Are you jelly because that guy still has a more prestigious card than you?
The truly offensive part of this terrible post is — as tends to be the case among Yakezie types — the fact that it’s being shared on an alleged personal finance blog. Would you:
- Start a weight loss blog and proudly document your participation in eating contests?
- Start a technology blog and brag about your 2002 Nokia flip phone?
- Start a fashion blog and take pictures of yourself wearing a burlap sack?
And yet Bridget talks about her excessive purchases with stunning zeal. Only in the bizzaro world of personal finance blogs can somebody brag about destroying wealth and have 30 mouth breathing dumb***** chime in with “nice job sister” and “it obviously works for you” and “droooool”. What’s the point of sharing your journey if you’re going to actively sabotage your finances and react to constructive criticism with knee jerk malice?
Well, perhaps the point is to make a few bucks by running comically nonsensical (seriously, try reading it) sponsored posts. Lots of Yakezie Challenge clowns will pile in with bland one liners regardless of your content’s quality. Adina argued in her Reader last week that it’s one thing to monetize your blog, but there’s a line beyond which you sell your credibility. Then again, I’m not sure what credibility MAG has on the topic of building wealth.
Bridget is excited that, as a welcome bonus after spending $3,000 on her Platinum Card, she’ll get $500 in gift cards from a store like Banana Republic. Wow! All for the low price of seven hundred bucks. On Thursday, I’ll tell you how I got over $400 in bonuses from my American Express Gold Card among over $2000 in other free bonuses during 2012. My AMEX Gold Card’s fee is $0 for the first year, and I assure you it’ll be cancelled long before I pay anything.
I can already imagine the nauseatingly-predictable, poorly constructed defenses that will be presented here or elsewhere; I’ve listed them (adapted from real comments) and prepared responses (if you’re going to be as mindless as a Yakezie commenter, I’ll give a template rebuttal):
- “If you don’t like her blog, stop reading it!” First off, I don’t anymore, Adina sent it to me. Second: why are you reading TimelessFinance?
- “It’s not advice!“ Unless you say “this is a stupid idea,” sharing your stupid idea is a testimonial. There are plenty of clueless people on the internet without you, and it’s not helping them to read your awful opinion that lacks a balanced counterpoint. Consider writing a journal instead.
- “You are so judgy and mean.” You are preachy and self-righteous. Is it nice when writers encourage stupid behaviour and mean when I discourage it?
- “Everybody has their vices and judging others is wrong.” Criticism of an argument, work product, or action is not judgment of a person. It’s a lame, post-modern, pretentious argument that neuters constructive discourse. Sorry your feminist cultural studies prof let you get away with circular arguments. Thankfully I don’t suffer from the logic-debilitating condition of holding a B.A.
You might assume Bridget’s beauty means she’s dumb (in which case you’re sexist), but she’s sharp. It’s a good publicity strategy to share foolish decisions, create backlash, and respond indignantly. Everybody loves a flaming train wreck. That’s why The Superficial and Perez Hilton will always be more popular than any personal finance blog. And it’s the same reason people love the voyeuristic thrill of debt blogs. It makes for good filth. But it doesn’t make filth good.
Because I’m not one to offend and walk away — whether offence taken is legitimate or feigned — I’m going to offer Bridget a Christmas present. I ordered two copies of Control Your Cash, an awesome personal finance book. One is a Christmas present for a young man who I think could benefit greatly from its wisdom as he prepares to leave high school and head for post-secondary. The other is for Bridget. Will she take it? (If not, it’s yours Sara!)