Don’t Count Other People’s Money

I don’t remember when I first heard the phrase “Don’t count other people’s money,” but it’s a phrase I tell myself often and something my wife and I keep in mind when trying to figure out people’s motivation for making a large purchase, making a business decision, or choosing a career move.

When it comes to the state of other people’s finances or of the finances of a business that’s not ours we don’t have the whole picture. It’s rude to make assumptions and offer unsolicited advice.

Don’t count your friend’s money

If a friend comes up and says “Look at this new computer I bought!” they aren’t asking you to remind them that they are unemployed and living in their mother’s basement. They are looking for approval and admiration of their purchase. It would be a different situation if the friend asked “Hey, I’m thinking of buying this computer, do you think this makes sense for me?” That represents an open door to discussion. I’d then dig deeper and try to get more details about their situation to help them make a wise decision.

We have a very unique position as Financial Peace University leaders where people have paid money to attend and give up their free time to attend. They will often ask questions and through the course of the discussion time we are able to give guidance on their financial decisions. The advice we give is prefaced with the phrase “If I were in your shoes…” At the end of the day the person asking will need to live with the consequences of their decision.

Don’t count a company’s money

Recently the company I work for changed the pricing of their products. The reasoning behind the change was explained to customers in a blog post and further clarified in the comment section. (Note: I’m not interested in debating that decision here I’m just using it as an example.)

Several customers were vocal in their disapproval of the change and several showed their support of the move. Most of the complaints were civil and legitimate, but there were a few people who took the opportunity to (poorly) estimate the financials of the company and offer advice on a direction to take.

The comments went something like: “You probably make $X per year, so you should spend $Y amount on salaries and on keeping things exactly the same to make me happy. See how simple it was for me to solve this problem in a blog comment for you? I deserve something free.”

These misguided individuals had me shaking my head in disbelief. They have no grasp on the intricacies of running a very large software company and yet they were trying to impose their will. The advice wasn’t asked for so it was a ridiculous exchange.

It was just another example you shouldn’t count other people’s money.  People and businesses are going to do what they want.  If they ask you for advice then take that golden opportunity to try to be useful.