The Exception vs. The Rule in Money

Money isn’t that simple. Debt isn’t that simple. And becoming wealthy (spoiler alert) isn’t that simple.

Going out on a real limb here, but if you’ve seen “He’s Just Not That Into You” (she says as she floats backwards into 2009), then you’ll know exactly what I mean by the “exception”. If you haven’t. Here’s a quick refresher:

Gigi: I think I've figured it out. Remember when I went out with that notary public and he cheated on me and then Anastasia from upstairs told me about how her boyfriend cheated on her in the beginning then he totally changed and now they're married and crazy in love?

Beth: I thought that guy was a process server.

Gigi: No notary. Anyway my point is, Anastasia is the exception, not the rule. We have to stop listening to these stories because they rule is most guys who cheat on you up front don't really care about you very much.

Janine: Ok.

Gigi: Ok, Ok. Exhibit A. Chad the drummer who lived in a storage space. He only used me for rides and yet I continued to stalk him for most of 1998. Then oh, um, there was Don, that broke up with me every Friday so that he could have his weekends free. I was delusional about that relationship. I used to refer to him as my husband to random people, like my dental hygienist. Anyway, all my friends used to tell me about how things might work out with these dipsticks because they knew someone, who knew someone, who dated a dipstick just like mine. That girl ended up getting married and living happily ever after. That the exception and we're not the exception we're the rule.

Okay, now that we’ve all had our fill of chick flicks for the next 12 months, let’s get to the always-favorite analogy post you’ve all been waiting for.

The Exception vs. The Rule

An exception is the magical story we all hear about at the family gathering or potluck lunch at the office. It’s a tale about a friends’ sisters’ cousin who once tried something – maybe a get rich quick scheme or maybe a winning lottery ticket – and it paid off big time.

And the rule is – if it’s not going your way, it likely won’t. Because you’re not the exception.

*reality bomb crashes entire internet*

Even though there is always a stroke of luck waiting to hit someone square in the wallet, that doesn’t mean you’re next on the list. In fact, it doesn’t even mean you’re top 10, or top 100.

So every time you hear about someone who has magically turned $500 into $500,000, I want you to stop, take a big sip of your coffee/wine/martini and think about this example.

Just because scenario B worked for Number 1, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for Number 2.

Is this making any sense yet?

Personal finance bloggers are alive and well in this world, along with other financial institutions, magazines, and media who are all spreading the same words of encouragement when it comes to your money.

We all love to read stories that pertain to the following:

Check these simple steps, and end up just like a filthy rich girl who wrote a book about how she became filthy rich

or

Once CEO quits job to travel around the world and make money via social media shares story so that (don’t worry) you can do it too

But…wait a minute?

Money isn’t that simple. Debt isn’t that simple. And becoming wealthy (spoiler alert) isn’t that simple.

Realistically, we all have good months and bad months when it comes to our money. What you decide to allocate as “good” and “bad” are your decision, but rarely do we go infinite months without hitting a stroke of unhappy bank account.

You know what that means? That we’re all on the same level.

I’m sure even Warren Buffet has had a billion dollar blunder. I mean, a billion dollars yes. But a blunder none the less.

So What Do You Want From Us?

(they ask, slowly rolling their eyes)

Although sharing super crazy stories (that probably get a lot of hits) is exciting, sometimes it’s nice to hear a story about a person who is doing just fine by following steps A to Z and doing, well, doing good.

In other words, what about the “rules”?

Comparisons in personal finance can become a dangerous game, so next time you read a story, just remember – it might not work for you.

Not everyone is going to become a model for the best financial practices selling used furniture.

Not everyone is going to be able to make a ton of money working as an Uber driver on the weekends.

And not everyone is going to be able to buy their home for $250,000 and sell it 10 years later for $900,000.

BE REALISTIC.

And don’t listen to anyone who thinks their financial plan is the best financial plan for you.

What About When You Are the Exception?

First of all, it’s perfectly okay to celebrate. You did something that worked out swimmingly for your bank account, and you did it in a way that most people will never get to experience.

And as awesome as it is that you made significant leaps with your financial success through rental properties, minimalism, or investing, just remember to acknowledge the fact that it might not be a right fit for everyone or every generation.

So share your advice, your story, and your best practices – but also share your hardships, your struggle, and your biggest challenges. Because as much as I’d love to live in a van and travel across the country (jokes, never let me do that), it’s not as easy to accomplish for all of us “rules” as it is for the “exceptions”.

Instead of being an exception, I say we all strive to be exceptional. With our money.

Have you ever been an exception, or are always stuck being the rule? Let me know in the comments!