I often get the inspiration for my articles from everyday people and situations. This week I got it from shoppers in a grocery store. I was there doing my weekly Saturday morning shopping. This particular week the store had 8 oz bags of shredded cheese on sale for $1.79. Being the smart shopper I am, I went to get my limit of 4 bags, when I watched someone in front of me without even looking at the options grab a 16oz bag of the exact same brand and type of cheese that was not on sale for $4.99. I was tempted to point out to her that she could get the exact same cheese in two smaller more convenient bags for almost half the price, but I didn’t. I just let it go.
Later on, in the same store I overhead a conversation between a husband and wife considering purchasing a $59.99 Lego set they had for sale. The husband suggested this would be something several people in their family would want for Christmas. To her credit, the wife did at least ask him if this was a good price for the toy. However, the husband was so busy loading the boxes into his cart that he didn’t even respond. Seconds later they were headed for the checkout. Having kids who are crazy about Legos myself, I investigated the building block set to see if this was something I should be buying too. As I suspected, the exact same item could be bought online for about 20 bucks less.
In both of these cases, hard working people paid way more than they needed to. Not necessarily out of convenience, or out of necessity, but simply because they didn’t care enough to even try to be wise with their money. Our industry has a name for this type of behavior. It is called “Financial Apathy” it is defined as the lack of motivation to manage or have a plan surrounding one’s personal finances. Financially apathetic people are generally not independently wealthy. In fact, many have financial difficulties, but they do very little to nothing to improve their situation through their actions.
I think that the fact that so many people don’t care about properly stewarding what they have been given speaks volumes about how wealthy of a society we really are. That abundance that we all enjoy too often makes us indifferent to how much we are wasting.
Before I sound too judgmental, I have to confess I have been guilty of this kind of financial apathy in a few areas of my life too. Just recently I came to the realization that I have been paying about 40% more for my home owners’ insurance than if I shopped around for the exact same coverage with a local independent P&C agent in my area. My paying too much for years was not based on the higher level of service I was being provided because I have never filed a claim. It was simply based on not wanting to do the work to consider other options and not caring enough to take action.
Unfortunately, financial apathy can have more long-term impacts on a person than just paying a bit too much for a product or a service. If a person is showing this same apathy towards their retirement accounts, they might find themselves later in life regretting it greatly.
Luke 12:48 says to whom much is given much is required. As we enter the season where spending goes up and bank balances go down can you say with certainty you are doing all you can to be responsible with all you have been given? Its certainly a good exercise to ask yourself this question. Especially at this time of year.
(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations)