I have this dream where I’m presenting at a conference on grammar to an auditorium packed with writing experts. The next moment, the crowd is in uproar because I used passive voice in my concluding paragraph. I imagine this is what Dave Ramsey is going through every time someone critiques his signature Baby Steps program.
I think I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read where a writer or commenter complains that Ramsey’s advice is too cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all. These arguments and dissenting comments almost always take the form of the “blanket statement” shun.
As a finance writer, I get critiqued with the “blanket statement” accusation all the time. It has many variations, but it usually goes like this: “this is good advice for some people, but it’s a blanket statement and could ruin people’s finances.”
I believe that counter-perspectives are absolutely essential to finance and readers are best served where opposing views are easily found. However, those that use the “this is a blanket statement” accusation often don’t realize what the world of financial writing would sound like if authors never took a stance or opinion on an important financial subject.
Do you really want to read financial articles that sound like this?
Emergency funds are great financial tools for some, but terrible constraints for others. Those that might benefit from an emergency fund typically have an unspecifically low cash-flow or liquidity that can, at times but not others, constrain their financial future through, (but not always), unexpected expenses.
Of course, emergency funds are also terrible ideas for other people. Those with unspecifically high cash-flow or liquidity can at times (but not always) earn more income through less liquid investments that they’d miss out on if they had an emergency fund. However, it is important to understand that there are risks and even if you are someone with an unspecifically high cash-flow or liquidity, this option may not be right for you.
Overall, emergency funds are a great idea for some people and terrible for other people. Sadly, by penalty of comment derision, I am not allowed to make suggestions that might be interpreted as a blanket statement. Therefore, I can’t tell you which category you might belong in. So get an emergency fund if it is perfect for you, but don’t waste your time if it’s not perfect for you. Good luck figuring out which category you fall into. I cannot possibly tell you since everyone is different.
I hope you noticed the length of my example snippet above. It’s not circular and lengthy for fun – Ok, it is for fun, but not just for fun – but because avoiding the sin of blanket statements requires a writer to dance around financial concepts instead of prescribing a potential antidote to financial problems. It’s true that some diagnoses are wrong, but sometimes it’s better to try a potential cure than let a dying patient expire on the table.
A vast majority of Americans are not college educated and even those with a degree are not always financially savvy. Financial frameworks like Ramsey’s Baby Steps truly would help improve most people’s finances. Of course, for the finance wizard, Baby Steps could hinder the growth of your wealth. However, for a large portion of those struggling with finances, it’s better than the debt black-hole that feasts on numerous wallets.
If you have counter-perspectives, by all means let the world know the weaknesses to different financial advice. However, stop with the “blanket statement” accusations, lest financial writing dumb itself down so that it becomes absolutely useless for everyone.