I wrote this during class with my students. Students were to write about a situation in which they could use help, explore the consequences (positive and negative) for asking or not asking for the help they need. Here is my response to that prompt:
I am someone who doesn’t like to ask for help for a few reasons. First, asking for help makes you vulnerable; you have to share what you are struggling with. You have to admit what you’re not good at so someone could judge you on what you can’t do if you ask for help.
Second, it’s hard to ask for help because of what our culture values. We value self-sufficiency in American culture. You are a hero if you “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and achieve what is seen as impossible. For example, we value the “self-made millionaire” or we pat someone on the back for starting his/her own business and making it huge, like Zuckerberg who created Facebook. In reality, I would argue that no one does anything great alone. Zuckerberg would not have made so much money without people liking his product. He must have run his idea about Facebook past his friends; plus his idea was based off a paper copy of a “paper” yearbook-type thing at Harvard College. He had to use computers, which someone else developed, and he probably used advertising. He probably had testers to make sure the program worked correctly. In short, he had to use his resources and ask for help to create this huge company.
Even though I don’t love asking for help, I do it. My current situation is that I want to know the best way to plan for retirement and pay off my mortgage. My husband and I are finally in a place where we know how much money comes in and how much goes out. He has finished his PhD and is paying off his loans, so we know how much money is going into that. Since Jon is working on paying off his loans, I want to start paying off our mortgage. I’ve heard, though, that it’s better to save for retirement than to pay off your mortgage early because the money put into a retirement account “earns” money (by gaining interest), and more interest is gained than is saved by paying off your mortgage early. However, I want to pay off the mortgage so that I can consider retiring early.
Overall, I think I understand some of this money stuff, but I would be much more confident if I met with an advisor. I’d also know exactly what I need to do, whether that be making a change in my taxes, putting more money towards retirement or even paying more on my mortgage. These are positive consequences of meeting with the advisor.
If I didn’t meet with someone who knows more about money than I do, I would also have consequences. For example, if I put my money in the wrong place, I wouldn’t be able to get it back, and I might not be able to meet my goals. I might have to work years longer if I misplace my money. I’d feel disappointed. I may need the money for an emergency, like if my car was totaled or if I had medical bills. If I don’t have money available for these things, I could have to pay more money overall—if the hospital charges interest or if I had to repair my car over and over instead of getting a new one.
I plan to visit the advisor at the end of February, so at least by March 1st, someone could check up on me to see if I followed through with my plan.