The arts vs. science debate is an endless one. What we know for sure is that we cannot live without either in this world. That’s the trick with getting a good start in your personal finance journey.
I challenge you to imagine what would happen if this world did not have scientists or artists. It would be one boring world. I can’t even begin to imagine what that world.
I’m sure you are asking yourself what personal finance has to do with the art vs. science debate. This article discusses whether personal finance would fit to be seen as an art or a science in this world.
Just think for a minute about the ways that both science and art have influenced our lives. Creative arts help us to see life from the artist’s point of view. Art creates a connection and helps us to come together around common topics.
Examples of creative arts that help us are painting, drawing, written art, song, dance, theatre, movies, and much more.
On the other hand, science is a bit more structured. Science requires creative thinking. Often in science, there has to be a problem for which scientists create hypotheses about how to solve it. They then test and experiment with the hypotheses and implement the findings.
Sciences help us a lot in our lives, for example, in creating medical advances, engineering marvels, physics, chemistry, and much more.
Introduction to personal finance
Personal finance, by definition, helps us understand how to manage our money and grow it through savings and investment. It also includes aspects that we need to watch out closely for, such as managing debt.
Other aspects of personal finance include creating a budget to manage expenses and investing to grow your wealth, retirement planning, tax planning, mortgages, banking, and much more.
How does personal finance help us?
Personal finance helps us be financially savvy to make the most out of our income, grow our wealth through savings and investment, all while avoiding the traps and burden of debt. It helps us distinguish between the good and bad decisions related to money.
Less than 4 in every 10 Americans can pay a $1,000 surprise bill from their savings .
A study conducted by Bankrate found that only about 40% of Americans had savings worth $1,000 or more. Another shocking statistic is that this has been made worse during Covid, with more than 6 in every 10 Americans saying that they have been living paycheck to paycheck since the pandemic hit .
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Why we consider personal finance to be an art
The thing about art is that you can always feel when it is good or when it is bad. It has some scale that you can use to grade it. The only thing is that this scale is different from person to person.
However, we can break down the elements that make something an art into:
- Meaning, and
Let’s review each of these in detail as they relate to personal finance.
Personal finance requires lots of creativity
The truth is that all arts require creativity to be successful.
We can never say that one person’s finance journey is the same as another. We work with lots of individuals, and what we often see is that no two people are completely alike.
In everyone’s personal finance journey, we find that everyone needs to have their separate vision board. For example, a house, a car, clearing their debt, going on holiday, or much more.
Secondly, we often find that people apply different scenarios and possibilities while putting together their personal finance plans. They often try to fix the restrictions and implement the plan in the best way possible.
As a result of the creativity required in building and implementing a personal finance plan, personal finance can easily be termed as an art.
To be great in personal finance, you have to find the fun in personal finance planning
It is easy to see how art creates entertainment and engages its audience. Think about how a song, dance, or movie creates a connection between the audience and the artist and enables the audience to be entertained.
Similarly, in the personal finance journey, you are the artist, and as the word ‘personal’ in ‘personal finance’ would show, you are also the audience.
Therefore, you would need to find ways to practice your budget, commit to a savings schedule, and invest wisely.
As we always say, savings and investing are not fun. It is like watching grass grow or watching paint dry. There is no fun in it. However, as a human being, you need to find the fun in your personal finance journey.
A good example would be how you need to find ways to spend time without spending money. You can do this by for example:
- Making art through DIY or other activities
- Making love
- Making peace through spending time with like-minded individuals
- Making merry through movies, music, or a lot more
- Make friends through networking
- Other activities such as hiking, camping, baking, dancing, or more.
Therefore, because you need to know the skill to succeed on your personal finance journey, personal finance can also be considered an art.
Personal finance planning gives meaning to life
Art always has to have a meaning. Similarly, for personal finance, you have to have a goal and a strong why. Why are you committing to the personal finance journey?
- Do you want to afford an expensive thing? For example, a house, a car, a boat, a TV?
- Do you want to go on holiday?
- Do you want to have more time for yourself by choosing when to work?
- Do you want to be able to spend more time with your family?
No matter what your why is, you need to articulate it strongly.
The ‘why’ that you articulate is what gives your personal finance journey meaning. Personal finance, like all art, has a meaning. Therefore, it can be considered an art.
Personal finance requires you to know the skill and apply it
The last reason we would consider personal finance to be an art is the skills required. Personal finance requires a lot of careful and diligent practice to build and implement your plan.
After you have set your personal finance plan, you have to know what savings means, how to manage your expenses to create savings, the difference between good and bad debt, the best ways to clear your debt, and how to invest in creating your wealth.
Please don’t mistake my analysis, because I have also seen lots of people grow in their finance journey without having any skills. However, they exchange their lack of skills with lots of experimentation and mistakes ☹.
Why we consider personal finance to be a science
When we think about science, we often see rigor, structure, and proper processes for assessing performance. These three are part of what we see in science. However, science is a lot more than that.
To understand what makes something a science, we came up with four (4) big reasons:
- Clear terminology
- Ease of measure
- Highly controlled environments, and
- Ease of testing and reproducing results.
Let’s review each of these in detail as they relate to personal finance.
Personal finance has its terminology
In science, we often have to use terminology or words with definitions related to that specific subject. For example, in climate change, the temperature change is measured either in Celsius or Fahrenheit depending on your country.
Similarly, in personal finance, there are terms that you would need to learn and master. Some of these terms include a budget, credit, debt, emergency funds, financial advisors, savings accounts, credit score, and much more.
Because personal finance has its terminology similar to most sciences, it can be considered a science.
Results in your personal finance journey are easy to measure
In science, it is usually very easy to measure the results or progress of everything. By the same example of climate change, it is easy to measure temperature change using a standard object known as a thermometer.
Achievement on your personal finance journey is also easy to measure. A good example is how you can measure how much savings you have in your account, your progress in clearing your debt, your return on investment, and much more.
Because personal finance has an easy way to measure, it can be termed to be a science.
Personal finance requires you to maintain direct control of your performance
One of the most important characteristics in science is that you need to remove or reduce external factors that may influence the outcome as much as possible. The experiment done in science requires so much precision that any external factors need to be controlled.
Creating a highly controlled environment is also the key to success in a personal finance journey. While it is easier said than done, we speak a lot about the importance of discipline in helping you on your personal finance journey.
Suppose you are disciplined through sticking to personal finance routines such as regular savings, avoiding bad debt, consistent investments. In that case, you will see lots of success in your finance journey.
On the other hand, if you are less involved in your personal finance journey and let external factors such as desire and wants to reduce your savings and increase your debt, your personal finance journey will become an uphill task.
Therefore, if you look at how discipline is a key factor in personal finance, it is easy to see how personal finance can be a science.
Personal finance requires consistency and lots of small experiments
In science, when you control all factors that could influence the outcome, it is easy to have results that can be repeated. This concept is also the secret to success in your personal finance journey. You cannot be successful by having one great month.
You would need to string along several months of sticking to your budget, saving your excess cash, investing smartly, and reducing your debt.
These standards of consistency that are similar between personal finance and science show that personal finance in one way could also be a science.
Our final thoughts
So let’s return to the original question that we set out to answer in this article, “Is personal finance a science or an art.” Frankly, it is hard to say. There is a very fine line between personal finance as an art and personal finance as a science.
We can conclusively say that no matter whether personal finance is an art or a science, it does need you to put together lots of building blocks to achieve your vision or goal.