Some perspective on yesterday’s post

Now that a day has passed and my initial anger has subsided I want to take a few moments to explain why I think some people are too quick to forgive transgressions that require more repentance, if you will.

I have seen a lot of people dismiss Carl Richards’ failure to pay his obligation as a “mistake” but that was the consequence of his mistakes, plural. I’ve also seen people say that he “should have known better” and that’s true, but he should have known better on so many different occasions that it borders on pathetic. Remember that these are not mistakes of a lay person, these are mistakes committed by an expert who advises others. One financial professional who supports Mr. Richards even said “We are capable and in some cases even more likely to make many of those mistakes. Overconfidence bias? Who could be more overconfident than the experts?” Really? Run from this adviser, run!

Once again the series of mistakes Mr. Richards made was:

1. Spending beyond his means for a home

2. Financing 100% of the purchase price

3. Making payments with negative amortization

4. Allowing his spending on items other than the home to spiral out of control.

On that last item Richards writes, “As for our spending, we told each other that we’d catch up later, as my income and the value of our home continued to rise.” He saw the problem but did nothing about it.

One of these mistakes can be easily dismissed, two can be justified, but once the third and forth are considered, this person loses a substantial amount of credibility.

On the subject of mistakes. Everyone makes them and hopefully learns from them. Another supporter of Mr. Richards and a financial professional writes, “It’s time to acknowledge our humanity and allow people to learn as much (or more) from our mistakes as they do our successes.” In that case why don’t I simply make mistakes, thoughtlessly rush into decisions simply to learn from my mistakes? Yes we want to learn from our mistakes but it would be better still to avoid them if possible.


I posted a picture yesterday on my Facebook page as well as on Mr. Richards’ Facebook page. This image was based on his thought provoking sketches.

Mr. Richards’ pictures simplify and explain financial topics in an easy to understand way. As one responder to my post wrote, “Carl is not getting more publicity than you because he made a mistake. Carl is getting more publicity than you because he invented a way to simplify finances.” He is correct and it’s important to point out that his mistakes do not negate the positive impact his sketches have had and will have.

So yes I congratulate Mr. Richards on his honesty and I’m glad he’s learned from his mistakes and is willing to use that lesson to help others. What still bothers me is that Mr. Richards doesn’t seem to acknowledge the seriousness of his bad decisions and many people are much too willing to give him a pass on those rather egregious lapses in common sense.

Posted in General, Money, Success by with 1 comment.


  • Nancy Boan says:

    The word “mistake” is much used and mis-used in today’s society to excuse what really are “decisions” made by the people using the word “mistake” after the fact. I’ve seen the word “mistake” used for many criminals who once caught admit to “having made a mistake”.
    Mistakes do happen, however, when a person makes a decision to follow a certain path, with full knowledge that the path is the wrong way to go, that is NOT A MISTAKE, that is a DECISION to do the wrong thing and hope, despite all knowledge to the contrary, that they will not get caught. Once caught however, these people often cop to “their mistakes”. Unfortunately we have seen much of this behavior with our politicians. They give themselves license to do whatever they feel entitled to do and then later humbly admit to “mistakes”. I think deep down we all know what mistakes ARE and what they ARE NOT.

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