Financial Virtue Signaling

  • Are you familiar with the phrase 'virtue signaling'? If not, let me define it. It's doing something that tells the world that you're a good person. It's a way of showing you're a good member of society.


    I'll probably draw some email complaints, but I've had it with virtue signaling. Especially some of the 'awareness' campaigns. The reason is simple. In so many cases it allows people to feel like they've done something when, in fact, they haven't accomplished a single thing.


    Tweeting about (pick your disease or cause) doesn't accomplish anything. Oh, you may feel good about yourself for 'making a statement' but nobody is really listening to you. Hashtag tweeting may be cool, but it doesn't accomplish much.


    On the other hand, if you got people to pay you X cents per walkathon mile for an organization doing research to end the disease then you'd be accomplishing something.


    Part of the danger in virtue signaling is that we mislead ourselves. We think that we're accomplishing something when we're not. And because of that we don't do the hard things that actually could make a difference.


    I see the same thing in our financial world. A lot of virtue signaling, but not so much changing the way we handle our money. Take the recent news about consumer debt levels. We have more debt now than we did at the peak in 2008 (when we said that we'd never do that again).


    From an article on
    "(consumers) now collectively have the most outstanding revolving debt — often summarized as credit card debt — in U.S. history, according to a report Monday released by the Federal Reserve. Americans had $1.021 trillion in outstanding revolving credit in June 2017. This beats the previous record in April 2008, when consumers had a collective $1.02 trillion in outstanding credit revolving credit.
    "Here’s how the numbers stack up for indebted Americans in 2017: Housing-related debt is down nearly $1 trillion since the 2008 peak, but auto loan balances are $367 billion higher, and student loans are a whopping $671 billion higher, according to the Federal Reserve." source:


    That concerns me here at TDS. Don't misunderstand. I'm happy when you read our articles. And I sincerely hope that you learn something from them. But unless you put what you learn into practice, you're just virtue signaling. Convincing yourself that you're doing something about your finances when, in fact, nothing is being accomplished.


    That's why we have things like 'next step' at the end of articles and links to resources to help you improve your finances. Like our 6 Easy Ways to Get Out of Debt or CD Rate Comparison Tool.


    For some of you I'm preaching to the choir. You are already taking steps to not just read about money, but to take control and change your financial future. Congratulations! We'll be with you until your reach your goals.


    So please forgive me if this is a bit preachy. But I hurt when I hear about people who have serious illnesses or are declaring bankruptcy. Especially when some lifestyle changes years ago could have made a difference in their lives today.


    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

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