Forget Prince Charming, Let’s Save Our Own Financial Lives

Are you taking control of your own financial life or are you just waiting for your financial Prince Charming?

I just watched this TEDx talk from Dr. Daniel Crosby called, Sex, Funds, & Rock N’ Roll. In it he humorously compares our relationship with money to our love relationships.

He points out four biases that often lead us to make poor financial decisions. Decisions like:

It’s an entertaining and revealing talk and I hope you’ll watch it.

One of the biases mentioned in the talk is called the “Prince Charming” bias. Meaning, we tend to think that something or someone will come along and solve our financial problems for us, even though it’s very unlikely. Here are some takeaways I had from that point.

Hope with Action is a Good Thing

It’s not bad to have hope. Wishing for your Prince Charming isn’t bad in and of itself. In fact, I think optimism benefits our lives tremendously. But this optimism should be balanced with action. It’s the waiting for Prince Charming while neglecting action that gets us in trouble.

What’s your financial Prince Charming? The lottery? An inheritance? “Making it big”? A sugar daddy? The President or future presidents?

I have a Prince Charming: this blog’s future revenue, and the potential for a multi-million dollar, life-changing sale. It’d be awesome if this blog earned enough money for a long enough time for me to make some big advances in my financial position (e.g. pay off my mortgage, fully fund a retirement and college accounts for the girls, and more), or if it sold and made me richer than I could ever have imagined.

But sitting around wishing for that doesn’t do a lot of good. In fact, I think it’s dangerous to fall into that thinking. I’ve got to take the steps each day to advance this blog’s revenue, look for ways to diversify, and generally do whatever it takes to reach my goals.

I’ve also got to spend time learning how to keep and preserve the money I’m earning. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have this lesson apply to you.

Prince Charming Isn’t All That Great and He’ll Probably Leave You

Dr. Crosby makes the point in his video that lottery winners (i.e. people who’ve supposedly met their financial Prince Charming) have a good chance of ending up fat, broke, and unhappy after just a few years. We see the same with trust fund babies (i.e. three generation rule) and pro athletes.

So even if you do make the sale, hit it big, or find a President who will give you everything you need, it’s not necessarily all that great. It won’t solve all your problems and it’s certainly not guaranteed to last.

Waiting for that Financial Prince Charming

Waiting for that ‘Financial’ Prince Charming?

Another thought within this point that I’ll add is that Prince Charming has the ability to actually steal your happiness by being so darn magical and charming.

Whenever I read Cinderella to the girls (or watch any romantic comedy) I’m always struck by how quickly the two seem to fall in love. One night of dancing? He’s a Prince, sure. But c’mon Cinderella, you’re a hottie. Play a little hard to get and build some substance into the relationship.

The same can be said of your financial Prince Charming. Spend some time learning the rules to building and preserving wealth. When you finally reach financial bliss, it will be more satisfying and you’ll have a better chance of holding on to what you’ve got.

You’ll also have a better perspective by then about what can actually bring happiness and satisfaction to your life (i.e. not necessarily more money).

Be sure to also check out Dr. Crosby’s previous talk, You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Speech.

Image by starrynight_012

About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this and I’m glad people have been digging it. I expect great big things from the field of behavioral finance in the next 10 to 15 years.

  2. Kelly Whalen says

    Great analogy. I know I was guilty of this behavior for a long, long time. But I do think it can be fun to imagine. You just have to know it’s time to put aside the fun and get serious again. 

  3. Nice post Phil and I couldn’t agree more.  None the less I play the lottery a couple times each week.  Call the several dollars my main vice.  I do tell myself that this is a “tax on the stupid” each time.  Best example was earlier in the year my wife and some co-workers pooled $90 together to play the $600 million jackpot and they “won” a grand total of $29.  One of golf’s greats, Gary Player, used to say “… the more I practice the luckier I get…”

    • Philip Taylor says

       @rwohlner I should probably edit that to say, “playing the lottery with money that should be spent/saved elsewhere.” I certainly played in the last big jackpot just to be a part of the excitement. Same goes for the Facebook IPO really. It wasn’t serious money though, much like your twice a week fun money spend.

  4. FamilMoneyValue says

    The three generations rule is what I’m trying to help families overcome – using the information on my site.
     Curious why you use livefyre?  It’s kind of a pain for users….

    • Philip Taylor says

       @FamilMoneyValue What specifically is a pain? I’ve not had any complaints. I’d prefer an open, simple form, but the spam was killing me. Now that I’m using Livefyre I actually prefer it: it brings in twitter and facebook comments, it shows comments real time, it allows you to tweet or share your comments easily. It also has a guest comment function that makes it easy for anyone to quickly comment. What’s not to like?

      • @Philip Taylor  @FamilMoneyValue Why is it a pain for users?Im torn.  I was using Livefyre this week but they don’t have email moderation so I went back to Disqus.  For some reason, my traffic also increased with Disqus with some new feature they have.  But Livefyre is better at keeping spammers at bay.  I had so much spam comments at one time my host shut me down until I cleared them from the pending section in the backoffice 🙁
        I digress! LOL
        Great article Phil!

  5. AverageJoeMoney says

    Great piece and an excellent video. You think Prince Charming would change his mind about me if I showed a little leg? Isn’t that hope with action?

  6. The Military Guide says

    The Prince Charming bias reminds me of a song lyric from another Disney girl’s movie:  “I’d rather rescue myself”… the Prince is only a short-term approach to “happily ever after”.  In fact our college daughter sees the Prince as just a potential deadweight dragging down her financial future.
    The older I get, the more I appreciate the long-term approach.  A marathon at a 10-minute mile pace, not a 100-yard dash.  Web2.0 lifestyles are just starting out– what if we’re blogging for 15-20 years like some of the bloggers we heard from at FINCON?  Instead of chasing an elusive million-dollar payoff, maybe a few hundred bucks a month compounding over all of those years will make a much more realistic difference in self-rescue.

    • Philip Taylor says

       @The Military Guide Good for your daughter. I hope the same for mine.
      Weird to think about blogging for another 20 years. But I should probably give some thought to that, because I do enjoy it enough now to see doing it for a lot longer.

  7. 100% agree! I think especially for us women it’s really important to have our own financial security and not rely on a man for it.