I recently started getting into cycling. And by “getting into” I mean riding my old mountain bike an hour at a time for the purpose of fitness. I know next to nothing about bicycles. I’m riding the same Trek mountain bike that I bought my freshman year in college in 1996. I have so many questions about the basics of cycling that I want answers to, but alas, I’m slightly embarrassed to ask them.
But stupid questions are the best questions in the world. This is because the answers, when not condescending, are the basis for total understanding. This is a good thing when it comes to me and cycling, because I have lots of stupid questions. Fortunately, I stumbled into a great small bike shop and found a really cool guy who answered several of them. I wanted to know the following seemingly stupid-ass questions.
- How often should I put air in my tires? – What I was really trying to ascertain was how much air leaks out of a tire and at what pace.
- I have 21 gears on my bike, what gear should I use? – Asking this question really jeopardized my man-card. Men are supposed to know how gears work.
- How fast should I be riding? – This is the ultimate “compare yourself to others” type of question. I wanted to measure my progress with the effort of others.
It occurred to me on the way home from the bike shop that it takes some balls to ask stupid questions about things we all “should” know about. I have been riding a bike for over 25 years. You would think I knew what I was doing. The same can be said for money. You have been spending it for several years, you would think you would know what you are doing. But it’s the people that have the balls (audacity is a better word for balls, but I’m still holding out hope that President Obama changes the name of his book to The Balls of Hope) to ask stupid questions that actually put themselves in the best position to learn.
I love stupid financial questions. I embrace them. When it comes to money, there are lots of seemingly stupid-ass questions.
- What’s a mutual fund?
- What’s the difference between a bank and a credit union?
- How much money should I spend on a mortgage payment?
- What tax rate do I pay?
These are all very basic questions that very few people know the answer to. It’s because we are afraid to ask stupid-ass questions. Don’t be. Ask ridiculously stupid-ass questions. It’s the only way to learn.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.