More about money

I was talking with a small group of co-workers yesterday about money stuff, mostly lamenting how we all have those months (like April for us) that are basically money black holes. Offhand I mentioned that my monthly spending report was going to be ugly this month and it was interesting to see the shocked, almost horrified looks on their faces.

“You do monthly spending reports?”

“Yep. I do a spending report every month and an annual report every January. I like knowing where all of our money is going.”

“Oh, that sounds horrible. I so don’t want to know where my money goes.”

Everyone laughed and a few people nodded in agreement and then further conversation revealed that of this group of well-educated, decently paid professional people, I was the only one who tracked my spending in any sort of a regular way.

I find this fascinating.

Now, I know that I’m an outlier in terms of my comfort level in talking about money. I like to talk about personal finance. I like to pay my bills every month. I’m don’t announce my salary to everyone I meet, but I’m also basically a state employee so anyone who really wanted to find out what I make would be able to without a whole lot of difficulty, so I’m ultimately not even that private about that aspect. I feel secure knowing on a day-to-day basis how much money we have in savings or how much we still owe on our car or whatever. Since I do the bulk of the financial stuff for our household it helps me feel like I’m doing my part to take care of my family to be able to manage our money and keep my husband up to date on how close we are to meeting our financial goals.

I wasn’t always like this with money. I existed in a space of willful ignorance in my early twenties and paid VERY little attention to my overall finances. I paid my bills on time and balanced my checkbook but I had no savings and a stupidly insane amount of credit card debt. I still regard paying off all that credit card debt as one of my chief accomplishments in life. It was harder work that graduating from college, I’ll tell you that.

How about you? Are you an “ignorance is bliss” person about your money or a financial nerd like me? Why do you think money is so hard for people to talk about?

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6 thoughts on “More about money

  1. Kate says:

    I may not be a finance nerd, but I’m definitely a *personal* finance nerd. Like you, I used to be a disaster, but reformed right around the time my oldest child was born, and, since then, have paid off an incredible anount of credit card debt, my student loans, and my car. My current financial obsession is saving for a 30% down payment on a house, and I have financial plans for where I want to be in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc. It’s something I’m very proud of.

    I know where we spend our money, but my husband is not as disciplined as I am, and we probably would benefit from a retrospective spending report as opposed to my prospective planning. I do have a good handle on where it goes – even five years ago I was missing bill payments and wondering where all our money went. And I had considerably fewer expenses (no kids!) then.

    I LOVE when you write about this type of stuff. LOVE.

    • Wendy says:

      I really do like doing spending reports. There is something kind of fun (for me) in knowing exactly how much money it cost us to have a two year old or how much we spent on fitness for the year.

      I have a long-term financial goal that I want to hit ($1 million net worth by the age of 55) and lots of goals along the way I want to get to. I like feeling progress.

  2. Kate says:

    I agree! Progress is so key! It makes the whole thing seem so much more possible. When I was paying off our debt, which was really enormous, I started with the credit card debt, which was spread between maybe seven cards or something like that. When I paid the first card, and then the second card off (sort of Dave Ramsey style) it was like a switch flipped, and I went from being vaguely depressed to feeling incredibly empowered.

    Along the lines of your conversation with your co-workers, I am in a field where a good portion of my pay is variable. I was shocked to find, recently, that many of my co-workers can not meet their daily living expenses (things like daycare and mortgage payments) without the variable comp (vs. the decent base salaries). I guess that’s not so abnormal, but I would not be able to sleep at night.

    • Wendy says:

      I did sort of a Dave Ramsey approach as well and it really was the best feeling to see the $20,000+ of credit card debt I had get eaten away. Now I like watching our savings edge its way up. Feels even better.

      I’ve always said that I could never work on commission because I’d never sleep at night. I’d really like to be in a place where we are really able to meet all of our bills just on one salary. We’re not there yet but I think it is attainable in the next few years if we work hard.

  3. Gretchen says:

    I am kind of a slacker about it. I mean, I pay bills and balance checkbooks every month, but figure as long as we’re saving and not living paycheck to paycheck, the specifics don’t much matter. But we’re also both very conservative and have retirement accounts, pay off credit cards in full every month, own our home and are debt-free. So maybe not such a slacker after all.

    • Mr. Monkey says:

      Anyone who owns their own home and is debt free is definitely *not* a slacker. You should just keep doing whatever you’re doing.

      And Mrs. Monkey’s money efforts have really improved our quality of life and peace of mind. Thanks so much, sweetie.

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