Keeping it real: Confessions of a personal finance blogger
Photo by: dreamer07
I’ve been debating writing this article for a few days now. Confession time: for the past 2 months I have not been practicing what I preach. I’ve been wanting to share this with you: my readers, my friends, my accountability partners but to be honest though, I was afraid that you would be disappointed with me and might stop reading or subscribing to my blog. So I kept pushing it to the back burner.
Yesterday, I paid the price for my laziness and inability to admit I screwed up and decided it was time to own up. Let me explain…
As many of you know, I had a guest article published on Get Rich Slowly about How to Stop Fighting With Your Spouse About Money. Here’s the irony of it, my wife and I got in a bit of an argument about out money yesterday. Honestly, it was the first time in a very long time. Why? Because I haven’t been doing what I recommended in the article. I wrote that guest article back in October. J.d. and I talked and decided it would be more useful to publish it on Get Rich Slowly after the new year when folks were re-looking at their finances and trying to get things started out right for the new year. Between then and now, I fell back into some old habits and paid the price. So here goes, a few confessions that I’m not real proud of:
1 – We haven’t had a budget meeting since the end of November
Since the end of November, my wife and I haven’t met nor discussed our budget once. Well not exactly true, we’ve discussed not having one. Does that count? No? I didn’t think so.
I haven’t updated our budget and we haven’t met about it. Wow, that was really tough to type. I think doing both of these things is one of the most beneficial things you can do to keep money issues from causing problems in your marriage. Guess what? I was right, at least for our marriage. My failure to communicate and follow my own advice caused a big communication gap on our marriage, and frankly caused my wife to become very frustrated. She made that very clear to me yesterday, and kudos to her. I deserved it.
I am not going to make excuses. I got busy over the holidays with work, shopping, working on my blog and about a million other things that are more fun than updating our budget and I just flat out didn’t do it. That unfortunately rolled into the new year as work ramped back up and I returned from vacation to find employee reviews due, projects behind schedule, etc, etc. Doing the budget just kept getting put on the back burner because I didn’t want to make the time to do it. One of my biggest faults is being a procrastinator. I put off what I don’t like to do until the very last minute. I paid the price for doing this, only for about the millionth time in my life. Procrastination is something that can really bite you financially.
2 – I paid minimums on our credit cards in both November and December
Due to my lack of organization and procrastination, I paid minimums on our credit cards in both November and December. My thought process was to pay the minimum so the bill wouldn’t be late, then at the end of the month come back and pay the budget amount plus an extra cash we had. I didn’t do that. Best part? I made the same mistake in December.
So what ended up happening is we spent the money on miscellaneous things and on Christmas gifts instead of putting it on our credit cards where it should have gone. Given I haven’t done our budget nor tracked our spending for January yet with, I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to pay this month as well. I had intended to pay off our chase card this month. Hoping we can still do that.
3 – We spent our emergency fund
So here’s the worst part, while I was on vacation between Christmas shopping, eating out too much, and other miscellaneous expenses we spent way too much money. Again, I wasn’t tracking our expenses either. As a result, we over drafted our primary checking account. I used part of our emergency fund to cover the overdraft and associated fees. We also somehow manged to spend all but $200.00 of $1,000.00 primary emergency fund that was there. Funny, I am not exactly sure how that happened. I find it truely amazing how one can spend nearly $500.00 and not exactly be able to describe how. Just goes to prove that the little things can really add up quick (a.k.a. The Latte Factor).
4 – We’ve been overspending again
Our overspending was particularly evident during my 3 weeks of vacation over the holidays. We’ve eaten out far too much, been buying far too many things, and just living high on the hog again. The good news is that since we sold a bunch of stuff last year and paid off 4 credit cards, we have a pretty decent pad between what we normally spend and how much I make. But our overspending really bit into our credit card payments. I don’t even want to think how much extra interest the credit card companies received as a result of my mistake. Actually, maybe I’ll go look as that will kick me in the butt a little more.
The slap back to reality
As I told you, yesterday I paid the price for my procrastination and my return to old habits. Fortunately my wife loves me enough to really lay into me when I need it and that she did. She gave me plenty of time to think about it by myself for a while as well. Which while painful, was good. Tonight I will be doing our budget for January, entering all of our expenses and figuring out where we are. I’ll pay all of our bills, update our net worth, and plan out our budget for next month. In other words, I’ll do all of things I recommend you guys should do. We committed to starting out Monday evening budget meetings again as well.
I’m really ashamed that I slacked off so much. Integrity is something very important to me and when I compromise that and it impacts others, it tears me up. I compromised my integrity with my wife, my kids, and with you. I take full responsibility.
As my one of accoutability partners I felt I needed to share my mistakes with you and sincerely hope you will respect me for doing so. I also hope that you’ll see that behind this blog and these words is a real person, just like some of you: A person that makes mistakes and suffers the consequences, a person that falls into old habits as easily as anyone else. But I also want you to be aware that I am a person of honesty and integrity. I’ll tell you when I screw up and admit my mistakes and imperfections. While I expect many of you to be disappointed, I hope you’ll also respect me for being open and candid with you. I’m not perfect, but working hard to head in the right direction.
A new season of American Idol has kicked off, and being a person who plays instruments and sings (well, I used to at least), American Idol is a show I really enjoy watching and can appreciate. So in the spirit of Randy Jackson, I’m just “keeping it real” just as I expect others to do. Thanks to you for listening and thanks to my wife for loving me enough to both kick me in the rear and forgive me at the same time.