Keeping it real: Confessions of a personal finance blogger

By glblguy

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.

53 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Keeping it real: Confessions of a personal finance blogger”

  1. moneychallenge Says:

    I think this is a great post! What you have written here is going to be MORE helpful to MORE people because you have just modeled for us how to take responsibility for our mistakes and how to pick up the pieces. That’s what many of us struggle with. You are reminding us that just because we go off track a little it doesn’t mean the whole journey is over and we should give up. So I for one thank you for sharing this experience.

  2. Lynnae @ Says:

    I agree with moneychallenge. Nobody can be perfect, and while I’m not into making excuses (and you obviously aren’t either), it’s nice to see that you’re human. And here I always thought you were this super-organized-have-it-all-together type. ;) I think it’s good to see that you struggle with the same things everyone else does. And it’s inspiring to see that despite setbacks, you’re still going to press on.

    Which reminds me, I need to do my budget for January, too. :(

    In the spirit of Randy Jackson: Great post, dawg!

  3. paidtwice Says:

    lol at all the Randy Jackson references. As someone with perfect pitch I can’t bear to watch AI until they are past the audition phase. Seriously… dawg.

    Confession is good for the soul. ;)

    Seriously though, I admire you so much for writing this post. I understand how hard it must have been for you and I can completely relate to it. When I decided to put part of my car repair on credit I felt like I was letting down my readers and myself because I had sworn I was past having credit bail me out of things. Writing the post about that honestly made me feel sick to my stomach.

    but I’m human, and so are you. We can only try to move forward and do our best and not let our past mistakes rule our present day. Kudos to you for figuring out you need to make a change and for taking the first steps. And… bye bye Chase!!

  4. Emily Says:

    How dare you be human? :)

    The best part of all of this is it happens to the best of us. And you’re owning up to your mistakes and moving forward.

    An inspiring post!

  5. Sara Says:

    As a new reader to the PF blogs, I must say that I REALLY, REALLY look forward to a new post from you on my reader. My husband and I are also Christians and I LOVE the slant of your messages. This post was probably the best one I’ve read in the last 2 months. We too are struggling with how to pay off debts, live more frugally, etc. and this post just proves that one needn’t be perfect all the time to make worthwhile accomplishments. Thank you so much for your bravery. Now if only I could summon some bravery of my own to talk to my car company and credit cards……

  6. WJ Says:

    At least you are on the right track once again. I know from experience how easy it can be to place financial decisions on the bottom of the list. Not only do I feel bad for not staying up to date, I put off doing it even longer because I want to go just a little while longer without “facing the music.” Great post, and great confession. Again, getting back on track it a key step, although a difficult one.

  7. Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    I forgive you :grin:

    Seriously, though, the first step in getting back on track is realizing you’re off track in the first place. Don’t beat yourself up, just learn and move on in the right direction.

  8. Heather T Says:

    I love your blog and really appreciate your honesty. I think it’s awesome that you are willing to “keep it real” with your readers. Everyone will respect you more for it. Don’t beat yourself up over it too badly, just learn from it and move on. Thanks for all the awesome advice!

  9. sunsail Says:

    Hey! Nothing slapped me in the face today!! NICE!! :) Again, great article. I think I will become a GLBL regular, too!! Since I’ve only read a few of your articles, please point me in the right direction if I’m wrong. You, as well as 99% of all partnered PF writers, assert how both parties have to be involved, or at LEAST in the know of financial undertakings. The many instances of “my wife and I…” and “we overspent…” leads me to believe that you’re in this boat, too. Pardon my ignorance (and it IS ignorance, since I don’t know what the arrangement is), but why didn’t your wife pick up the slack when you were too busy to do the budget? Why didn’t she say, “Honey, put that widget down; we have to make extra payments on the credit card this month” or something to that effect? I’m not pointing fingers, only wondering if your wife is accountable for more than just “laying into you.” :)

  10. Ed Says:

    I just started reading your blog because of the cross post on Get Rich Slowly. I am glad you wrote what you wrote. I will continue to read because at least your honest. When you fall off the horse you have to get right back on. I look forward to your future postings.

  11. Erin Says:

    Well, I for one will NOT be taking your site out of my reader.

    None of us are perfect and your openness will help us all learn. Hang in there!

  12. Laura Says:

    Thanks for sharing your situation. We all are human and I know I don’t always make the best financial choices everyday. I love reading your blog not only for the good advice, but I love seeing how other people cope with it. I’ll continue being a loyal reader.

  13. Randall Says:

    Life happens. People get out of habit. Dieters fall off the wagon, as do alcoholics, drug users, and PFBloggers. The main thing is to make sure you get on the horse again.

    I doubt there’s a person out there that hasn’t lost focus of their finances more than once. I know I have.

    Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. Now’s the time to get back on the saddle.

    I appreciated the come-clean message, but if it’s forgiveness you’re looking for, you already had that unconditionally from all your friends here.

    PFBloggers and their readers end up being an ad-hoc support group, and we SUPPORT each other. Good times and bad.


  14. Flexo Says:

    You’ll get back on track. Everyone has lapses. You haven’t killed anyone. Since you’re being honest with yourself (and by extension, with your readers), you have nothing to worry about.

  15. MMJ Says:

    Awesome post! Great to see that you are getting back on track before are in a “snowball” of the bad variety. Like others have said, we are all human, it shows what type of integrity you have. BTW, this is the first post of yours I have read. What a start!

  16. Mrs. Micah Says:

    Nice follow-up to yesterday’s post about us all being human.

    I’ve made some stupid mistakes even with blogging about things and sort-of knowing better. Great job getting back on the right track!

  17. Tasha Says:

    Nice post.

    Just last night I was thinking about possibly falling back into old habits. I thought I was being good for now because it is now, but that maybe in the future I would start slacking bit by bit. It had happened before!

    Don’t worry, you’re still doing great :)

  18. Susan Says:

    Ha! Your post was timely for me! It was a good reminder that we’re all human. We makes mistakes. But the trick is forgive yourself, to learn from the mistakes, and strive to improve.

    Sharing your confessions takes guts, but I believe your readers will respect you for it. Plus, as others have commented, it shows you’re human. And I think people can relate a lot better to those who show they’re human! ;)

  19. SingleGuyMoney Says:

    Oh no, Gibble is human! That’s pretty cool that you are able to own up to your mistakes.

  20. glblguy Says:

    @Everyone – Wow…some of your comments made me laugh, many made me feel really good, and a few others almost brought me to tears! I have the best readers of any blog anywhere. Thank you…Thank you so much for your support, understanding, and just for reading my crazy daily ramblings :-) You guys rock!

    @sunsail – My wife and I have certain responsibilities that are ours, hers are things like the clothes/house, food and taking care of our 6 children. Mine are providing our income, cars, lawn, and our finances. While we make our financial decisions together and communicate, it’s my responsibility. I wasn’t busy, I was just slacking. She kept reminding me and trusted I had things under control. Funny, I thought I did too. Oh well. This has nothing to do with her. She would have gladly helped if I would have asked, she trusted that I was doing what I agreed to do.

    My wife is VERY accountable for more than “just laying into me”. She keeps our house clean, puts dinner on the table every night, is the primary caregiver for our diabetic son, and takes care of our 6 children. I’d say she’s the busy one.

  21. Lurker Says:

    finally, a pf blogger who is willing to be honest about how difficult this really is. it’s so much more than the ever-convenient “5 easy ways” lists and “just use the debt snowball” commentaries that i so often read.

    phew. i feel vindicated in so many ways after reading your post! thank you for being candid, and thank you for being genuinely real.

    keep up the good work –

  22. mary Says:

    Thanks for the post. It made me think of something I’ve read over at ‘you need a budget’ – rule 4 is to roll with the punches. Loosly translated it means that when you make mistakes one month you adjust for them in the next month and keep going. That is exactly what you are doing. You and your wife are obviously quite a team – I applaud your determination to get the debt paid off. It sounds like you have made the necessary course correction and are back on the right track.

  23. Four Pillars Says:

    Wow, I’m unsubscribing after this revelation… just kidding!

    Very interesting post, budgeting is not that hard to lose track of when you get distracted with other more interesting events.

    I didn’t know you had 6 kids – wow! I think it’s great that you can keep track of your finances at all! :)


  24. Patrick Says:

    Your wife sounds pretty awesome. ;)

    Actually, my wife has the similar ability to kick me in the pants and forgive me at the same time. She is my biggest motivator. :)

    As for your confession – it just means you are normal. You have made great strides in getting out of debt so far, and you will continue to do so. I’ll be happy to read your blog the day you are out of debt and can announce it to the world! :)

  25. Chief Family Officer Says:

    I liked this post very much. I think honesty always wins me over, so you definitely haven’t made me want to unsubscribe – on the contrary, you’ve turned me into a bigger fan than I already was. Part of what makes blogging so wonderful is the sharing of the bad with the good, and the sharing of your return to better money management will be valuable to your readers. After all, we all go through the same sorts of cycles.

  26. KMunoz Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a month or so now and have learned quite a bit from you on how to budget, get better deals, etc. That being said I appreciate you showing us how you’ve made mistakes (like the rest of us!) and how you plan on getting back on track — it’s part of life. I hope you don’t beat yourself down too much for this all, because you are an inspiration to many of us!

  27. Matt Keegan Says:

    Money is a frequent conversation starter between my wife and I, sometimes I wish it wasn’t that way. It is easy to get off course and getting back on track can take some work.

    So, I am glad for those times we take to map out a plan — I believe the Lord blesses our candor even when we mess up.

  28. Brian Says:

    Like your site. You got knocked down but not out and the true test is will you lie there or get back up and fight on. So here’s to all: Keep getting back up!

    Life happens when your planning your life

  29. Lee Says:

    Thanks for being so honest about your finances. Really, with all that you seem to have going on, I don’t blame you for easing up during the holiday season…it will be fine, though, since you’ve realized you need to get back on track…your integrity hasn’t suffered, not to my mind, anyway. This is actually the essence of the Gospel message, of fallen man being forgiven and us being changed day-by-day by His glory and His Word. If you weren’t so obviously walking with Him, you wouldn’t have noticed or cared that you stumbled…be blessed, brother. It’s all okay.

  30. fathersez Says:

    You are much better than maybe 95% or 98% of us.

    Thank you showing us a guide on how to handle “going slightly off track on fnancial plans.”

  31. glblguy Says:

    Thanks again everyone, your comments have been a true blessing to me and to be honest have been emotionally overwhelming! God bless all of you!

  32. Money Blue Book Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience…maintain that family harmony!

  33. M3 Says:

    I loved your post! This is the REAL world…life isn’t ideal, we all get off track. The difference between success and failure isn’t staying on track, but rather getting back up and getting back on track one more time than you fall off. Thank you so much for your honesty and integrity. I, for one, don’t read these blogs to read about perfect people. I read them to help ME stay on track, to understand that I am NOT the only one struggling to change the way I live, and that I am NOT the only one who hits serious speedbumps along the way. Thank you! (P.S. It was because of this post that I subscribed to your blog…I’ve been here before, but didn’t think I could relate to a perfect person.)

  34. glblguy Says:

    @M3 – Thanks, glad to have you as a subscriber. Trust me, not perfect, not at all :-) Thanks for your comments!

  35. guinness416 Says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not the only blogger whose fallen off the wagon, just one of the few admitting it.

  36. Michael Carpetner Says:

    It’s called life. It happens all the time. Mistakes are a big part of that life and how we handle and decide to move forward off those mistakes are what is important. Also, a bit of honesty goes a long, long way. Great post

  37. Pete Says:

    you owning up to this stuff just makes you seem more human, and makes your blog more readable to me. Nice job – and get back to work on that budget! No slacking with american idol!! :)

  38. jblee Says:

    Because of this post, you’ve made me an avid reader of your blog.

    I really admire your honesty, and the courage of letting us know you’re faults and mistakes. Only a few people are willing to do that.

  39. Alvin Says:

    Great post – I just wrote one on my blog that says the same thing – a ‘confessions of a personal development blogger’ if you will, called ‘Just Walk Along’.

    I think it’s important to ‘keep it real’. It’s easier to hide beneath a veneer of perfection behind a collection of words, but the power of a blog is to be able to reach a real human being, not a PR message. And I think we have to fess up to that.

    It’s still something I’m working on and I commend you for your honesty. All the best in getting things back on track :)

  40. Natural Woman Says:

    shucks, we fall down all the time and go off course, the important thing is not to stay there. nobody handles their finances 100% correct all the time but suze and dave.

    dont be too hard on yourself. my budget isn’t always written out, but that doesnt mean i’ll stop telling people to do one.

  41. Alcazzarre Says:

    Maybe Alcazzarre could help you to solve your problems? You’r welcome pal.