Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Changes in Attitude

I started working on a break down of my credit card spending today and was able to complete the catagories on one card. Tomorrow, I'll work on the second card and hopefully have the results posted by Friday. Looking at my spending habits is a real wake up call that I have a lot of work to do when it comes to self-control. This got me thinking about my attitude towards money (and debt) in general.

This article, published in May 2011, talks about four unhealthy attitudes towards money. From those four catagories, I would probably place myself in the "Money Status" & "Money Worship" catagories. Looking back, I think a lot of my credit card use came from wanting to impress others, either by picking up a restaurant tab, buying a new purse, or getting someone the perfect gift (even if it was more expensive). After taking the Financial Values Inventory Quiz (page 3), my "values" (Personal Care, Social, Hobbies, Travel, Housing) reflect that attitude as well.

An article in the NY Times online quotes Eric Mills (founder of "The taboo around talking about money is ill-founded,' he says. 'When you’re the only person dealing with it, you’re subject to all of the dysfunctions we all have. If we could all be a little less uptight and more communicative and social about it, we’d be getting better advice, and it wouldn’t be the sort of thing that we stress about privately."

We didn't talk about money in my family. I don't remember over-hearing conversations between my mom & dad about money and I don't remember any conversations between my parents & I about money. I remember I was allowed to "spend half, save half" of any birthday or Christmas money received, but there was never any ultimate goal of the money saved. In fact, I don't even know where it went. I assume it went into the savings account my father turned over to me when I was 18, but I can't tell you for sure. As a result, I went to off to college with very little in my checking account, a credit card in my own name, and not a whole lot of common sense. You're correct if you assumed that the savings account was drained rather quickly.

Are you sensing a pattern here? I am.

I still struggle to talk to my husband about our finances as a couple. I feel we never have enough in reserve; He thinks I worry too much. He doesn't know how much revolving debt I'm currently carrying because I'm so ashamed to admit it. It's hard to disappoint the people you love. Don't worry, I'll tell him eventually. Baby steps. Last night I told him I was blogging about not shopping and saving money. He was happy I don't mention him by name.

How did you learn about money? Did your view of money as a child affect your relationship with money as an adult? Do you find it difficult to talk about money with your significant other? (I can't be the only one!)

Day Eight Spent: $0.00
Day Eight Saved: $0.00

oh oprah, you are so wise.


  1. I too had to learn about money the wrong way. When I went to college, I had no idea what a little piece of plastic could do. Needless to say I ended up with a whole lot of debt with a whole lot of nothing to show for it. I still remember hiding the credit card statements from my parents when they came in the mail.... I'll comment a bit more later... seeing that its 4:29 and I need to get ready to step out the door.

  2. "I feel we never have enough in reserve; He thinks I worry too much." Oh, how I can relate to this! Fortunately, these opposing attitudes somehow helped us eventually meet in the middle. He's helped me relax a bit, I helped him become more responsible.

    But you're right, communication is really important. I'm not sure how you guys have your finances divided/combined, but I will tell you this: We argued more when we had our finances completely separate. When we first got married, we did combine savings, but we had separate checking accounts. He'd "pay" me for his share of the bills each week, but we didn't track our spending and we really weren't in sync with one another in terms of our goals. We didn't talk about money often, but when we did, it was usually an argument.

    Now everything is combined, I have a spreadsheet that tracks our spending/saving/income by category, and even though I'm in charge of paying the bills, I give him regular updates on where we stand. If something needs to change, we decide how to tackle it together. It definitely requires us to talk about money more often, but frequent discussions can help prevent those money arguments from even happening. It's not terribly romantic, but it has to be done. ;-)