Understanding Finances

Understanding Finances

I don’t know about you, but trying to wrap my head around finances, budgets, saving and all that other grown-up financial stuff makes my head spin.  Of course I understand the basic concepts but I’ve just never been one to track my money or really see where things go. I’ve never had to deal with investments and I have some money in RSPs but I couldn’t tell you what it’s doing or going or whatever it is it does in there.

Hell it could be making millions or I could be in the poor house but I just keep hoping that when it comes time for me to retire everything will be OK.  Such a stupid outlook, I know, but well, I’m being honest here.

I think a huge reason for this is that for most of my adult life I’ve never had extra money that needed to be tracked.  I was often living paycheque to paycheque.  Now, however, Gary and I are both doing pretty well and so we’ve started to really think about all the grown up financial things we should be doing.

Back in January I started working with a financial planner to try and help me get a handle on things.  Things were going well and then Gary and I got engaged and now the financial planner wants to know about Gary’s finances as well.  Well that threw me into a panic because I know Gary is just as bad as I am about keeping track of his money.  Also we kept our finances completely separate.

It’s not a sore spot with us, but he did his thing, I did my thing and it was good.  No stress, no worries and we just split everything 50/50.  I couldn’t even tell you how much he takes home a month.

So I went through this budget that he sent me and I completely guessed on where money went each month.  The planner just got back to me and of course there is huge chunk missing.  It’s not in the monthly expenses, it’s not in savings, it’s just…gone.  Probably spent on shoes, dinners, going out, gifts…well life.

Now the planner wants to meet with me and go over this budget in detail to try and find the money.  I feel like screaming at him that I don’t know!  I don’t know how Gary spends his money, or how much he spends.  Hell I can hardly remember how I’ve spent my own money.  The planner keeps asking me questions that I don’t know how to answer and of course I feel like an utter failure as an adult.  I should be able to handle this stuff.  It’s ridiculous!

Knowing that Gary would hate to take this on, I’ve decided to take charge of our finances.  I’m going to purchase a copy of Quicken and start putting in all the receipts and known finances I currently have for the year.  I don’t expect huge results this year but next year I’m going to be all over this sucker. I figure it takes three months to start a habit so if we start now by the new year we’ll be used to keeping track of everything and it’ll become a daily/weekly/monthly ritual.

I really think that this type of basic financial accounting should be taught in high schools.  I never learned this as a teenager and really struggled with it as a young adult.

I’ll post an update a bit later to let you know how I do with this new resolution.  I might have succeeded and become budget queen extraordinaire or I might just remain an utter failure in this department.

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