How Do You Learn To Like Personal Finance? ($10 Question)

Your Advice - help answer readers' questions Probably the most difficult step in getting ones personal finances in order is the step to actually begin working on them. If you have a great adversion to looking at your personal finances, it makes it that much more difficult as this reader knows:

I hate personal finance and my finances shows this. They are in terrible condition and even though they are bad and getting worse, I have absolutely no desire to do anything about them because the thought of dealing with them makes me ill.

I find myself in a terrible position. I know that I need to begin to get my finances in order, but the thought of doing so is so nauseating that I can’t even bring myself to take the first steps.

Looking at your website it is obvious that there are people that enjoy working on their personal finances. How did they convince themselves to feel this way? Are there some things that I can do to make myself tolerate them (let’s be honest, there is not a chance in hell that I will ever like them). Is there anything that you could suggest that might help me with this problem?

If you were to give advice to someone that hated finances, but knew that he needed to do something to begin getting them in order, what suggestions would you give to him?

If you have an opinion you’d like to share to help this reader out, it could be worth $10 as this is part of our $10 comment series and would be greatly appreciated by all those curious about the same topic.

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7 Responses to How Do You Learn To Like Personal Finance? ($10 Question)

  1. Traciatim says:

    I simply realized that the key to prosperity and comfort in the future is planning today. Then I started blogging, taking trips to the library, and reading everything I could online.

    My finances are still waiting for all this to be helpful, but once I’m not as stressed about money because I have my emergency fund, and I pre-pay some of my large mortgage, and get all the insurance docs and papers in a row. I’ll be able to come home, sit back and think ‘Everything is taken care of’. This is much better than coming home and worrying if there is enough money to pay my power bill because it’s winter in Canada.

  2. Any problem is easier to ignore than to face. Until you start to look at your finances and see that there is a way out of the problem you are always going to be stressed. The problem isn’t just going to go away.

  3. chdivr says:

    Start thinking about you and your family as a company. You are the CEO. To run the company well, you need to know how much you and your family’s take home amount is. How much money do you have in banks etc? How much money do you owe in debts? What is the interest rates on these debts?

    CEO’s like to cut costs/expenditure and try to get more income/take home money.

    Hope this will get you motivated

  4. Debt Magnet says:

    I spent almost 9 years, from the time I entered college until just this year, ignoring my financial picture. Sure, I paid my bills on time, I didn

  5. lulugal11 says:

    I got motivated when I read all the stories by people who WERE making it debt freedom. I wanted to be just like them and I realized that there is a light at the end of the tunnel….it just takes some work.

    I also used my blog to help motivate myself and when I got all the reassuring comments from my readers I felt that I had some support.

    Another thing I found about loving personal finance is that there are so many tips out there. I not only found ways to save my money but I also found tips to manage my debt and ways to make more money.

    The best advice I can give here is to start slowly and make everything automatic. That way it will not seem overwhelming and then you can gradually increase.

    Instead of saying you have twelve credit cards to get under control, start with just one.

    Instead of saying you need to get a high yield savings account and an IRA and buy some stocks….just take a deep breath and start with something small. Get $2 transferred to your savings every month. This is a small enough number that you will not miss and then you can increase it.That is how I started and then I was able to finally get to $50 a month.

    Then take the steps to get a high yield account.

    Do each thing in stages and when one part becomes automatic then move on to the next thing.

    Personal finance is not a sprint like with the Hare in the Tortoise and the Hare story. It is like the Tortoise…..slowly but surely you will get there.

    Sometimes you will have set backs and you will want to give up….but don’t. Just keep moving on.

  6. Debbie M says:

    I think a combination of two things motivated me. First, I never got into credit card debt, just auto loans and education loans (and now a mortgage). So things never got too scary for me.

    Second, a sense of power. I never had much money growing up, and what I started having some disposable income in college (about $100/month in today’s dollars) it was very exciting to me. I remember being almost ecstatic to be able to buy my very own fingernail clippers and scissors. At home we had plenty, but I could never find them. With my very own, I always knew where they were, so I could use them whenever I wanted.

    Oh, another thing that helped was the idea that I was fighting the man. My last year in college they wanted me to take out two big loans. I made a conscious decision to refuse one of them and live very cheaply instead. I would go around thinking things like I’m glad I already found shoes with good traction before (I went to school in a snowy place), so I didn’t have to worry about that. It’s amazing how well you can live with just what you have already accumulated. And I was glad I was young and healthy enough to be able to walk everywhere. For example, I not only walked 1.5 miles to the grocery store, I also walked home with my groceries, in the snow, thus saving the quarter bus fare. Heavy things went in a backpack, the rest in a grocery sack.) Think about those “uphill, both ways!” stories your elders tell, and create some war stories for yourself.

    If you can find a way to reframe the situation as taking back the power and refusing to let evil debt get the best of you, finding little victories around every corner, that may help. I read a blog of someone who would talk about debt as if it were an arch enemy, personalizing it, trash-talking it, etc. It was great fun to read, and probably fun to do.

    Hey, maybe I should do that with these extra pounds I don’t need. (Oh, yeah, Mr. Cheeseburger? You think you can lure me into 600 calories with your steaming, cheesy goodness? Nice try, you wiley creature, but I have you by the throat. Because I have peanut butter and jelly, right here in the house. Mwahaha!)

    Another bizarro thing that helped me was that I like making handwriting pretty. So, I liked writing checks. So, even your embarrassing strengths can be bent to your will.

    The first problem is going to be dealing with that ill feeling. You do know that for stuff like this (as opposed to, say, going to war), it’s never as bad as it you think it’s going to be. I’d recommend breaking things up into small steps that don’t seem so horrible in themselves. It sounds like you think the first step is something like adding up all your debts and seeing what a horrible number that comes out to. Or writing down everything you spend for a pay period and comparing that to your income. Those can be quite scary or intimidating. I’m not sure what kind of first steps might seem okay to you. Maybe one of these?

    1) Double the minimum payment on one of your credit cards.

    2) Look up the interest rates on all your credit cards. Then take the worst one out of your wallet.

    3) Call your favorite credit card company (or least horrible one) and ask for a rate reduction.

    4) Try to buy nothing for a whole day.

    5) Ask a friend to do some of the big picture stuff for you and then recommend some steps.

    6) Actually, just ask a friend to brainstorm some ideas with you.

    7) Set aside a whole evening to do something, and have your favorite treat by your side and your favorite music playing in the background.

    8) Make yourself do something productive for just ten minutes: set a timer.

    9) Make a list of all the due dates for things.

    10) Ask your friends about how they chose their checking and savings accounts, then see how yours compares.

    Finally, how do you know you need to get your finances in order? Are they worrying? Is it just something you’re supposed to do, but you don’t know why? Do you wish you could visit Paris but “know” you could never save up that kind of money? Focussing directly on goals you have that will make you happier rather than on some vague dealing-with-finances type of goal is the only way to go.

    What do you most want? I wanted to be able to afford to live away from home, then I wanted to pay off my loans, then I wanted a car, then a house. Those were the big things. I also wanted little things like pens that didn’t glop. I also wanted the freedom to take advantage of opportunities to join my friends in rare but expensive opportunities. I also really like not having to scramble for funds for things (some people find that exciting and thrilling!).

    I wish you the best of luck.

  7. Hilary says:

    Something that has helped me is trying to find awesome savings accounts through various blogs. It’s almost like a treasure hunt. Now I feel like I have the best bank accounts available, which makes things like bill paying more fun. Not to mention there are fun sign-up bonuses from time to time…

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