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From Financial Integrity

Carol - The Struggle Continues

  • Rural, Northwestern United States
  • Multi-adult household


Pig insemination. It was the beginning of our financial journey spiraling downward. Long story short: Tried to ride the bull in 2000 – it looked easy – and fell off. 10,000 shares of Struthers, Inc (Swine Reproductive Biotechnology) was the unlikely, side-splitting start to my husband’s and my attempt at financial freedom. Our own irreverent, sleazy references to this penney stock were not, of course, to be uttered in polite company. And then there was Qualcom at $615/share. Ouch.

Online trading seduced us. What’s so hard about mousing over to the “Buy” button and clicking? Rose colored ignorance of Wall St. and the dot.com times, that’s what. Thank goodness no one knocked on our door at time with a bridge to buy. After the bubble burst, it was obvious that the pigs weren’t the only ones who got it. Our trail of financial bodies was long, and you’d think the painful lesson would have forced our noses to some grindstones, but alas. Logic predicts that for the next 10 years we would have saved saved saved… but, no no no.

This rational thinking, intelligent soul cannot get a grip on her financial reality. Maybe it’s a DNA thing. How else would you explain the blinders, the lack of planning or foresight to know that bank accounts are not forever? I see that bank balance and my mind apparently adds zeroes. $50 looks like $500; $200 becomes $2000. Every time I’m face-to-face with a want, my mind talks to me, “What’s $20? That’s nothing." Then once a year, that silly March comes, IRS crunch time. We look at those totals across the page — the ones that ALWAYS add up to more that our deposits — and promise ourselves that next year will be different.

I handed off all matters of finance to my husband six years ago. That was a coup. Giving up this lifelong task meant not only giving up the bill paying, but the worry that’s attached to it. My foot was still in the game as I faithfully entered each expenditure into our new cost-cutting strategy, Quicken. The checkbook now balanced beautifully, but I no longer thought about money beyond spending it. Unfortunately, keeping track of what you ALREADY spent doesn’t keep you out of the mall. You’d think a grown-up would know this.

Next, the ledger phase. This fancy 12-column spiral notebook was sure to get us on track. But again, money’s already spent by the time it’s recorded. Ahh, a light bulb; it’s the plan that I forgot. Too much time on where we’d been instead of where we were going. History is good information, but it doesn’t keep Visa cards from being swiped.

Was it faulty potty training? Was I spoiled as a child? Or maybe my family was dirt poor and I’m trying to make up for it? Perhaps too many games of Monopoly, where Boardwalk and Park Place were such easy pickin’s, and flinging money across the board to buy a second hotel guaranteed you’d be wealthy in an hour.

Through it all, one inroad remains: debt is zero. Still, 10 years later, the fear of making a wrong move lingers, perpetuating procrastination of the PLAN. Financial Integrity is still a carrot in the distance, but the distance between me and "the prize" gets shorter every year.


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