This Is Not A Personal Finance Advice Column
But I will tell you exactly how bad I am with money so you don’t have to be.
This post is a few things: A cautionary tale, a PSA, a story about money, and an explanation of how I finally attempted to get my shit together in a small but meaningful way. I am not known for being good with money: As I explained last week, I’ve never really “had” money so it did not make sense to me to learn how to be better about handling money. I might as well have bought a children’s toy cash register and learned about savings that way, or played with Monopoly money.
But at the beginning of this year I decided I would finally do what I said I would do for years but never did, which is cancel all my recurring payments that I don’t really use anymore or that are no longer serving me. Due to the privilege of spending a lot of time inside and not seeing other people anymore over the past year, I have plenty of time to do this, so why not? I also promised myself I’d do a bunch of other finance stuff, like merge my 401ks from previous jobs into my current 401k, add more money from each paycheck into my 401k, and learn about investing. I have done literally none of the other stuff but I did spend the past three weeks tracking my spending and learning where my recurring payments are coming from, and then canceling the ones I don’t use anymore.
I am decidedly not a “personal finance” news person. I worked for a website once where there was a dedicated personal finance section, and the young reporters who wrote for it would do things like take out $100 in cash on Sunday and not spend any money other than that $100 for the whole week and then write about their experience, and what worked and what didn’t. Other personal finance stories I read on other websites involved people in their 20s paying off $100,000 in debt or buying a house before the age of 26. A footnote in these aspirational stories, written off like it didn’t make all the difference in the world, were facts like: these people were living at home with their parents and had no living expenses, or their parents paid their rent, or they were otherwise independently wealthy. I have since found better personal finance advice and news in resources like the Financial Diet and the Billfold (RIP).