Wednesday, February 14, 2007

If I just had more money...

The basic assumption is if we just had more money, all our problems would go away. Many parents tell me, "I teach my kids to save their money," thinking that equals "They'll know how to pay their bills." But teaching someone to save is teaching them how to NOT spend money. Paying bills requires knowing how to spend your money, as well as knowing how banks work, how to manage a checking account, and how to be smart about credit cards.

We daydream about buying a new house, new cars, and being able to travel, not realizing the amount of money management that is still necessary with the luxurious lifestyle.
Someone with a high income who lives in a really expensive house can get overwhelmed with all the bills and paperwork involved with maintaining their personal finances just as easily as a person making a low income living in a modest apartment.

I went to visit a client at his home. He had three months of mail piled up on his desk. He said bill collectors call him regularly and he's been trying to stay on top of things, but it's out of control. I sat down and spent an hour and a half organizing his mail and making a list of his bills. When I got to his bank statement, I noticed he had $65,000 in his checking account. I asked him, why he hasn't paid his bills? His response was, "I don't even know what I owe. It takes up all my time just to manage my business!"

Managing your personal finances isn't about how to get more money, it's about managing the money you have.