By Bruce Wallace
It can be fun to spend money.
But keeping track of what that cash is buying and where you are spending it?
Not so much.
And if you’re reading this and just sent a kiddo to prom and/or graduation, I feel your pain.
If you’re reading this and have a kid in college, you might be better off just going and reading your bank statements from a decade ago – just to remember how much money you had when you made less money….but didn’t have a kid in college.
Where does all your money go? It seems to go a little here and a little there….and before you know it, you’re avoiding purchases until that next paycheck.
A December survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education and Harris Poll found that 45% of adults in the U.S. Are living paycheck to paycheck. The truly wealthy don’t have to track their expenses – they can afford to hire someone to do that for them – but for the rest of us, it pays to have some sort of system of knowing where the cash is going.
Tracking expenses can be more than a chore, it’s emotionally draining, says Brad Klontz, a psychologist, financial planner and professor at Creighton University. “For most people, sitting down and tracking their expenses is a similar emotional experience to counting calories,” Klontz said. “It often generates negative feelings, guilt, remorse, shame or frustration.”
Of course, Mr. Klontz fails to admit that tracking expenses also leads to yelling, screaming and threats, plenty of threats.
Naturally, if you want to curb yourself or spouse from spending the family into the poorhouse, there is a cyber-fix – you can purchase apps such as Spending Tracker, Goodbudget Budget Planner or Mint.
Or, you could follow a few financial principles of my late father:
1. If you purchase anything at a convenience store other than gasoline, you’re a knucklehead.
2. If you can’t go a couple of weeks without using your credit card, you’re gonna be in trouble in a couple of months.
3. If you give your kid cash, you won’t likely see much of a return on your investment.
4. Cars are money pits.
5. Boats are worse than cars.
Dad was right more often than not when it came to money. He would never say, “Don’t have kids,” but he would often say, “Don’t have kids who go to the high school prom.”
Those kids who became famous a few years ago for make a duct-tape prom dress? Yeah, dad would have loved that group.
It has long been said that a fool and his money are soon parted.
My dad’s version was, “A father is soon parted from his money by teenagers.”
This past weekend I learned about what it costs for a daughter to pay for an Uber ride.
Dad never heard of an Uber ride. Based on what it cost, I seriously doubt he would like it, nor would he track that expense.
“Go take a hike,” he liked to say when I asked him for a few bucks for gas. He meant that phrase in more ways than one.