Near the end of my college career there was a sort of “Psychic Fair” on campus. As I recall, nobody charged us anything, so I got a reading from a Numerologist.
She basically had me fill out a form with some information about myself. I remember “full name” and “birthdate”, for example. Multiple calculations later, the right side of the form had four numbers filled into boxes with labels like “Destiny” and “Soul Urge”. The Numerologist slowly removed her glasses and looked at me quizically before telling me that all four of these core numbers were the same: 8.
“The number 8 Destiny suggests that the direction of growth in your lifetime will be a move up the ladder of attainment in the material world, to achieve financial security, and status amongst your peers.” source: http://www.astrology-numerology.com/num-expression.html
She explained that apparently, the only reason I was here on Earth was to learn how to attain and manage wealth. So, more than ten years later, why do I still have a negative Net Worth? Even putting metaphysics aside, it’s still a valid question.
I think there are a few primary reasons:
Though I considered myself an independent thinker at a very young age, you can’t decide to disagree with something if it’s never presented to you. My parents didn’t take the time to teach me how to save money, though they always told the story of how my oldest sister learned to be stingy by age seven. We definitely had classes called “Home Economics” in school, but economy never came up. It was all cooking and sewing… very progressive, I know.
Not paying attention
I’ve been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. For those that don’t have it: imagine that you’re watching TV, and the show gets less interesting. The channels automatically start changing, but you don’t notice the change until you end up back on the original program again. That’s what A.D.D. is like for me. The problem is that I didn’t know it was a treatable disorder until I was more than 30 years old.
I’m sure there were times in my life when someone was giving out some good advice about managing money, and I was happily daydreaming.
Funny story: the first four checks I wrote out to various utilities when I graduated from college all came back because I didn’t sign my name. It’d be funnier if they didn’t all charge me extra for the inconvenience.
Lack of ambition
I never had anything resembling a “career” until after I got engaged. As soon as I was responsible for someone other than myself, I suddenly felt a drive to improve myself, my brain, my prospects, etc.
So, now that I understand all of this, what am I going to do about it? Well, the ambition part has mostly taken care of itself. As for paying attention, I’ve turned money management into kind of a video game. Because everything is digital now (at least, it is for me, or I would probably lose it somewhere), I’ve got our Google Spreadsheet budget, and the bank Web site that I can have harmless obsessions over. In order to stay accountable to my goals, I’ve got you guys.
As for fixing my upbringing… well, I can’t. And since my wife and I don’t plan on having children, I can’t teach them the things I was denied. All I can do is urge you, gentle reader: if you have kids, set a good example and explain to them why you do what you do with the money.
So that covers my past. Next time I write I’ll explain all the things I’m still doing incorrectly. Here’s a hint: $595 car payment.
Updated June 23, 2014 and originally published April 24, 2008.