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Why I Have No Money

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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.

To summarize:

“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:

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.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Sounds like you have had quite a struggle, it is great that you have started managing your money now. I definitely think that it is time that home economics classes were replaced with home finance ones.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Live and learn. Most blog readers had the realization that they needed to handle money differently and it is all up hill from there.

I feel your pain on the car payment. My pain is from the credit card and it is in the same ball park…

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avatar 3 Anonymous

If you really feel the drive to prevent others from making the same mistakes you did, in addition to the blog, you could teach a class at your local community center. Hey, you might even be paid for it! Or, even better, you could volunteer with an organization like Jump$tart, which helps teach kids financial literacy. You’ll feel good and beef up your resume.

Even if you don’t do either, this blog is very edu-ma-cational already… so thanks. :-)

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avatar 4 Anonymous

So are you going to do the Dave Ramsey thing? :)

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I think your idea about turning money into a video game is a smart one! That’s just what it is: a game.

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