The New India Bride is ready to reveal a big secret. Are you ready? I suck at finances. Like really suck. Like super dooper suck. Previously, this never posed a problem because I just did whatever I wanted to do and somehow things just worked themselves out. If I wanted those designer shoes, I bought them. If I wanted that spectacular patent leather red purse, I bought it. If I wanted that speedy black sports car, I bought it. I earned well but I spent better. I spent so well that I really had not much to show for myself after being in the workforce for more than 12 years other than a good collection of handbags and pictures on Facebook of the fabulous trips I have taken (that counts, right?)
Never did my loosely managed finances cause any problems, let alone any stress, until the day I married My Leading Man. While we agreed before the wedding to maintain our separate accounts and to create joint accounts for our joint expenses, there were still plenty of discussions (one might call them arguments) about money. In the end, My Leading Man took the lead on managing our joint accounts and expenses (and did a great job) while I sipped mimosas and remained ignorant about how our joint money was being spent.
Ignorance is bliss until you realize you are stupid. In my case exceedingly stupid. I was taking no role in our financial well being and in typical Leave it to Beaver style was perfectly content letting the husband handle our financial affiars. The time has come to put down the mimosa and take a more active interest in our financial health. Here are the changes I made over the last few weeks.
FIRST, I increased my 401(k). Did you know women are far worse than men when it comes to saving for retirement. Before I got married, I assumed Prince Charming would have a big bank account. Well ladies, while Prince Charming may be rich he may not be around when you retire so make your retirement a priority for YOU starting now. I increased my 401(k) contributions to ensure I make the most of my employers matching contributions and maximize pre-tax benefits.
SECOND, I signed up for www.mint.com. This site links directly to your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and mortgages to present one clear, precise picture of your financial well-being. You can create a budget, track your spending against budget and see all sorts of charts and graphs about your financial health. Our financial information is all over the internet but Mint.com provides one consolidated view into your finances. You have a real and complete picture of how you are spending your money (whether you want it or not) and that view gives you the power to make different financial decisions.
THIRD, I am reading Daily Worth, a community of women who talk money. The site gives money tips each day that resonate with me. For example, last week they had a post on the spending avalanche, a condition most women suffer from. It is when you buy that one pair of killer earings and then end up spending even more money to construct an entire outfit around the earings – the fabulous dress, the shoes to match, the perfect clutch. You need or want one thing but end up buying 10 more things to support the one thing. You wanted to spend $25 and ended up spending $500. Yikes! What happened? Did you even see that avalanche coming? Did you know it arrived or are you just basking in the joy of all your purchases? For me, awareness is power. The next time I see an avalanche coming my way I will be sure to stop it!
This New Indian Bride is ignorant no more! Using some basic tools not only will I become more aware of how my money is being managed and make better choices but I will also have the satisfaction of knowing that all those hard earned dollars are going towards the financially healthy life My Leading Man and I want to lead.