How Do Normal People Handle Their Finances?

I am not exactly sure how normal people handle their finances.  First thing is first, I don’t believe myself to be normal when it comes to the personal finance realm.  This is not to say I am extraordinary, but rather, I think a better synonym would be weird.

I write on a personal finance blog and work inside a financial planning firm, so sometimes I am disconnected from the “real” personal finance world.  The world which may include people who do not give a lot of thought about credit card debt, whether their monthly bills are optimized or whether they are simply spending more than what they are taking in.  I created this blog, at least in part, to talk about what I am doing with those exact topics and that just makes me weird:

  • I have a spreadsheet with my accounts and net worth
  • I have this blog where I publicly state my yearly and short term ($5K at a time) goals
  • I get inspiration by seeing people who I started blogging with really making a difference in their family’s lives
  • I am “forced” to research my watch list for dividend paying stocks (and then feel like crap if I don’t get a big enough investment in that month)

I doubt I’ll get much response, but for those of you who do not have a personal finance blog:

How do you handle your finances?

  • Do you keep a spread sheet?
  • Do you keep yourself accountable to anyone?
  • Do you and your spouse speak about money?
  • Is there a long term or short term plan? Do you share it with anyone?

4 Responses to How Do Normal People Handle Their Finances?

  1. Well, I do have a blog and I’m pretty obsessive. In the pre-blog period, though, I used Quicken to keep track of my finances — not a spreadsheet (didn’t know how to use Excel & thought spreadsheets were for accountants), but at least it did help to provide a picture of how things were going.

    Now, pre-Quicken, I didn’t have a clue. I kept track of my finances with a checkbook register, not a very efficient strategy.

    Pre-divorce, my husband handled our finances and flat-out refused to discuss the subject with me. He ran us into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. When I would try to discuss our finances with him, he would pat me on my pretty little head and ignore me. His long-term plan has always been to work until he dies, which is exactly what he’s doing right now.

    While I doubt if that’s normal, I do believe it’s pretty normal for people to think of credit-card, mortgage, and automobile debt as simply part of life. Most people can’t conceive of ever being able to buy a car in cash, and many carry a credit-card balance all the time.

  2. Prior to blogging, I used a spreadsheet for budgeting and portfolio tracking. I still do, although I also use Fidelity’s Full View, which uses Yodlee to track our accounts.

    The only person I am accountable to is my wife. We are both on the same page as far as living well below our means, but still spending enough to have fun and be happy.

    Our long term plan is to retire in roughly 10 years. We are on track for that. We use a moderate asset allocation for our portfolio.

  3. Quicken. Keeps all my payments, investments, cash flows, etc. in one place for eash reference and automatic net worth calculation.

    As far as day to day, we budget with a goal of living on 55% of our income and using the rest for investing, long term goals, gifts, etc. We’re not there yet, but making progress every month.

    And for the Mrs. Enwealthen? We’re definitely on the same page lifestyle-wise. And even though I do most of the bill paying, we sit down every month and go over our cash flows so we both know where our money is going.

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