10.31.2011

I wish I could make money with my chili

FACT:  D. and I need a new plan when it comes to personal finance.  We're just not saving any money.  It's really frustrating, and thinking about money ruins my mood.

FACT:  Today, I won a chili cook-off.

SUSPICION:  I'd make a lot more money selling my chili than I would in my current gig as a glorified spell-checker.  And that is one recipe that I won't put on my blog.  Go get your own damn chili recipe.  Win your own damn rice cooker.

All morning, D. and I have been researching guides on personal finance.  We looked at Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, Suze Orman's The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke (which I already own and have read, but it was when I was actually young, fabulous and broke; the only thing I am now is fabulous, because even at 27 I don't feel young anymore), and we even considered David Bach's Smart Couples Finish Rich because we tend to take on money issues together.  For anyone interested, Simple Dollar has a list of these kinds of books, along with thoughtful reviews on each one.

Then we realized that we didn't need a typical "self help" book.  We wanted mechanical, technical advice on how to handle our money, not a Yes You Can!, "highly effective people" kind of thing.  Plus, I knew that Dave Ramsey had littered his book with Bible quotes, and I'm just high-maintenance enough of an atheist to find Bible quotes unnecessary in a book about money.  But whatever, books are weird. 

Anyway, so neither of us have mental blocks regarding finances; we don't avoid going to our bank websites, we don't ignore it, and we're not in denial about being thousands of dollars in credit card debt.  We're not even in thousands of dollars of credit card debt.  I don't max out my Kohl's card -- hell, I haven't even used it in months in an effort to save money.  D. doesn't blow the utility payments on poker games or restaurants.  We eat at home instead of going out, I use coupons, we redeem credit card rewards and grocery store card points, we research big purchases... the bottom line is, we're reasonable people who have no idea where all our money is going.

In the end, we settled on Eric Tyson's Personal Finance for Dummies, not only for the great reviews and relevance to our situation, but because it was $0.03 used on Amazon -- that starts us off on the right foot, yes?  Three cents.  When I was in college, I bought Suze Orman's hardback books out of a campus bookstore for $15-$20 a pop.  You'd think I'd learned enough over the years to not get stuck in this same situation again.

D. suggested that I blog about what we learn from this, so consider this the maiden entry in our... hmmm, journey?  Experiment?  I would say "paradigm shift," but ever since college, one of D.'s major goals in life is to punch Stephen Covey in the face.

Obviously, really personal details will be left out (salaries, statement balances), and I'll probably avoid mentioning how much my house is worth, but those of you that have my address could just look it up on the county assessor's website.  (Either way, I don't even know what my house is worth.  I know what my loan amount is, but these days, that's much different.)  Other than that, I plan to be pretty candid.

Let's get this started!  The book should be on our doorstep in a few days.

P.S.
I'm a blonde now.  The salon bill didn't help out our cause much.  Here I am with my brother -- we must have taken twenty pictures just like this that night, because we're really bad at getting our pictures taken.