Over the past few weeks, I find that I’m focusing less on my finances. This is both good and bad.
When I’m looking at my finances on a daily basis, or even every other day, I know exactly what I have in my budget categories. I know where I can splurge a bit and where I really need to tighten the reins.
On the other hand, looking at my finances on a daily basis also means that I know how my investments are fairing. My retirement accounts should be “Set it and forget it.” Of course, by that I don’t mean never changing my investment strategy, but rather to remember that I’m in it for the long haul and not for day trading, so its best to not know that my stocks are rising and falling so much throughout the day. I think that peeking at my retirement accounts once a month when I update my net worth should be sufficient. And yet I can’t keep away.
Focusing on my finances and my budget also means that when things get out of my control, like they did this month with the cat’s surgery, I worry more. I have to continually see that large expense in my ledger and know that I’ll be working to “pay back” that budget overage for at least the next month.
Obviously, I think some combination of the two is best. I need to work more on ignoring my retirement accounts (but continue to make smart investment choices, of course), and about paying attention to my budget but also not fixating on it. I think it’s too easy to become a little bit obsessed about where every penny is going, and I think a lot of personal finance bloggers and blog readers probably fall into the same trap.
I look forward to the day where my budget can be more along the lines of “set it and forget it.” I’m already better at making smart choices and just knowing what I can spend and when. But I’m not quite there yet.
(As an unrelated aside, we are now less than 4 months from Christmas. Have you started your shopping yet?)
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.