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Personal Finance Confession Project

Be This Way tagged me to be part of the personal finance confession project. She wanted to share one of her own and thought it’d be more meaningful if other people shared theirs as well. Thinking about my weaknesses actually got me motivated to act, so it was a very useful project idea.

Here’s my confession: I’m afraid.

I’m very good at being scared. I don’t like change much. So even when I know that something is a good idea, that doesn’t mean I’ll do it. At least I won’t want to do it if it involves risk. Unless something’s actively painful or frustrating, I probably won’t change it if I think something might go wrong. It actually knots my stomach.

So I let things stay at the status quo. And it’s embarrassing to admit.

I’m not too scared to pay bills or anything like that. I’m not too scared to make sure that we always have money available.

But I don’t like making big money management moves. I guess we could pinpoint it and say those are what scare me.

In thinking about all this, I pinpointed 3 money management moves I should make. And I’ve already made progress on two of them.

First, I never got direct deposit properly set up. This is because I had only just set up my Wachovia account when I started both my current jobs (not counting freelancing) and I was scared that something would go wrong and I wouldn’t have access to my money.

Then the one place’s HR department moved to another location  and the second’s required a special form from my bank when I tried to set it up a few months ago (see, I really did try on this). Since the two closest Wachovias are in areas I really don’t like (one is sketchy, one has horrible traffic problems), I didn’t want to make the effort. That part’s more about hassle than fear…

After I got tagged, I took the time to go to Wachovia and get the form. Since it was Friday, there were a million people depositing their checks or cash (I just use the nearby ATM for that) in line in front of me. And then getting the form was mildly stressful. But I got it. And it’s over. I turned it in at HR and she informed me which payday the direct deposit would start. Done.

I still have to go to the other one, but it’s a start.

Second, I wasn’t keeping as much money as I should in savings. I have it set up so I can easily transfer money from ING to Wachovia if necessary (and the other way) but I had more money than I needed in my no-interest checking.

So I moved most of it to my ING account. I still have more than enough in checking. I’m comfortable with the setup and happy that my money will be earning interest.

Third, I still have my pre-marital bank account open. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but since it has a fee I should close it. If I want another checking account, I can always open a free one with Wachovia. There’s no reason to keep paying this fee. Stupid tax.

However, it scares me because I used to have some automatic debits set up. What if they don’t get moved to the new account properly? The finality of shutting down the account and the faint possibility of penalties keep me from doing it. And the awkwardness of shutting down an account whose only branch locations are in Delaware. But I suppose I could ask my dad to do it (he’s on the account) if nothing else.

So my plan for solving that is to transfer all but $250 (more than enough to cover the auto debits) and put my card away so I don’t accidentally use it. Go through my bank statement and identify all auto debits (I shouldn’t have any outstanding checks, haven’t written one from that account in 5 months). Change them all.

Leave the $250 in for another 30 days (setting a reminder). Then try to transfer that as well (I don’t know if they’ll let me transfer out everything). Do my best to close the account and get dad to do it if they want someone in person.

So that was my confession. I’m not going to actively tag anyone, but please feel free to tag yourselves. Or share in the comments about something you’ve been struggling with. I hope that you can also come up with a plan to do better. I’ll let you all know later how the rest of this goes. 🙂

{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine June 30, 2008 at 11:18 am

This feels like “PostSecret” for the personal finance set.

I guess my confession is that I have more than 3-months’ worth of reserve money sitting in a money market account that I don’t know what to do with. I’m too nervous to invest the surplus in the market, even though right now is the best time to do it because everything is so low.

The least I could do would be to build a CD ladder, which I haven’t gotten around to doing but will now that I’m under scrutiny.

I guess confession is good if it lights a fire under us to start cleaning up our money house!

BeThisWay June 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

What a great confession! I think you are not alone. Fear keeps me out of the stock market, and likely from a few other things, too.

Thanks so much for participating!

Jim June 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm

OK, so here’s my embarrassing confession:

Even though I work for a stock investing software company (working on their website) I have no clue about investing in the stock market. I just write a check, hand it over to my broker, and he advises me. Of course, I always take his advice – and it could be the worst advice in the world and I would never know!

For me, it boils down to feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of investing. I get hung up on what I don’t know, and that prevents me from engaging the market and learning.

Bottom line: I need to jump in and start swimming, cause that meager interest rate I’m getting in my savings account is barely above inflation!

Boy, I feel a lot better now that I got that off my chest!

Stacey June 30, 2008 at 4:15 pm

You’re not alone! I’m still trying to close my pre-marriage checking account nearly a year after the wedding. Everytime I go to do it, the customer service line is too long or I just chicken out.

I can’t even use the checks any more, because people throw a fit that my maiden name is printed on the checks. But there is just some comfort in knowing it’s MY checking account, and the first ever checking account I opened. It’s served me well…

I’ve kept $1.72 in that account for 6 months now, and haven’t had any activity for 7 months. It’s time to close that account! Good luck with your banking issues as well.

Gypsie June 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Closing a bank account in another state shouldnt be a problem. I closed one in another country! You should be able to send them a letter or a form requesting that the account be closed and a check for the remaining balance mailed to you. If you want to electronically transfer it, it could cost you a fee, but checks are usually free. Make sure you include your account number on the form that you either mail or fax. If the bank has a website, it should have info on how to close the account. If not, then just call them.

Stephanie June 30, 2008 at 6:26 pm

And now you’ve been tagged for another meme…check out my blog for the info.

mrsmicah June 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm

I just wanted to update that I made even more progress on this! Today I opened and ING checking account (I already had a savings there, so it took a minute or less) and funded it by withdrawing the $1000 from my old checking account.

The transfer hasn’t yet gone through, of course, but in a couple days the old one will only have the $500 left in it.

My dad reads my blog and he was also nice enough to e-mail me and assure me that he’ll help with the closing. Thanks Dad!

Sara July 1, 2008 at 12:43 am

I would’ve kept my pre-marriage account open forever, just because I liked having one account that was private. The problem? B of A wouldn’t stop dinging me for fees on every chance they got. Yeah, that one got closed really quickly once the fees starting kicking in!

And I have to say, the big money moves get way easier with repetition and exposure. Things that would’ve made me freak out just two years ago (and actually did make me freak out) are now old hat. The first time is definitely the hardest.

Little Lugs July 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

I really identify with this – fear is what kept me from really confronting my financial situation for so long. It’s blogs like yours, The Simple Dollar, and others that finally helped me face the fear – and I find that taking action and knowing where I stand is FAR less scary than avoiding and not knowing. No matter how high my debt (which, as it turns out, is less than I feared!), I feel in control now that I’ve faced it and named it and developed a plan to tackle it.

Kristen July 1, 2008 at 8:56 am

I have a huge fear right now. The possibility of buying a home. Obviously it’s a really big deal that probably gives everyone some nerves. My fiance and I are getting married in a month, and we really need a better home (we rent now and the house has some real safety/health problems) in a safer neighborhood.

I actually had a panic attack a couple of weeks ago when we started talking seriously about one house we like on the market. Right in the middle of a restaurant I hyperventillated and turned all red and splotchy. It was not pretty.

vered July 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Sounds like a great plan!

And it’s GREAT that you’ve already made progress.

RacerX July 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm

It took me a long time to do Direct Deposit…I know it is silly, but I like receiving something real for my work at the end of a pay period.

Heck if they walked up and paid me in cash I would love it!

But it really does make it simpler, especially when traveling and over holidays. Plus generally you get you money in your account faster!

deepali July 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm

My confession – I am not afraid enough.

And hey – is that RacerX I see above?!

DebtKid July 1, 2008 at 7:28 pm

My confession would be that lately I’ve been feeling that I think about money issues TOO much in my life. You need a healthy balance, right? Money on the brain 24/7 isn’t a healthy balance.

I would just caution to make sure and watch the old checking account very carefully since you just moved quite a bit of money from it. The last thing you want is a bunch of overdraft fees! : )

Fabulously Broke July 3, 2008 at 7:38 am

Why not make a list of all the debits that come out automatically for one month, THEN switch to a new account, move them babies over, keep the old account open for 1-2 months then close it?

dogatemyfinances July 3, 2008 at 9:11 am

I just wrote my confession. I have almost 50K in those age-based funds. Those are not the right fit for me, they’re just plain lazy.

sfordinarygirl July 4, 2008 at 1:28 am

My fear is letting go of easy access to my money.

I have about $50K sitting in high yield (not really high yield lately) savings accounts and cds. I haven’t done much with moving the liquid cash into some better investments. I’m scared too – the money is so accessible. I don’t have to worry about letting it work itself out in the markets.

I’m taking the first step by talking to a financial adviser about ETF investing and already have 5 ETFs I’m monitoring in Google finance.

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