Sunday, September 14, 2008

. . . And then we're going to Japan

. . . Yup yup yup. Humor from my childhood. At any rate, Thing 2 and I are getting ready to go to the Oakland A's game for the Stitch and Pitch. Bag packed, and I'm looking forward to it. The nice people at KnitPicks replaced the broken cable with no problem, so her hat in progress is ready and I have two possible projects to work on. Not the Cobblestone, of course, though I did finally get a picture up. (Go see how close I am.)

So while I'm not knitting on that, I'm going to broach a subject that isn't usually discussed in polite company. Not what Suzee hinted at in her comments, although that was clearly the joke I was making -- running out of yarn is intensely frustrating -- but money and money management.

So here's a deep dark secret about me. I have some teflon-coated spaces in my brain, apparently. These spaces are where patterns for knitting lace would reside, along with the "knowing-where-your-wallet-is" and fiscal understanding. Pretend that you don't know these things about me, okay? Eric and I bonded over plumbing (a pastime which has continued), but one of the other first things he did for me was help me find the missing $5.00 or so in my checkbook. And this pattern has continued in our marriage.

Eric loves money management. He reads books about investing, dreams about investing, walks around knowing our balance sheet in his head all the time, and can rattle off a financial plan for our lives for the next ten years.

I nod and try to look marginally competent.

But really, I'm one of those women whose husband could be squirreling away money for some secret project or funding some bizarre political plot, and I'd never know.

Not that he's doing anything like that, but I have a hard time retaining information in that slippery brain part. And yet, I'm enough a product of the real world that I feel badly about this lack in my understanding and participation.

Okay, I'll do the obligatory here. I participate -- I am naturally pretty frugal, and I discuss big financial decisions in what I like to believe is a fully-participatory way -- but I don't have a grasp on any big picture, and not because Eric isn't trying to involve me. But if I were on my own, I wouldn't be able to sustain this spacey relationship to things like money and bills. [Realistically? I'd make my sister help me, but let's pretend that wouldn't be an option.]

I'm fortunate in that I have a trustworthy and super-competent spouse, but that doesn't relieve me of the responsibility to use my God-given brain, fuzzy spots and all. And back to my concerns about how I measure up against other moms? I'm envious of my money-savvy friends. So I'm reading a new book I got from the library: The Financially Confident Woman, by Mary Hunt. There are things about this book that get under my skin. It's breezily Christian in outlook, and probably the kind of Christian that I'm not, and it's aimed at women. I can think of at least one man, though, who might do well to run right out and read this.

So I'm reading that, and we are writing down every penny that goes out of our hands, trying to catch up on anything we missed during our week on Sunday evenings using the accounts we can access on the computer. Getting a handle on our spending seems to be the first and best way for me to get my mind, which works from the concrete to the general about money, around our big picture.

You may be totally on top of your money, and probably are able to knit complicated lace patterns by heart. I'm glad that there are basic helps out there for those of us for whom "Yup, yup yup" equals money understanding.


allisonmariecat said...

Good for you on trying to improve in an area that's challenging. I have similar aptitude as you on both lace and money issues... I'll have to order that book :)

Charity said...

I must confess that I'm more like Eric in this regard - I do the money management, and Stuart only participates as much as I drag him into it. :0) But a few years ago, we decided we needed to get a handle on things and went through the whole writing everything down exercise. Then we ditched the debit cards and used the envelope system for a year or two, until we felt we could use the cards the same as cash. It's been a few more years since then, and I confess I'm tempted to go back to the envelopes for a bit, just as a good reminder. :0)

Good for you, stretching yourself this way. I'm taking a college class this semester for that purpose, for myself.

meg said...

The roles are reversed around here- I'm the numbers geek & poor Chris is forced to sit down semi-annually to look at everything, just in case the random runaway steamroller gets me. It's not pretty, but he does try, Lord love him; fortunately, what he lacks in fiscal smarts is more than made up with his mechanical prowess.

Katherine said...

My husband might just be funding a bizarre political plot; I'd never know. Sounds like I could use the book. But we have done the write-everything-down exercise every couple/three years and it's been helpful. It's nice to have a good grasp on how easily money can slip away. So good for you - this stuff just isn't fun (for me, anyway).

patricia said...

I am so clueless about our finances, it's ridiculous. I married a finance guy, and he's good at this stuff. He actually likes it. If he says "we really need to cut back", I cut back. Sometimes I wonder if it's weird that I don't have a better handle on it all--but I have no doubts that I could manage things if I had to. I'm sure it would be a struggle, but I could do it. On the other hand, C is far less involved with homeschooling our kids--and that's okay with both of us. This is work *I* like, so everyone is happy.

Besides, since C deals with the finance numbers, it leaves the number area of my brain open to knit lace. I *can* do that. Maybe instead of checking out books on finance at the library, you should check out books on lace knitting. Sounds immensely more fun to me...