This week I lost my debit card. I had no idea where it had gone. I searched my wallet, my pants my car. Nothing.
If I told you this was the first time I’d lost my card, I’d be lying. Sometimes I’m a financial nightmare.
Retracing my steps, I realized that I’d probably left it at a local restaurant where I’d met friends for lunch the day prior. Sure enough, one quick trip back and a chat with the manager….and my card was back where it belonged.
Why am I telling you this story?
First, it’s on my mind. Sometimes my systems don’t work the way I’d hope. Either we don’t have our family money meeting or I don’t do the research I’ve told clients and readers to do. I just go pick a stock instead. I want to be better. I’d love to be a role model every day for people reading this blog.
Second, and probably more important, is the idea that keeping your financial life “real” is probably your biggest chance of success with money, especially if you weren’t born into a financially savvy family. Maybe it’s time to forget “role model” and instead to go ahead and show people the warts. You’ll learn to work on your money better because you’re more public about it, and others can learn from your lesson.
I’ve been reading Austin Kleon’s bestselling book Show Your Work. The premise is simple: in earlier times artists and writers didn’t want to show you their work until it was done. However, now, because of social media and a quicker life tempo, many of us are just looking to connect. New discussions about work and value of sharing are emerging. People talk about masterminds, tribes and collaboration far more than when I was beginning my financial career.
That’s the problem with Kleon’s book (and it isn’t his fault….it’s the world’s problem). We don’t talk about collaboration, masterminds and tribes when it comes to our money. It’s harder for financial blogs to gain traction than it is for “mommy” blogs, fashion blogs or websites about video games. Boardgamegeek.com has over 10 million users. Board games. Lots of busy forums on that site.
Showing your warts, when it comes to money, doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If I can talk about better systems of using my debit card (and how to hang on to it), that could lead to a bigger discussion about how to better manage cash. It could even blossom into a full-blown forum thread about how we manage money on a day to day basis or even (and better yet) year over year basis.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
I like to dream about open money discussions. Maybe that makes me a money geek (that phrase should read, “I’m SURE that makes me a money geek”), but the idea of sharing thoughts…warts and all….about money, I find exciting.
- If we talked more about our problems evaluating mutual funds we’d find others who have the same problem…and we’d learn together how to fix it.
- If we opened up about our inability to keep a family budget, we’d discover a whole world of people who don’t budget….and we’d work together through those weeks that we struggle to stay on top of our checkbook.
- If we shared our issues with credit and credit card countries we wouldn’t keep buying stuff using next month’s income.
It’s a powerful idea, isn’t it? Show Your Work indeed…..that’s the best way to keep it real with your money, don’t you think?
Thanks to Shannon at The Heavy Purse for putting together this blog carnival about being financially real. Follow me on Twitter all day today AND on our Facebook page as we point out many of the other cool blogs writing on this same topic!
Photo (sidewalk spelling fun): Terry Whalebone
I just had a parent teacher meeting for my son and his teacher lamented about his problem of showing his work to get to his answers in math. I think it’s important for us to show our work not only to help others but to examine our own choices. If you don’t take the time to reflect on the choices you made and why, they it’s impossible to learn from them and not repeat them in the future.
Brian @ Luke1428
I agree Joe. Showing the warts doesn’t have to be viewed as a bad thing. In fact, in recognizing and sharing my own warts I admit to being like every other human on the face of the planet – mistake prone. We all make them and I’ve found the best learning (and conversation with others) often comes through admitting my mistakes.
Yes!! I 100% agree with all of this. Having openness when it comes to money is a good thing and it’s something that’s usually missing. I think the less judgmental you are, and the more open you are, the more other people will begin to feel comfortable talking about their “warts”. I hope my openness inspires others to talk more about money. It’s much needed in our culture!
Yes! No one is perfect, especially when it comes to money. We are humans and sometimes we leave our cards at the restaurant and much, much worse. But you’re absolutely right – if we were more comfortable showing our money warts and willing to build tribes and communities to help one another – we could learn so much from each other. I see so many people who feel frozen in their situation because they think they are alone. But you and I know that they are not. Thanks again for your participation and support, Joe! I appreciate it!
What a great post. Why do we have to be perfect? Instead of human, flawed and learning? I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I’ve learned from them and I’m still standing. I think that there is power in being open…and a sense of relief 🙂
Couldn’t have said it better!