You Work Too Hard Not To Care

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You work at least 40 hours per week, possibly more. You likely spend an additional 15 hours or more commuting. As a result, you probably work more than you do anything else: more than you sleep, more than you cook & eat, more than you watch TV.

Your profession is a significant part of your identity, and also has tremendous impact on how you perceive your quality of life. At the same time, your work is likely a significant source of stress in your life and frequently leaves you feeling exhausted. You probably studied for at least four years, and paid tens of thousands of dollars to your university, in order to attain the degree that got you this job.

This is your life.

And you are compensated for all of this this time and effort with your pay.

So why then are there so many people that don’t give a shit about their money?

I understand that not everyone is a “numbers person”, feels exhausted by their debt or is intimidated by the stock market, but failing to learn how to make the most of your money is a disservice to yourself. Even worse than that, however, are the people that say they cannot be bothered to do even the simplest personal finance tasks: track their spending, create a budget, or find a way to reduce expenses.

Managing your money is as important as earning it.

How do you have 40 hours (or lets say 60 hours, when you include commuting to and from your job) per week devoted to earning your money, but can’t spare 1-2 hours per week to take care of it?

It takes all of 5 seconds to write down an expense in a notebook or enter it into an app on your phone when you’re out & about. It takes less than an hour once a month to figure out your budget and calculate your net worth. It only takes a few hours to file your own taxes or to read a book about investing. And yet, people make so many excuses for why they don’t spend a few minutes or an hour each week to manage their money — and then promptly watch tv for more than 3 hours per day.

You don’t lack time, you lack motivation.

What is the real reason you’re not doing what you should be doing when it comes to your finances? Chances are the likely culprit is pure laziness.

If the thought of tracking every penny that goes out of your bank account is making your head spin, I have a revolutionary idea that will make it infinitely easier: stop buying so much stuff so often.

When I was paying off my student loans, I refused to buy anything on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Why? Not only because it made sure I spent less money overall, but the less often I made purchases, the fewer transactions I had to keep track of. By only buying things 4 days per week, I only had to keep track of my spending 4 days per week. That meant 3 days per week I was free of the hassle of writing down everything I spent that day.

The second thing I did, and still do, is automate all my monthly bills to a single credit card, and then pay that off once a month. This meant I was never scrambling to find $100 for my cellphone and I never forgot to pay my utility bill. By automating all my regular bills the only thing left to track is my discretionary spending. Couple this with a few no-spend days per week, and the number of transactions you have to track is probably 5 or less per week. Don’t tell me you’re too busy for that.

But managing your money is more than simply tracking your expenses.

I remember not paying attention to my money. Coincidentally, those were also the years when I didn’t have any.

I used to think of money as this weird intangible thing. More often than not, it passed in and out of my bank account as only numbers changing on a screen. I never considered keeping any of it, or using it to earn more money. I only understood it as something that you received in exchange for working, but some jobs paid more than others. I knew some people got it for nothing, because they’re parents had plenty or they were lucky in some other way. Enough if it t could buy you pretty much anything, though what was “worth” its price-tag was wholly a matter of personal opinion. There seemed to be no consistency, no solid “facts” around money or what money is for.

Well, there is, and they go like this:

1) Your spending is a reflection of your values

2) Your debt is the result of your choices

3) Your income is wholly in your control

It’s hard to take responsibility for your money.

There probably a lot of things you don’t know want to know about your money. Like, for me, how much I clearly value Starbucks coffee over Starbucks stock, and how that may or may not be the most expensive mistake I’ve made in my lifetime (joking… sort of). Maybe your trips to the mall outweigh your retirement contributions. Maybe your subscription to HBO will force you to carry your student loan debts around an extra 3 years. Maybe your debts cost you a relationship, or kept you from moving to a new city. It’s ok to find things you don’t like when you take a hard look at your finances. Hopefully it inspires you to change them. Of course, you have to confront them first.

Because strange things happen when you start paying attention to your finances:

  • you spend less money on stuff you don’t really want or need.
  • you find ways to earn more money.
  • you learn what costs you can reduce or cut out entirely.
  • you pay your debt off faster, and pay less interest in the long run.
  • your wealth grows faster, because you learn how to invest it wisely.

You work hard for your money.

Really hard.

40+ hours per week hard.

Nearly 1/3 of your waking hours hard.

Don’t tell me you’re ok with spending more than 1/3 of your time earning something you don’t want to take care of. That you don’t want to maximize the use of. That you don’t want to increase. Because I know you’re lying. The less you care about how you take care of your money once it hits your bank account, the harder you’re going to have to work to get it — and keep it.

If you want the ultimate shortcut to financial security it’s this: give a shit about your money. How you earn it, where you spend it, and what you can do to get more.


47 Comments

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  1. I completely agree that it is so important to track where all of your money is going. Sometimes that starts to get tedious, and that is always the reminder I need to just spend less! Too many transactions to record = too much money spent!

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  2. “If the thought of tracking every penny that goes out of your bank account is making your head spin, I have a revolutionary idea that will make it infinitely easier: stop buying so much stuff so often.”

    Yes, this! Sometimes I actually skip a purchase knowing I’ll have to log it. You can’t measure what you don’t track.

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  3. “How you earn it, where you spend it, and what you can do to get more.” – I think this is one of the most clear cut statements outlining financial security! My fiance & I also automate all of our bills to a single credit card. The glory of it too is with all the responsibility of paying it off in full monthly, we’ve earned enough points to book two round-trip flights abroad for a trip we have planned in two years (and then some). I absolutely love automation, especially since my checking account is mainly utilized for discretionary spending like you brought up. Once all my money is automated and put to their places to go to work (i.e. retirement plans, investing, short term savings), it makes it that much easier to track what’s leftover!

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  4. Reducing the number of transactions I make has been a huge time saver in home much time I spend understanding my finances! I’ve tracked every penny I’ve spent for the last 11.5 years. It is amazing to have that amount of data!

    My draft budget for 2016 shows me spending 2/3 of my budget on housing. That shows you that I strongly value a nice place to live and get a lot of enjoyment out of where I live. And then the next biggest chunk is 10% on travel! :D

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    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      hahaha that is so much data!

      I’ve actually never looked back at my tracking, though I imagine I have at least 5 years now of spending tracking..

      Reply
  5. Yes! And once you get into a good routine / habit of saving and being financially responsible, it becomes much easier going forward — a big pay off!

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  6. Can someone please explain why this is not talked about in the school curriculum?? Who needs algebra when they are drowning in debt!?

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    • Christian Gonzales

      preeeaacchh. Why they didn’t make us take a personal finance class in high school is beyond me.

      Reply
      • Honestly the only thing I learned about finances was how to write a cheque, that’s all I can remember!

        The school board expects things like finances to be taught by the students parents…however I bet you more than have of the parents today don’t understand the basics of saving, budgeting and paying down debt, let alone investing!

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  7. Great perspective. I continually exhaust myself with work and finding ways to earn more money when I really need to start with money management first.

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    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      I’m all for earning more but it’s fruitless if you’re not taking care of it! You’ll notice a huge difference in a matter of days (yes DAYS!) it’s crazy how fast it turns everything around.

      Reply
  8. I love your message, just give a shit about your money! So true, if people just paid attention to where there money was going I guarantee that would solve at least half their problems.

    Reply
    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      <3 <3 <3

      Prob even more than half, depending what they are! Caring about your cash solves debt, savings, investing, and income... now if it can just create world peace

      Reply
  9. I think a lot of people just see money as “a bag of hurt” that they are afraid of dealing with. As long as they have enough to have a roof over their heads and food on the table, they’re much less inclined to look at the bigger picture, long term consequences of their money habits. So I’m not sure it’s laziness as much as fear of opening up a blackbox and realizing what kind of a financial mess they’re in.

    There’s also the matter of instant gratification when you spend, and the constant bombardment by media to buy, buy, buy! The materialistic society we live in is completely counter to the idea of conserving and building wealth. It’s far to easy to accumulate vast amounts of debt than it is wealth, and far more socially acceptable to try and keep up with the joneses to have the latest and greatest. It boggles my mind that it’s “okay” to have a half a million dollar (or more!) mortgage, yet people look at you funny if you drive an old car. It takes effort and discipline to avoid spending, so naturally people take the easy route, buy stuff, and worry about the money later (i.e., never).

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  10. “Managing your money is as important as earning it.” Very well said! I honestly think one of the reasons causing this disconnect is the Direct Deposit of paychecks and to credit cards. We never really “feel” the money – coming in or out. So its just, Oh whatever…

    Convenience is a good thing, but we have to realize there are tradeoffs.

    Reply
    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      That’s true, and I totally agree. I almost never handle physical money, and never in the dominations I typically deal with it (I rarely carry more than $40 of cash).

      It’s easy to feel so dissociated from it.

      Reply
  11. Wow. That is such a powerful statement. I love it. That single line bears repeating every single day.

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  12. What you said is probably one of the most important rules of being financially independent. Tracking what you have is a good starting point!

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  13. Giovina

    This is so true. All through university I just spent whatever, thinking I’d easily pay off my loans at the end. I don’t regret the fun I had, and I think it is important to make the most of your time there, but I wish I had been a little more frugal. Now, I automate all my bills and give myself a cash allowance for my personal spending, which has helped me make much bigger debt payments. I get asked by my friends all the time how I managed to reduce my debt so fast and I tell them, but they still aren’t willing to restrict themselves that much. It’s a matter of priorities and knowledge, you have to be willing to make sacrifices for what is important to you. For me being debt free is way better than having drinks out and going shopping, so I spend accordingly.

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  14. It’s like we all became lazy with digital wallets and online banking. I remember my mom’s huge ass transaction book for her checks and cash. And now, we are too lazy to just look at where our money goes on a regular basis? Thanks technology.

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  15. Great perspective! I completely agree. Once I really started tracking my spending it helped me understand my needs versus wants, and where exactly my hard earned money was going. Most people I work with don’t care where there money goes – $15 for lunch everyday, $5 coffee at Starbucks, new cars, new & bigger homes. Of course, some can easily afford it… but the others are just keeping up with everyone else.

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  16. Nathan

    Posts like this are why I continue to seek out your perspective each week. Thanks for sharing and helping me think different about my outlook on the choices I make with my money. Keep on keeping on,

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  17. J

    I found myself nodding my head the entire time while reading this. Tracking expenses is truly eye-opening. It is a tedious task but once you start seeing the positive impact on your finances, there is no turning back.

    Reply
    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      Amen! I used to hate it — you can even find old blog posts here where I go on and on whining about how much I hate it.

      … and now I can’t be without it. It’s been a game-changer.

      Reply
  18. I’ve never understood why so many people seem so uninterested in where their cash goes. You DO work way to hard not to care.

    I don’t track every expense, but do have all my bills and savings automated. Takes a bit of pressure off the budget side.

    Reply
  19. Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada

    I like this post. Very motivating. I also think that ignoring your finances has nothing to do with being busy…it is discipline. Once you get a handle on your budget, savings and investments, it is actually just fairly simple maintenance. And so rewarding!

    Reply
  20. AMEN! It boggles my mind when people I know just brush of money because it’s too confusing. It’s actually so simple!

    Reply
    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      It is! I think part of it might be that people also don’t want to know… it’s hard to learn how much money you’re wasting on stuff you don’t care about. Tracking it all means you have to honestly confront your spending.

      Reply
  21. Great post, Bridget. Too bad you’re preaching to the converted. Maybe if more people cared about their money, 50% wouldn’t be living paycheque to paycheque.

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  22. Great Read! Lots of truth in this post.

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  23. You nailed it, great article. It really doesn’t even take much time to have a general idea on where all of your finances are going. I know RBC tracks everything for you online. I would imagine most other major banks do as well, you just need to stick to credit cards or debit cards, leave the cash alone.

    Reply
    • Bridget Casey (Author)

      Thanks Stephen!

      I like using credit/debit for exactly that reason: everything is tracked. I definitely spend less cash just to avoid writing every purchase down.

      Reply
  24. “What is the real reason you’re not doing what you should be doing when it comes to your finances? Chances are the likely culprit is pure laziness.” I’ve actually talked to a few people about this and their answer wasn’t laziness but fear. They are afraid to know how bad the situation is or what they have been doing wrong.

    Reply
  25. You said this all perfectly. I have thought the exact same thing. It’s really not difficult to keep up to date with your finances and to invest it wisely, even if you are highly risk averse. There are ways to increase your money without losing it all.

    People just want to keep up with the Joneses. It’s really crazy. People would rather remain in ignorance and avoid their debts, or money issues and completely avoid them. By looking at it for exactly what it is, anyone would probably be amazed by what they could really do.

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  26. I wish I could get my husband to think like this! I like this quote: “he who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” Like you said, you work hard for your money, so why wouldn’t you spend a few hours per week managing it? I just don’t get it.

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