I know money. I know how to save it, I definitely know how to spend it, but I also know lots about credit and investments and interest rates and all of that. I worked at a bank for 4 1/2 years in yet another past life, where it was primarily my job to process applications for loans and mortgages and credit cards. You know, the stuff that you can only get if you can prove that you don't need it, but if you didn't need it you wouldn't be applying for it. Right? I am also pretty well educated about credit worthiness and the ins and outs of a credit score. I've always been proud of my excellent credit rating, especially after seeing so many terrible, and I mean really rotten, credit situations out there. Back when I had a regular income I felt safe in the knowledge that if I needed to apply for credit to take care of the unexpected, I would be able to get what I needed.
Things took a little turn for the not-so-credit-worthy about 3 years ago. I left my job, Jeff left his cushy paid grad student gig, and we left the country. Oh, and before we left we borrowed as much money as we could get our hands on to pay his medical school fees, our moving costs, as well as living expenses for the next 4 years when he would be a student and I would be only sporadically employed. Well, guess what happens when you're in a new country with no credit rating, almost no income and a mountain of outstanding (albeit in good standing) debt? Have you heard the phrase "Mo' money, mo' problems?" I don't buy it for a second.
So I took what I consider to be the obvious course of action. I've taken my financial prowess and tucked it far away into a deep, dark corner of my brain that I only go to a couple of times a year when I get bored. I don't want to know. Unfortunately, I have a very good mind for figures, so most of the key information is still floating around pretty close to the surface and continues to cause me fairly continuous, low-level amounts of stress. But the big picture, like what my credit score looks like now, the sum total of all of our outstanding debt, any sense of our debt ratio and how much we should be spending compared to what is coming in, all of that is in the deep, dark corner. I feel that it's better that way for my mental health.
But maybe I'm wrong. I'm not entirely convinced, but I'm willing to give this financial responsibility thing a shot again, as ugly as it may be. I'm already giggling, after Ms. Berry's recommendation that my fixed expenses should be no more than 65% of my income. Giggling, and feeling a little nauseous.
I've been at it for a few days now. I've managed to compile a pretty comprehensive list of all of my income sources and expenses, and I've separated the expenses into Fixed, Variable and Controllable. Now it's time to figure out exactly how much I have to work with in my Controllable category and divvy it up. I've been avoiding this part a bit...is there an easy way to divvy up negative numbers?
Okay, enough stalling. I just thought I'd share my struggle with you in case there is anyone else out there who feels that hiding from the problem might just solve it. I know better, and thanks again to this book and this challenge I'm going to get in that ring and face the beast. It may just be without that extra cappuccino from the Fall Café this week...