Getting tax help
Lighting 172 candles for Texas today

Baring your finances

The Washington Post has an interesting story on why people go online to share their poor money management skills.

Thanks to the many financial Internet sites and the penchant of users to share everything, says the article, money talk is no longer taboo -- at least not when you use an alternate online ID instead of your real name.

I, too, share some of my personal fiscal decisions and even mistakes. Remember my electronic tax paying problems or when I almost overpaid the electric company $6,900?

But mostly I believe that discretion is the better part of valor. Plus, I have the hubby to think about. It's his money, too -- some of it, anyway! -- so I want to respect his desire for privacy.

I can see, though, how sharing is cathartic and reassuring. Sometimes it's nice to know you're not the only financial dunce out there. The key, however, is knowing when enough is enough.

Confession_avatar_2I've been getting a taste of financial tell-alls via the Money Confessions on Twitter and in some cases, "too much information" immediately comes to mind. Or to borrow a phrase from my mother, sometimes you really shouldn't air your dirty laundry in public.

And in this day of con artists and ID thieves, I'm just a bit leery of putting everything out there on full display.

Debit vs. credit: One section in particular of the Washington Post story caught my eye:

Too many people in their 20s and 30s have become addicted to their debit and credit cards, no longer carrying cash in favor of the convenience of plastic, said Peter Glyman, who co-founded Geezeo about a year ago.

That has made them "detached from their finances," he said. "They're not balancing a checkbook, which in some ways forces people to look more closely at their finances. It creates a problem for the consumer in that they're becoming further removed, but it allowed products like ours to get them closer."

Hey, I'm a tiny bit beyond that demographic, but I also prefer my credit card. I use it for almost everything and pay it off in full each month to avoid interest charges.

But what got my attention here, and in many other stories previously, is the lumping of credit and debit cards as cash alternatives.

I can see not wanting to have a wad of bills in your purse or pocket, but debit cards are cash.

Unless something's changed since the last time I swiped my debit card, these transactions come right out of your bank account. So why in heaven's name aren't people balancing their checkbooks? Don't debit overdrafts carry the same high fees as bounced paper checks?

I know another online money management site, Mint (which I've blogged about here and here), even goes as far as to say that with its services, checkbook balancing is not really necessary.

Sorry, maybe I'm a geezing (as opposed to a Geezeo) money control freak, but I don't buy that approach. You can't save, or increase, your money until you know exactly how much, or little, you have.

Comments

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Mike

organising tax savings and paying taxes have become much important these days than earlier before. This is all due to the booming of economy and need for more money for the government.

Kristine

I don't understand how people can not balance their checkbook. How can you make any financial decisions when you don't know how much you have in your account? Maybe it's because I'm self employed, but I think it's vital to always know what you have so that you can make financial decisions, such as can I go to that conference next month? Can I buy the new laptop I want? Great post...-

Steve Austin

I think there are important distinctions between debit cards and cash. Technically, an overdraft feature on the linked account allows one to spend more than one has. Psychologically, there *is* a difference between a) debiting the balance in an account as seen on the receipt and b) forking over the cold hard green. I've been dubious about this, but once I tried using only cash in lieu of any cards (credit or debit), I found that the psychological cost of using cards outweighed any savings in time (convenience) or rebates.

Author Charles Long says it well: "you don't count plastic money in quite the same way as the real stuff. When you have to pull out the actual cash and count it into the seller's hand, there's a tug of pain at the parting. It matters that the same thing is on sale cheaper around the corner. It matters that you're having to give up something, something real, to buy this whatchamacallit. The plastic money isn't real. It doesn't seem to matter if the whatchamacallits are dearer here. The process is too painless. The casual ease of it puts us to sleep and makes us less discriminating, less careful consumers. The convenience is costly. Paying should be as inconvenient as possible."

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