People act differently when they think other people are watching. It’s only natural to not want people to think we are weird, outcasts, gross, broke, etc. And it’s even more natural to finish projects, clean in the hard-to-reach places, fix a few things, and overall put our best foot forward when we know company is coming over. The truth is, if you were to show up at my home on a Friday when I am given the run of my home to write, do laundry, and otherwise do as I please, you will most likely find me in my pajamas until about 2:00 p.m. (not asleep until 2:00; I typically wake up at around 7:00 a.m. on the weekends. But that doesn’t mean I have to get dressed!). But if I knew you were coming over, then I’m sure I’d find the time to get dressed and straighten up a bit.
Some people may find the process of “freshening up” before company comes over cumbersome, unnecessary, or stressful. I actually love it. We have been blessed with lots of out-of-town family and friends visiting us over the last year. And each time I have taken the opportunity to create a bit of urgency on a project that’s been sitting too long, tackle something that was important to me but not enough to have completed yet, and given the house a deep cleaning. Not only do we get to enjoy the company of friends and family, but we also get to enjoy our home after they leave! When my mother, grandmother, and stepfather came to visit last fall we took the opportunity re-mulch the backyard gardens and wash the backdoor window, (admittedly had not been washed since purchasing our home). For our Christmas party, Paul and his brother finished the trim in our DIY bathroom renovations. My Aunt Anita’s visit had us repairing the cracks in our living room from some minor foundation shifts during the drought last year. And for Uncle Andy and Aunt Nancy, I finally got around to sanding the top part of the guest room closet door which always catches.
I wonder how we would all change our financial ways if we knew others could see what we are doing. This happens for some during tax season, when they grumble about getting all of their documents in order for their accountant. What if they had to report to an accountant more often? Would they maintain better organization of their financial files? I’ll bet most would. How about if someone was tracking your savings account?
I think we can all take the opportunity to look over our finances and figure out what we would be embarrassed to tell others about. Is it that we don’t know how to use a financial account of ours? We are paying debt back with an exorbitant interest rate? We are overspending? Our credit score is low, or we don’t know what our credit score is? Thinking about our finances in this way could shed some light and give a bit of urgency to educating ourselves, completing something we’ve been meaning to do, or make the changes necessary so that we may enjoy our financial lives more fully moving forward (with or without anyone peeking in).
I’ll start us all off with something I am a bit embarrassed about: as a frugal person who writes about finances, I have allowed us to get charged way too many fees for a dormant 401(K). When Paul’s company was bought out over a year ago by another company, they no longer offered the 401(K) as an option. So, we have an account with several thousand dollars in it that we can no longer contribute to, and that has a healthy dose of fees to maintain. So while I get excited about shaving an extra five bucks off of a grocery bill, I’ve allowed these savings and more to be wiped out by letting this account sit. I need to take this opportunity (before someone peeks in—whoops!) and tidy up by rolling this account over to Paul’s Roth IRA.
What would you do differently if you knew someone was peeking into your finances? If you don’t wish to comment for many to see, I understand.