We get busy. Busy with community events. Busy with kids. Busy with work. Busy with church. In the spare moments afforded to us we just want to sit down for a moment of peace and quiet. The unfortunate result of all our business is that often our knowledge of our own personal financial condition is limited at best.
I completely agree with Monty McKinnon’s statement in the book Money Management for Busy People. He writes, “Financial fitness requires effort on our part. It requires planning, reviewing your plans, making changes when necessary and following through on commitments”.
In a recent Globe and Mail newspaper column entitled “Portfolio security: Asking simple questions is the first step,” Tom Bradely wrote:
I am generalizing when I say that we have met too many clients that don’t know what they own, how much they’re paying and most importantly, how they’re doing.
Are you one of those people who doesn’t know about their personal financial situation. Take the following test to see how you score. Select the answer that best describes you. If you answer number 1, give yourself one point. If you answer 2, give yourself two points (I think you get the picture).:
- What is your current net worth?
- You don’t even know if it is positive or negative
- If you had an hour you could get the paperwork together and figure it out
- You can get within $3,000 without looking at any paperwork
- Do you know where your money is invested? What kind of investments do you own(mutual funds, stocks)? What is your current asset allocation (% of bonds and stocks)?
- You only know the name of the broker/agency that handles your investments
- You know what you are invested as far as mutual funds and bonds, but don’t know what categories of funds you own.
- You know the asset allocation and the specific investment categories.
- Do you have house, life, health, disability insurance?
- No –
- Yes, but I’m not sure who it is with
- Yes and I know who we are insured with and the approximate annual premiums
- Can you name the credit cards you have? What is the outstanding balance of your credit cards?
- Nope, don’t know.
- I can tell you how many I have, just not the balances.
- I know the card companies and the balances.
- Do you have any outstanding debts? Who do you owe the money to? How much do you owe?
- All I know is it is a lot of money, but I couldn’t tell you who and how much.
- Yes, I know who I owe and how much I owe.
- Don’t have any debts.
- What is the balance of your bank accounts? Do you know where you bank?
- Know the name ofthe bank.
- Could get the balance if you gave me 15 minutes.
- I know the banks and approximately how much is in each.
- Do you have a will? Do you know where it is? Have you done any estate planning?
- No will.
- I think I have one. I did one, hmmm, how many years ago?
- How much do you earn? How much is withheld from your paycheck? For what purposes?
- No idea.
- I think I could tell you how much our household income is, but don’t know what is withheld.
- I could tell you our household income and I know what is being withheld.
- Where do you give? When do you give? How much do you give?
- I don’t know.
- I know a few of the places.
- I know where we give and how much we give.
- How much do you spend each month on major categories like: groceries, auto, household, debt reduction, and retirement.
- No idea.
- I could tell you approximate amounts, but I would need to verify it first.
- I know the approximate totals.
- How familiar are you with the words and phrases used in this post?
- I’ve been wondering if this test was in English.
- Had to check out Wikipedia for a few definitions.
- Bring it on. I know the lingo.
Now total up the points.
- If you scored 15 or lower – Get online. Read a book. A little financial education could save you $1,000s annually.
- If you scored between 15 – 23 – You have an idea about what is going on. It could be improved, but you’re heading in the right direction.
- If you scored 23 – 30 – Congratulations. You are are playing a positive role in establishing a healthy financial life. Your knowledge and attention has or will pay its dividends.
- If you scored 30 or more – get away from the computer. Go out and play. You know way too much about this stuff!
Now if you are married I have one more step for you – see how many of these questions your spouse can answer. Chances are you are a financial geek. You are reading a blog on Christian finances! Your spouse, however, might not care about all this ‘financial stuff’. If you cannot get your spouse to the computer you can print up a Word copy of the test here.
It is essential for a healthy relationship for a husband and wife to be on the same page financially. If bo spouses know their financial status they are much more likely to work together to achieve their financial goals. If one spouse struggles to answer the questions then:
- At the very least, make the information easily accessible in the case of an unforeseen circumstance. Put it in the file cabinet or file it on your computer.
- Agree to buy a book on finances and read through the book together.
- Talk to a church leader.
- Set aside 15 minutes one evening a week for open communication regarding your finances.