When it comes to my family, I'm an open book. We've gotten to the point now where we've stopped judging each other's lifestyles ... well, for the most part. By now we've all done some pretty wild stuff, and nothing surprises my mother anymore. When it comes to money and budgeting, though, forget it. I'm not spilling anything. But why? What is it about money that feels so private to me?
Okay, I'm willing to tell my family how much my home is worth. The number is so crazy out of proportion to the actual size of my apartment, they'd never believe me anyway. (Life in NYC ...) I'll tell them how much cash I usually carry around with me -- loose change. But the rest? Here's what I'm not sharing.
1. How much I earn. I'll never tell. I mean, my family knows I'm not a millionaire. I write for a living, for crying out loud, and I'm not exactly E. L. James. But I kind of feel like it could go either way -- learning the exact amount I make could prompt either pity (ugh) or loan requests (no!). So I'd rather not spill. Your income is wrapped up with all sorts of uncomfortable questions about your self worth, your potential, your power, or lack thereof. I'd rather keep money out of those conversations because really, ultimately it should be irrelevant.
2. How much I spend on groceries. I just don't feel like anyone would understand. Food means a lot to me. It's not so much about the quantity -- I have a small appetite. It's the quality. I spend what's probably a ridiculous amount of money feeding just myself and my 9-year-old son, who eats like a bird, by the way. I do shop at a food coop, the farmers' market, and sometimes direct from a farm. But I never use coupons.
3. How much I spend on school. My son is in private school. NOT because I'm fancy and have so much money I don't know what to do with it all -- but for some other very important reasons. I do get a financial break. But still, all of us went to public school. Actually paying for school before college is kind of a new idea for us. I don't want to get into the dollars and sense of it all.
4. How much I spend on clothes and grooming. I think my sister would understand. Everyone else? Maybe not so much. Not that I'm a crazy spendthrift -- anything but. It's just that once again, the scale here in the city is different. And I believe in paying more to get EXACTLY what you want and having a few investment pieces rather than grabbing whatever you can get off the clearance racks.
Image via Tax Credits/Flickr