25 Signs That Show You Know How to Handle Money

By Al Jacobs

The ability to master your money is not something that just happens. It takes time, training, and temperament. Whatever praise or criticism you may direct at the American public school system, one thing must be acknowledged: The handling of personal financial affairs is not a subject to which much attention is devoted. Whatever the average citizen knows about saving and investing did not come from the classroom. This is understandable, of course, if only because the typical classroom teacher is equally mystified by the world of money. Nonetheless, there are those among us who have figured out how it all works, and what it takes to prosper.

Are you one of those persons that has managed somehow to get the hang of it? If you recognize yourself in most of the twenty-five following scenarios, then you can confidently answer “yes” to that question.

1. Your credit card bill is paid in full each month with never a penny in interest incurred.

2. You understand that the variable annuity in which your neighbor just invested will prove to be a sad mistake.

3. Despite orchestrated furor by the media, you recognize that the $30 it costs to fill your vehicle’s gas tank is cheaper in today’s dollar that the $15 it cost 20 years ago.

4. You enjoy financial talk shows for their entertainment value while knowing that 95% of what’s said is nonsense.

5. The only type of life insurance that you’d ever consider purchasing is a term policy.

6. You’re not tempted to invest in something because of a hot tip you get from a friend or relative.

7. You have serious doubts that the 3-unit course in basic English composition offered at Eleganté University for $900 is any better than a similar course conducted at Midtown Community College for $60.

8. You are sufficiently sophisticated in real estate to know that the worst house in the best neighborhood beats the best house in the worst neighborhood.

9. You owe nothing on the vehicle you drive.

10. You have a pretty good idea by mid-November how much your income tax obligation for the current year will be.

11. When hearing that the S&P 500 Index just hit an all-time high, you are not inclined to call your broker with a buy order.

12. It’s beyond your comprehension why anyone not certifiably insane would purchase a timeshare property.

13. Your checking account balance never drops below the minimum limit that triggers a monthly service charge.

14. You’re aware that an option to pay your auto insurance premium in two installments, with a “modest convenience fee” instead of a single payment, probably works out as a loan at about a 25% interest rate.

15. Although you thoroughly enjoy the home in which you live, it’s considerably less expensive than you can afford.

16. You know practically nothing about the option market—and intend to keep it that way.

17. You feel instinctively that every dollar you contribute in FICA taxes to the Social Security system is a dollar lost to you forever.

18. Whenever you’re negotiating a purchase and qualify to receive a discount, you do not hesitate to ask for it.

19. You entertain no illusions that a financial advisor will provide sound counsel merely because of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation held.

20. You make the maximum possible contribution to your retirement funds.

21. Whether your choice of wristwatch is a top-of-the-line Rolex, a fashionable Cartier, a respectable Bulova, or an economy Timex, you recognize that all are battery-operated, with a similar quartz movement, and none fail to keep excellent time.

22. You find it baffling why anyone would buy a lottery ticket.

23. You cannot remember when you last borrowed money for an unexpected emergency.

24. The newspaper advertisement offering a half-pound silver commemorative medallion from The Perfidious Mint, at the “special advance price of only 139 dollars,” forces you to suppress a laugh.

25. You have no confidence in the concept of “Investor Confidence.”

If the sentiments expressed in most of those situations do not reflect your thinking, you’re not in control of your financial destiny. In that case, you can use a little guidance. A visit to the Newsletter Archives on my website at www.onthemoneytrail.com might be a good place to start.

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