On Wednesday night, I started a course called "Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women" that is being offered by my county. For $20 (plus $5 extra to bring your significant other), you get five two-hour weekly sessions on all things finances taught by a financial counselor, as well as one session taught by a accountant/attorney. They even included handouts and the book in the cost of the course. The topics of the sessions will be: financial basics, investing basics, investing for retirement, insurance basics and planning for future life events. As a bonus, it's held at the local library, so I can check out a ton of books on the nights I am there and stop buying them!
Since Jesse and I are both at the beginning of our professional lives and just moved in together, I thought it would be a great idea for us to both attend. We can use it as a way to get ourselves financially together individually, but also set goals together and talk through money stuff. I've read a lot of books on finances, including several by Suze Orman, On My Own Two Feet and Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money With Your Honey by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, and a few others. However, the benefit of having a live teacher to ask questions, as well as a roomful of people interacting and telling anecdotes, is above and beyond anything I have gotten out of those books.
In the first class we started with looking at how we view money at the moment. She had us fill out a "Money Coat of Arms" with four sections plus a middle section for a money motto. It was admittedly a little cheesy but the content got me thinking a lot:
One thing I do well with money: Pay bills on time and always more than the minimum
One thing I don't do well with money: Budget! Save! (Okay, that's two.)
One way that I enjoy spending money: On hobbies, like yoga, reading, crochet and cooking
One way that I have a hard time spending money: On responsible adult items I hate to have to fork out cash for because it makes me resentful, like dental procedures and eye glasses.
My money motto: I had a hard time with this one. Currently, or at least the last few years, it seems like it was "Spend like you're dying". Now it's more like "Be responsible and cautious but don't forget to live."
Some members of the class shared their responses. I was surprised to hear so many women say that they have a hard time spending money on themselves. That is SO NOT my problem! We also talked about creating a budget (she calls it a "spending plan" since the b-word turns so many people off!), setting SMART short-term (1-3 years), intermediate term (3-10 years) and long-term (10+ years) financial goals, credit card basics, ways to increase your cash flow and decrease expenses, organizing your financial paperwork and more.
This course fits in nicely with my long-lost but about to be revived "Sweat and Save" plan. The only thing I did for that in 2010 on the save part was to pay off my credit cards (they have since seen a little damage but nothing that can't be paid off again quickly). Hopefully this interests at least a few of you. I plan to blog about the remaining four sessions as well. If you live in the Arlington, VA area, I highly recommend you check this course out! Contact me for more information.