May 29, 2008

Money (Or, Things I Don't Understand Part 3,396)

There's a long list of things in this world that make me feel as though I am not yet an adult. For instance:

  • I can't do long division to save my life;
  • I'm hopelessly addicted to old-school Hanna Barbara cartoons;
  • The smell of Play-Doh is pretty much the best smell ever;
  • Despite protests to the contrary, I love hair metal;
  • I want to be a rock star;
  • I haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up;
  • I laugh at even vaguely dirty jokes like a 12 year old; and
  • I think farts are funny.

And while these are all minor representations of my inner child being not so, well, inner, there's one more prominent issue I'm not proud of. I don't understand money.

My paystub
My paystub speaks a language I don't at all understand. Apparently FICA means Federal Insurance Contributions Act but it might as well mean Fucked In Countless Areas for all I know. Federal insurance? Why exactly am I contributing to that? And withholding is a concept that is completely foreign to me. I always thought when you withheld money from the government they busted your ass and called it tax evasion. Then of course there's imputed income and something called a GTL offset deduction. Is that what Greek sounds like? Order me some baklava while you're at it.

My house
I have perfected the art of the knowing nod. I employ it whenever we buy something big like a car or a house. Purchases like these invariably come with a list of indecipherable terminology. I understand down payments and even things important enough to have their very own acronyms like APRs. But start using words like equity or escrow and you'll see that knowing nod with absolutely no understanding behind it. Honestly, my job is to make money and sign pieces of paper. Thank god Beth understands this shit.

Wall Street
I understand two things about Wall Street. 1) Every Columbus Day there's a giant cultural festival-like thing, Wall Street itself is closed to traffic and you can get really good food. 2) The only think I know about Wall Street has nothing to do with what Wall Street actually does. Honestly the only bulls and bears I know anything about have more to do with Chicago than New York. In my world, a call option is when you actually have time to stop yourself from drunk dialing. A margin is something you write in. And a hedge fund is a cookie jar into which you drop spare change so one day you can get new bushes for your yard.

Am I alone? Am I the only one who is rendered helpless by the concepts that accompany money or monetary transactions? Please tell me I'm not. What's your kryptonite?

Posted by Chris at May 29, 2008 7:19 AM

You are not alone at all. the more I try to understand all this stuff the more confused I get. and boy does it make my family is an accountant...father plays the stock fell way far from the tree here

Posted by: becky at May 29, 2008 7:49 AM

Yeah, while I can *handle* my money fine - I don't have credit card debt, I don't mindlessly spend money, I save for the stuff you're supposed to - all that other stuff you mentioned? Oy. The advantage of being married to a CPA is that I don't entirely have to "get" it.

Posted by: sarah at May 29, 2008 7:52 AM

We are in the process of buying a house - and my boss - who is a single woman - keeps asking me about various forms. I have no idea what she is talking about. Finally, yesterday, I told her my role in all this is pretty much that of a 1950's housewife - I scoped out houses, gave my approval, and now I nod and smile as I sign forms. I said it was embarrasing - and a set-back for women. She just shrugged and said if she could get someone to handle stuff like that for her she totally would.

Posted by: Amy at May 29, 2008 8:15 AM

It's why I have Hubby, faithfully by my side to take care of all that sh*t!

Posted by: Maribeth at May 29, 2008 8:54 AM

I have disagree. The smell of crayons is the best smell ever.

I have a lot of the same issues about money. It gives me a headache.

You're fairly close about Columbus Day. Wall Street has been closed to traffic since before I started working here ten years ago. The Columbus Day festival is usually held on Broadway and closed to traffic. You can get the best bad-for-you food.

Posted by: Maria at May 29, 2008 8:55 AM

Totally with you. I've had a mortgage for some time now and have no clue about half that stuff. I can pay bills but heck if I know anything else.

Also, I love hair metal. And Play-doh. And my husband laughs at farts, mostly because he's the one producing them. Ugh.

Posted by: claire at May 29, 2008 8:56 AM

We have fart joke situations all the time (mostly that one person in the room poots and blames it on the dog or cat).
I don't get mortgage payments. I can't believe that out of my gargantuan mortgage (which means it is more than $350, the amount I paid to rent a room in college) only like $10 goes to the premium. And if I pay one extra payment a year, it drops the 30 year mortgage to like 27

Posted by: Arwen at May 29, 2008 9:09 AM

You are absolutely not alone! The harder I try to understand the nuiances of money the worse I do with it! You are lucky to have Beth understanding it...with me and my husband it is like the blind leading the blind!

Posted by: Michelle at May 29, 2008 9:18 AM

You are not alone! Jason runs a successful business, but as the finances go, well for all he knows I could be laundering money through the company and using it to run an underground midget porn ring.

My kryptonite is anything electronic. I know all of the need-to-know things for my job, but beyond that, I don't even have enough computer knowledge to impress an 86 year old woman. I am embarrased to say that, in 2008, I still use a yoga VHS b/c I know which 2 buttons I need to press in order to get my yoga on.

Posted by: Mymilabean at May 29, 2008 9:19 AM

I used to work in HR/Benefits so I understand your paystub.

And I THINK I understand the house stuff, but Wall Street and the stock exchange just baffle me. It closed at 14,000 WHAT exactly?? I don't get it.

Posted by: donna at May 29, 2008 9:40 AM

I think money is stupid and therefore understand nothing about it.

I have this basket full of money and get all excited when I have more money to add to the basket. What's that about anyway?

I sure hope my boyfriend understands money better than I do, or that he enjoys living in poverty for the rest of our lives.

Posted by: Poppy at May 29, 2008 9:47 AM

I get money. However I don't understand:

Quantum Physics
The Appeal of American Idol
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. I get lost EVERY time I go there.
Why "No Country for Old Men" is a great movie.

Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah at May 29, 2008 9:50 AM

Wow. There are a bunch of people out there who don't 'get' Wall Street.

Amen. Me either!

I 'get' the mortgage stuff, escrow and all that. However, I try not to think about it much. I also have big issue with how much money goes out the window every month for this place. We are 'house poor' and it sucks. We DID remodel the whole darned place though, so at least it is nice. LOL

And Sarah? I have lived here in Florida for almost 10 years, and I too still get lost every time I go to St. Pete. Same with Downtown Tampa. Every.Time. Ugh. Sad, really.

I also do NOT get fashion. AT ALL.

And I never, ever got Urkel. Why was he funny? I found the laugh and the snorting all very... meh.
Just didn't get it. Pee Wee Herman either.

I better stop, cause I could keep on going and going!

Posted by: jen at May 29, 2008 10:02 AM

My lord, you have described me to a TEE. If (God forbid) something were to happen to my husband, I would totally be one of those young widows all, "But HE always handled this sort of thing..."

Posted by: Fraulein N at May 29, 2008 10:48 AM

My understanding of payroll taxes goes only as far as "you don't get to keep all of what you make, but if you're self employed you get to keep even less of it."
I (mostly) get the mortgage thing, but only because I've been through it a few times and have an excellent mortgage broker to explain it to me.
Wall Street is like another planet to me. I don't even try.

Something else I absolutely cannot comprehend: how to fold a fitted sheet. I cannot do it to save my life.

Posted by: Amy at May 29, 2008 10:49 AM

I thank God every day that D is getting his MBA in finance. My 6 years of working in a bank taught me nothing. Before I got married the bank statement would balance my checkbook. But, I was never late with a payment, so at least I understood that.

There is so much I don't understand that the list would be too long to put in a comment...and I'm a 3rd year PhD. student. ;-)

Posted by: Krush at May 29, 2008 10:58 AM

Honestly, I don't get any of it. When I had my first "real world" job and the guy was there to talk to me about my 401k and what to do with my contribution, I didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and to this day I don't know what they're doing with my money!

Posted by: Stephanie at May 29, 2008 10:58 AM

Hoop caught me watching the Snorks last Saturday morning... I was lucky he woke up after Transformers ended.

Posted by: Tink at May 29, 2008 11:00 AM

I'm with you on the house and Wall Street. I am the CFO of my household, but when we get to buying a house and/or ready to invest, I'm going to need some help.

Posted by: oakley at May 29, 2008 11:04 AM

These are things I know, but it's all been through experience. I decided to start doing my taxes about 5 years ago and I feel much better because of that knowledge. You can learn a lot from a Dave Ramsey nightly Podcast download too. Simple speak, breadth of knowledge, repetition.

My kryptonite is appliances like air conditioners, furnaces, refrigerators, ovens, and even treadmills. There are things I don't want to be responsible for, and appliances are on that list.

Posted by: Brad at May 29, 2008 11:22 AM

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does the nod thing. I don't want to look stupid but ummm... yeah. Sadly, they could be adding a line on that mortgage that sends money directly to their kid's college fund and I'd never know it.

And farts are always funny. ALWAYS!

Posted by: SassyPants at May 29, 2008 11:23 AM

I just trust that my pay slip is correct, I pay out pension money because I think I should and don't want to start panicking about it in 20 years time. We don't own a house so I have yet to experience that wonder and my understanding of shares is extremely basic as in if you want 100 shares at 1p each it costs you a £1. If they increase in value you can sell them and get some money.

Posted by: Katherine at May 29, 2008 11:23 AM

You are most certainly not alone. Those things confuse me. My kryptonite is math. And I mean, any math beyond adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing basic numbers. I just read a math test to a 5th grader, and had *no idea* what half of the questions were asking.
This either means I'm a moron, or that they're teaching way harder math in 5th grade these days. I hope it's the latter.

Posted by: Kate at May 29, 2008 11:29 AM

We are addicted to old-school Hanna Barbara cartoons... in fact, I've requested that if the Shreksplorer ever dies - he's replaced with a Mystery Mobile like the one in the newer Scooby Doo movies (I really love the new Scooby Doo movies - we've been on a watching spree). As for farts, my daughter and I don't really agree on that one.. I prefer burping. Every burp is one less toot in the world.. you know?

You pretty much lost me with the rest of it - I just put it in and watch it get sucked right out. Get a good financial advisor. I dated someone that was a stock broker at Merril Lynch and saw the difference he made in the lives of the people he took care of - our days and nights were spent worrying about their money. It was insane.. but it did show me from an inside perspective that you get what you pay for when you get someone good.

What the hell am I doing over here rambling on a topic I know nothing about when I need to be packing??? What in the F??

Posted by: holli at May 29, 2008 11:30 AM

I know NOTHING about money. When people start talking about serious things like investing and 401(K)s and such, I tune out. It makes my brain hurt. I don't even look at my paystubs and I make my father do my taxes, even though I'm 30 and should totally do it myself. I have accepted that I'm a monetary dunderhead.

Posted by: GreenCanary at May 29, 2008 12:04 PM

my paystub could be written in yiddish for all i know...i literally just throw it into a pile with all my other stubs.

Posted by: ali at May 29, 2008 12:04 PM

World. History. I know nuthin'.

Posted by: Mr Lady at May 29, 2008 12:18 PM

With the exception of thinking farts are funny, we could be twins. Well, except for the penis/vagina thing too. But whatever. Fraternal, then.

Yeah, I don't understand any of that either. And until someone starts paying me a ridiculous amount of money to learn it, I think things are going to remain status quo.

Posted by: Candy at May 29, 2008 12:20 PM

I worried for quite some time that I don't understand any of that grown up stuff. I had hoped (seriously, I am not kidding) that I would find someone to fall in love with in college, get married, have babies and not need to work, thus - no need to know this kind of shit.

Things did not go as planned. So, I'm currently living in some gay guy's basement with my two cats, working on paying off credit card debt incurred while living with an active alcoholic in North Carolina three years ago.

I've got a master's degree and right now I seem to be perfectly happy answering phones for a surgeon and surfing the internet for 11 dollars an hour. Somehow, the financial stuff just goes right over my head and I get in worse trouble than ever. Is there a class on how to be an adult?

Posted by: k8 at May 29, 2008 12:22 PM

Wow, i thought I was the only one who was secretly (well, alright, maybe it's not actually a secret to anyone who knows me) not-a-grownup.

I still like to climb trees, even though I'm officially too old and creaky to be good at it.

Posted by: jess at May 29, 2008 12:47 PM

I actually understand most of that stuff from doing transactional, real estate, employment law and being an HR manager who handled payroll for awhile. But it took me a long time and alot of "I know I probably should know this, but . . ." I've found people are so happy to explain. I don't get Wall Street, the Dow, Nasdaq, etc.

Things I don't get.

How can our country be in a deficit and be out of money?
How can this be true if we are dropping a billion a day to fight this war?
How can my congressman afford to go to Iraq when my state is in a deficit and can't balance the budget? When I am in a deficit and can't balance the budget, I can't even go to McDonalds, let alone Iraq.
How are we giving all of this money in foreign aid when we are in a deficit?
How come we continue to loan money to countries that owe us money?
How come we spend millions of dollars in research a year but haven't cured anything since polio and we can figure out how to launch a satellite that will take pictures of Pluto but we can't figure out how to make an electrical car - or solar or wind powered cars?
How come Las Vegas isn't ENTIRELY powered up by solar and wind energy? The technology isn't NEW! Palm Springs ALMOST is.
How come 80% of Nevada is owned by the Federal Bureau of Land Management and we can't even use our own land?
Why are most "pro-life" people pro-death penalty and pro-war? Isn't that REALLY contradictory?

Dude. The list goes on and on.

Posted by: Mindy at May 29, 2008 2:15 PM

I can't work my bread machine. Or cook rice. And even though I worked in the "financial services" industry* for 6 years, my eyes still glaze over when my husband, who is actually GOOD at his "financial services" job, talks too much about it.

*That means bank. But you can't just say "bank." That'd be too easy.

Posted by: julie at May 29, 2008 2:47 PM

I get all the mortgage, finance and stock stuff. I'm in the biz. But I suck at handling my own money. It's like the mechanic who drives the hoopty that's falling apart.

What I don't get:

Computer Lingo - HTML, RSS all that crap. What??
Electronics for the most part - I just want to turn it on, have it do what it is supposed to do and go about my life. Not too much to ask, right?
Beyonce - Why is the world so fascinated with her? She's not that great of a singer and she CAN NOT act.
Dancing with the stars - Why?? Why Chris, why??

Posted by: April at May 29, 2008 2:51 PM

I think the reason why credit card companies, banks, and car dealerships make a lot of money is becuase there's a lot of people like me and you who don't know anything about APRs and other things.

Hanna Barbara cartoons are awesome!

Posted by: Chris at May 29, 2008 3:44 PM

I'll just say "me, too".

And I suck at long division, too...

Posted by: Alissa at May 29, 2008 3:51 PM

Oh, you by far are not alone. I am what some might refer to as a "retard" for my lack of understanding of those terms and concepts. It's a good thing my husband understands all of that -- it's so totally not my thing.

Posted by: ironic1 at May 29, 2008 5:20 PM

Personal property taxes. Loathe it in concept and excecution. Every year I am "supposed" to figure out how to assess now to pay next year and pay in October this year's taxes for tags that renew in June and oh crap next week is June and go to three different offices to accomplish all of these things in order to maintain the priveledge of driving a car that I must insure to the high heavens in case some day I lose my mind and hit an Aston Martin being driven by someone with a bad neck and do you have proof of that while you're at it OR go in the week the tags are due and let the government workers scurry around and stamp about eight different things on one piece of paper and pay a $30 late fee. I say screw it and let the red tape minions go to it and pay the late fee every damned year.

I also cannot work my cell phone's call waiting. !!!!!

Posted by: OS at May 29, 2008 5:42 PM

I have the Wall Street stuff covered. Web design? Freaking Greek with a little Arabic thrown in for good measure. I'll take reconciling a statement over coding a web page any day of the week.

Posted by: Jenn Benn at May 29, 2008 8:03 PM

Years ago I saw some movie where a teenager opens her first paycheck and says:

"Who is that FICA bitch and why is she taking all my money?!"

I still feel that way every two weeks.

Posted by: Lisa V at May 29, 2008 10:01 PM

Hubby = Accountant
Me = numbers?...huh? - variable? fixed...blah blah blah...I use my fingers to count still...really!

Playdoh TASTES even better than it smells =)

Posted by: Amber at May 29, 2008 10:02 PM

No, you are not. Money makes no sense to me. Which is why it is scary to realize I am in charge of it, in this house. However, that's really a case of 'the lesser of two evils."

Posted by: Jodi at May 29, 2008 10:31 PM

The smell of Play-Doh RULES! Maybe it's just me, but I can't smell the stuff without wanting to eat it. My SIL is the same way. We tried it a couple months ago. Doesn't taste horrible, but I wouldn't serve it at a dinner party. Maybe you could buy this

Posted by: js at May 30, 2008 8:12 AM

I hear ya. I'm NOT a numbers person. Though I've been forced to learn more than I want because my husband is a CPA and he prattles on so.

Posted by: the weirdgirl at May 30, 2008 11:55 AM

Money makes me anxious. Seriously! The whole banking thing practically gives me panic attacks, and I'm all too happy to allow Hubs to just handle it.

Plus the fact that I failed Algebra in grades 10 and 11, and so I'm really lame with the whole math thing. Which is really hilarious when at work they stick me in a Math 10 class and expect me to HELP kids.

Little do they know that when I do my taxes it involves a lot of swearing and a calculator being chucked across the room.

Posted by: Scatteredmom at May 31, 2008 12:25 PM

My eyes glaze over at the thought of all that stuff. I prefer to let Nick figure it out as he's the business guru of our relationship. After all, he DOES sport a t-shirt on occasion that says, "I've got mad spreadsheets, yo!"

He loves him some spreadsheets -- the more financially complicated, the better.

Posted by: angela at June 1, 2008 9:27 PM

I'm with you on almost all of the bullet points, but I think I do understand the money stuff.

WHY I spend what I do; I don't understand. But money itself and how it makes the world go round? sure, I got that.

Posted by: whall at June 2, 2008 12:30 AM

You and Declan would get along really well. See my post from today.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at June 3, 2008 5:36 PM

If you are willing to buy a house, you will have to get the business loans. Moreover, my mother usually utilizes a collateral loan, which supposes to be the most useful.

Posted by: Karin31Aguirre at June 16, 2011 7:06 PM