Financial Things I Don't Do

One understated perk of being a financial planner is that you get to hear a lot of good stories.

Sometimes when I let people know what I do for a living, they’ll share a little story about something they experienced recently in the financial world. Often, I hear people dealing with things in ways that are alien to me — why would you do it that way?

I decided to take a recent example and turn it into a short list of Financial Things I Don’t Do.

(This list applies to myself as a consumer, not as an advisor or planner.)

  • Read credit card statements

I don’t mean to insinuate that no one ought to read their credit card statements, but I personally don’t. I import credit card transaction histories into a dashboard (tons of options available but I use Tiller) to keep track of spending.

I do categorize every single transaction, so I know what’s going on, but I don’t use my statements nor the notifications from my credit card companies to do so.

  • “Pay bills”

Perhaps controversial, I hope you know what I mean — I don’t, generally, manually press “Pay” on most of my bills. Which is to say, I utilize autopay everywhere possible. I recognize that this is a risk, both in terms of “autopay creep” in which I end up auto-spending more than I ought to, and for my vendors to make errors. I won’t pretend that has not happened, but you just have so much protection with credit cards these days that it’s not enough risk to turn me off of auto-pay for most things.

My suggestion for someone who thinks that this can’t work is to keep more cash in checking than you otherwise think you ought to.

  • Balance my checkbook

OK fine, no one is doing this anymore, but that includes me.

  • Follow individual stock prices

This can be awkward when people hear what I do and want to talk about their big winners. Sorry buddy. Not only do I not care about yours in particular, I don’t care about anyone’s. I follow flows, factors, indices, and the writings of investors I respect. Not the charts of individual equities, because I lack both the time & interest. It’s a waste of focus.

  • Go to the bank

Partially a lie. You have to show up for a few things (like opening a new business bank account), and I recently learned that you can get free Notary services at Wells Fargo, so I’ve been in a bank branch probably 3-4 times this year. But I generally don’t need them.

Not so bad, eh? If I wrote the opposite, “Financial Things I Do Do”, this would be extremely long, and probably a snooze. Stay tuned for that one.

Robinson Crawford