How I Woke Up From My Money Coma

January 21 [Mon], 2013, 10:50
One afternoon two years ago, three big bills hit my mailboxa grand total of $11,000 in unexpected expenses. As the founder and CEO of , I knew I should have sat down addressed the situation right away.

Instead, I fell into afor two weeks, ignoring the bills and pretending everything was just fineuntil I woke up one day to an empty checking account.

Talk about a wake-up call.

I emerged from my money coma, paid the bills, reexamined my budget,to cover out-of-the-blue expensesall the things a good Chief Household Officer doesand assumed I had made a full recovery.

Until recently, when my family and I movedand I managed to blow a $2,000 hole in my budget--$2,077 to be exact. Id love to tell you how I did it, but thats the point. Money Coma No. 2.

Thats when I realized that, despite my curveball account and trusty Excel spreadsheets and budgeting charts, that its not the financial events themselves that trigger a money coma, but something within me.

Obviously, its not that I cant do math or handle complex accounting. Ive been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, and Im accustomed to managing deals .

So how does a busy executive cure a mysterious tendency to fall into patches of financial oblivion? I consulted with and not just because she is the DailyWorth editor-in-chief. MP is a long-time personal finance columnist, and shes dealt withof her own.

First, MP pointed out that being a successful, confident, savvy career woman can (weirdly) be an obstacle when it comes to handling your own personal accounts.

Its hard to admit to yourself that the know-how you bring to your work doesnt automatically carry over to your wallet or your 401k.

So yes, I can bat around terms like EBIDTA and CPMs in any board meeting. But that doesnt necessarily help me at the grocery store, Target (my personal downfall), or when I open my IRA statements.

So you have to come to terms with the need to build whatever is missing in your financial skill set.

Next, to banish the money fog, MP recommended just looking at the numbers, the real numbers. Theres nothing like viewing your actual transaction history to see where your cashflow is breaking down. The photo above is me, pulling up my checking account statement. Really.

Im not sure why its hard to look at raw numbers. I suppose it reveals my weakspots, or where I wasnt planning as well as I should have (an exec moms least favorite feeling). But in this case, it was helpful to simply see that between a slew of unforeseen moving/new-household costs, plus the need for extra child careits not surprising that my budget collapsed.

But there was good news in the numbers, too. MP was impressed that despite the shortfall, I still kept contributing to my retirement fundbecause I was smart enough to put that on automatic pilot a few years ago (and I never mess with it).

The bottom line for me is realizing that my personal finances require the same oversight and scrutiny and regular adjustments for reality that my companys finances do. Im not sure if that means Ive found a permanent cure for my money comas, but Ill keep you posted.

Amanda Steinberg is the founder of , a community of women who talk money. .
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