Book Bites

Personal Finance Scared Me

Chapter 2: Why Can't Money Grow On Trees?

Red was scared, for herself, and for her family. Having to deal with personal finances for the first time is scary. Especially if you believe you need a finance degree to figure it out. Yes, it's human nature to have a fear of the unknown, but feeling you have to face it alone makes it even worse. Red knew that her sister, Black, was there for her, but it wasn't in the "warm and fuzzy" and sympathetic way that Red wanted.

P.S. – If you were expecting banter between Red and Black, then this Book Bite might surprise you.

We thought it important to acknowledge that although when facing a challenge – financial or otherwise – Black's extremely pragmatic and likes to address it head-on, Red learned that recognizing how you feel about something can be as important as the specifics of the situation.

I knew Black was right – I wasn't going to win the lottery. There was no book that would instantly solve my financial problems. And as Black bluntly told me, sympathy wasn't going to help either. She also made it painfully clear that although I wanted to keep my head in the sand, I needed to face reality. That left me with no choice, but to get on with it. And so I decided I had to do it Black's way. She was doing her best to help me clear my head of the emotional aspects of the situation, trying instead to make me look coldly and honestly at the critical issues we were facing.

I knew we were in a huge financial mess, not because of the specific details of our situation, but because neither Nick nor I really knew where we stood. And as uncomfortable as it was, I decided to offer to help Nick with our financial matters. This "transfer of responsibility" was tricky because I didn't have any financial experience. Although I had worked for a number of years before I got married, I never had to spend my money on necessities because I lived with my parents until the day I married Nick. For the next 15 years nothing much changed except Nick paid the bills instead of my Mom and Dad. Then suddenly, I'm being forced to deal with the financial well-being of my family.

Chapter 18: Whine Or Lemonade? Your Choice

This year, when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, Red has decided to make a conscious effort to do something she’s talked about for years. Something she knows can lead to happiness or, at least, feelings of contentment and satisfaction.

Three months into her "crisis" (Red's word, not Black's), Red looks back and begins to realize the impact of the lessons she was forced to learn were truly invaluable. And that as much as she initially fought having to face reality and actually make changes, vs. just hoping she could "wish" everything to be better, that would've fixed nothing. In fact, it would've only made things worse. Of course, she'll always question how Black could have been so optimistic, going so far as to say Red's crisis was going to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

P.S. – Red still questions Black's optimism, but that's because she's come to realize her natural tendency is to initially focus on the negative. She claims it's because she's "wired" that way, but that's ok because she has learned that just means she has to work harder to overcome the negative and focus on the positive. And challenging times are the perfect time to remind herself that although this mindset and approach may seem hard to do, the results can be so much better than initially hoped for.

Red's HeadRed

I'm surprised to find you online again.

Black's HeadBlack

Why? Typical Saturday night. Done with dinner and no one to talk to once I get home. Only tonight home is a hotel and there is no one snoring on the couch.

Red's HeadRed


Black's HeadBlack

No reason to be. Everything will work out. One way or another.

Red's HeadRed

That's what you told me when Nick was fired. In fact, you went so far as to say you thought it was the best thing that ever happened to us. Did you really mean that, or were you trying to make me feel better?
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Chapter 10: So You Think Staying At Home Isn’t A Full-Time Job?

Being a mom, although wonderful, can be challenging … and Red has found that’s especially true during the “dog days” of summer (and is why she created this list of summer ideas), but she’s still amused by Black’s perspective on the “job” of being a mom …

Even before Red’s husband was fired, she had a lot on her plate. But, in reality, probably no more than any other mom, daughter, and wife, who are often (or should that be “usually”) at the center of everything, with their lives being a combination of chauffeur, referee, nurse, cook, friend, and an assortment of other “hats”. And while it can be very rewarding and gratifying knowing that so many people count on you, it can also be overwhelming, not to mention just plain stressful.

P.S. – Even today, Black’s perspective on being a full-time mom (as a stepmom, she considered herself a part-time mom, although she knew that was an important role) still makes Red smile. And while years ago she might have wished she was just a little less needed, now that her girls are older, it makes her a little sad and very nostalgic.

Black's HeadBlack

Another early morning?

red headred head

Yes! Now that I did the Sunday night review, I can see how you wake up on Monday mornings ready to tackle the week. Except today is Presidents’ Day and so Natasha’s home from school.

Black's HeadBlack

Anything special planned?

red headred head

Why do I have to have something special planned? In fact, why do I have to be the one who does all the planning?


Sorry I asked …
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Chapter 9: I’m Too Busy To Make A List Of All The Things On My “To Do” List

Whether it’s because it’s the end of the school year, the beginning of the lazy days of summer, or you’re just determined to finally tackle those boxes full of memories, now is the perfect time to start. But first, you might want to read this “secret” to success – whether scrapbooking or any major project …

Red has always had a tendency (Black would say it’s her default setting) of becoming overwhelmed quickly, especially when presented with a project that she isn’t able to do in “one sitting”. And this was even before her crisis, when she had more time. Before she had to juggle being a mom to two young girls along with handling many new responsibilities, when something as simple as scrapbooking became a major task. And although scrapbooking’s as “warm and fuzzy” as it gets, Black gave her some pragmatic advice that not only calmed her down by making the project manageable, but included the girls.

P.S. – Red knows scrapbooking’s never done, but now, years later, the boxes of “new” items to be included are in the attic, and she’s not sure if working on them will give her a feeling of accomplishment or be bittersweet as her “little girls” have now grown into young women. Regardless, Red decided that when she has some pockets of time (whether over holidays or weekends or maybe whenever she needs a “break”), she’ll continue to eat that elephant that Black had given her the “recipe” to many years prior.

red headred head

OK. One of the things that has been on my list forever is working on the girls’ scrapbooks.

Black's HeadBlack

Scrapbooking? It is a big business and nothing to laugh at. But since I am not a scrapbooker (not sure that is even a real word), could you give me a little more detail?
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