Things every young person needs to know about money - Chapter 3 – Watch your money closely
“Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it.” Rebecca Johnson
“The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money.” IRS auditor
Several weeks ago, I walked into the living room and my wife was watching one of the “Real Housewives” shows. If you haven’t seen one of the shows in this franchise, it focuses on the day-to-day problems of fabulously rich people in a variety of different cities. My wife asked me to watch it with her, so I did.
In this episode, one of the main characters had just discovered that her husband was facing significant legal and financial problems. Literally millions of dollars were missing, and both were facing potential legal action. To make things even worse, her business was at risk (she is also a successful entrepreneur and star in her own right) because of the bad financial decisions her husband had made.
When she was asked “How could you not know about this?”, she said “He handled the finances!”.
I believe her.
I have seen this mistake repeated by both public and private figures. You must watch your money! Every day! It doesn’t matter if you are in business with someone or are married to someone! This isn’t about love or trust. This is about being responsible and holding everyone accountable.
Every morning I get up early and log into my laptop. I then check every account to ensure that the balances are what I expect, and if they aren’t I investigate until I determine the root cause. My charge cards are organized around different types of spending, and all of them have automated alerts to notify me if I need to conduct root cause analysis around unusual activity. Each statement is carefully reviewed every month.
Do I find things every day? Nope. Have I found things in the past? Absolutely! I once noticed that someone was “testing” my debit card by making a series of small charges. By checking my account every day, I discovered it in less than 12 hours and stopped a very large purchase. On another occasion I had “remote deposited” a check, and after 24 hours it never showed up in my account. After I contacted the bank, they noticed that it had been accidently credited to the wrong account.
Before I became vigilant, someone that I trusted and knew well extracted a significant amount of money from me. I didn’t know about it until it was too late to do anything. I was shocked that they would do it, but they did. It took me years to recover.
Just the other day one of my daughters told me that there were “weird” things going on in her account, and we walked through how to work with the bank to resolve the issue. I asked her how she found it, and she said, “I check my account every day, just like you taught me!”
What a proud moment as a parent!
If you aren’t checking your money every day, you need to start. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
Have you ever wondered how people pick talent? I am aware of an organization that recently installed someone in a high-level position although they are unimpressive and not particularly well liked. And yet there they sit. Politicians are demonstrably wrong time and time again, and yet there they sit. Reporters are trusted advisors are consistently wrong, and yet there they sit. I must be missing something. If you know what it is, let me know.