The Rewards of Fatherhood, Fitness and Frugality
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Looking For Some Penny Wisdom

The other day while trying to catch up on the scores at that weekend’s regional events of the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, I noticed one of my favorite CrossFitter/blogger’s tweets, which read:

I have to say, while his post I’m sure was meant to make a statement about the potential response of the T-Mobile customer service team, that’s not what stood out to me about his tweet. My thought was, “Wow, this dude knows to the dollar, and probably the penny, what he spent on this T-Mobile bill over a five year period!” And while I was duly impressed, I was also somewhat ashamed that I do not know the exact to the penny amount I’ve spent on my own phone bill over the last half decade. Shouldn’t I?

Yes, I should. Especially if I’m going to be speaking to others about knowing what they are spending their money on to get a better handle on their savings and finances. Although I’m not excusing myself, it’s not that I don’t know to some useful degree, where my money goes. I have over the years taken the tact it is better not to be penny wise and pound foolish. Thus in most of my personal financial management I have concentrated my efforts on managing my investments and earning income.

But something about Web’s post still made me feel like I was failing in some way. “I should know my number,” I thought. I often tell (and sometimes chastise) my daughters for not appreciating how hard it is to earn and work for money, when at dinner time they scrape the last bit of veggies in the garbage. My head immediately starts to think, that’s a waste of money. But I’m doing the same thing to myself. How much money do I scrape into the garbage? Whether it’s a few pennies or a few thousand dollars, it all spends. And what Web reminded me was that those little expenses add up over time.

I am not sure if Benjamin Franklin was the first to say this but one of his great axioms was,

From little strokes fell great oaks.

Years ago, when I was trying my best to take care of the little things, I knew where every penny went. It wasn’t even that hard to track. I simply used a nice personal finance software package, spent a few minutes a week with it, and voila. But over time, as life gets more complex and incredibly busy, we forget the little things matter. And those little things have a compounding effect over time. I had forgotten that. No more. While it is likely more important to be pound wise and penny foolish, why be foolish at all? I think it’s so much better to be wise in both. So that’s my plan from now on. Now to get the receipts out.

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