Why Personal Finance Is Interesting

I want to interest people in the world around them.

Working in finance is incidental to my career. It just so happens I speak three languages: English, Spanish, and money. I get excited when I tell stories in these vernaculars. I use them to interest people in the things they otherwise wouldn’t see. I bring meaning out of numbers.

Take the following transactions:

12/31/2017                 Central Tower Bar RST 445768           $45.10

01/01/2018                 Uber Technologies xxxxxx4469          $6.65

01/01/2018                 Walgreens 0ll Asprin 0ll                      $9.33

Tells a story doesn’t it? It sets the scene: a bar on new years eve. It’s late and they’ve had too many drinks. They don’t live far – the ride is cheap. They wake with a headache, but they frequently neglect their medicine cabinet.

Reading a client’s transaction history is like reading their narrative. When coaching, I almost never look at the dollar signs. I always read the purchases, the dates, the decisions. Patterns emerge, and I point them out. It interests them. They want to know more about their own behavior.

There’s another way to excite curiosity using finance: find the gray zone where intuition meets practical tools – where emotions meet checking accounts.

Sometimes we want something so bad it hurts. We yearn for it, but the transaction frighten us. Credit cards threaten to spiral out of our control. Our arms cross and we frown to one side. The drive is there – it burns – but our literacy skills betray us. We don’t know enough.

I met a wonderful client who hadn’t seen her extended family in years. She couldn’t amass the savings. The love of relatives flowed through her, but dammed at the concrete pillars of a bank. Savings accounts were waterfalls of fine print that fell from the copier. She didn’t know how.

It wasn’t until we spent time in the gray zone – her and I – that we broke the barrier.

We found a Vacation Savings account at a credit union. When she brought me the brochure, covered in fine print, I read what I needed and put it aside. I took out a blank piece of paper and we covered it in our own print. Shapes, circles, dotted lines, and dates. Suddenly, she was an artist.

Inspired by the her family, she channeled that drive into her tools. Her club account became her brush, her pay stub, paint. We automated her savings. We practiced. Her account grew into a landscape of possibilities. It became art. And five months later, she returned from Georgia, a big smile on her face. She had visited her family.

When we’re interested, our humanity blossoms. I want to tell these stories to interest you, the reader. I want to build programs for people to tell their stories.

I want only to interest people in the world around them. It doesn’t matter how. I can write for you, cook for you, or explain to you the nuances of rock-climbing. I don’t care – I just want to evoke your curiosity and hold it to your surroundings. Finance lets me do that and get paid for it. Even better, I get to do it in Spanish!

How lucky am I?! Sometimes the archeological dexterity it takes to use three vocabularies to compose a single argument makes me want to laugh in a crowded train car – unprovoked.

To interest people in the world around them – that’s why I do the things I do. Personal finance is indeed interesting, but it’s only one method, incidental to my career. It’s just one way of making the verb ‘interest’ actionable. It gets me out of bed in the morning.

Please – contact me. Call me. Interest me in your world. It doesn’t have to be about finance, but if that’s the language you want to learn, I’m more than happy to hear your story and study your art.

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One comment

  1. Rick Paddock · · Reply

    Really enjoyed this one. Basic reaction: yep, that’s Jeff!

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