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Personal Finance: The Quarterly Status Report


When I was a younger, brasher young man, I felt status reports at work were the biggest waste of my time. I railed against the idea of simply telling people what I was doing in a report, weren’t they smart enough to see all the good work I was doing? I would usually be quite sarcastic in my reports, and most likely didn’t do myself any favors in helping impress people who might have read those reports (say my boss, or my co-workers).

As time passed, I figured out that many times my co-workers and boss really didn’t know what the heck I did, because they were too damn busy doing what they were doing, and that they relied on status reports from me to figure out whether the project was succeeding or not. This “revelation” was not an overnight thing for me it took a few years (as with most things, I tend to make the same mistakes a few times). What finally made me realize the importance of status reports was:

  • Inevitably, I would be asked by other people about something that I had worked on and achieved, and I was then able to point that person at my status report, where they could see what had happened, and they could stop bothering me.
  • I started reading other people’s status reports (OK the ones of the people who I thought were worth reading) and started seeing how much they were doing as well.
  • I started reading my own status reports and figured out that I was actually doing a lot of work (when a lot of times I thought I was wasting my time).
  • I got a good HR review in a year where I thought I hadn’t done much, because they knew everything I did, due to my status reports.

What does all this mean? Communication of information to a large number of people or even to one person needs to be done in a concise and readable report.

What does this have to do with Personal Finances

A while ago I read from another blogger about how they did a regular Personal Finance status report for their spouse so that:

  • The spouse would know all about their current financial standing, which is really important, especially if you have a spouse who attempts to eschew such “mundane topics” as your personal finances. It is a lot harder to ignore something written and handed to you.
  • The person writing the Personal Finance Status Report has to collect all of the pertinent data about the couple (or family’s) personal finances and they have to figure out what is going on. This is incredibly important for those of us who procrastinate about such topics as well.

Over the next few days I will outline my quarterly financial status report that I give to my wife, and she and I actually review together. I think it has helped us get closer to a situation where we both know what is going on with our Personal Finances.

I am not claiming this is something original to me, simply putting forward an idea for folks to try out themselves and see how it might go.


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Feel Free to Comment

  1. In many ways maintaining personal finances is just like maintaining a good relationship, trust and clear communication are necessary.

  2. Status reports are indeed a waste of time – unless they are read. Your narrative shows that pretty clearly. So you need buy-in from your spouse, which is not always easy (especially if buying things is more about “emotions” than about the stuff being bought)

  3. Good article!

    It’s important to regularly review your finances, and for both to be a part of the planning process. When reviewing your financial status, you should also review your insurance coverage. Changes in life, such as buying a home, starting a family, etc. can necessitate changing your coverage. Life insurance is a must in any financial planning!

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