It’s All Just Numbers

Posted by Mrs Money on August 4th, 2009

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numbers.jpgAll day long I work with numbers. I look up balances of checking accounts, Certificates of Deposit, Savings accounts, etc.  Some people are very fortunate to have many numbers (lots of money) and some people don’t have very many numbers (little money).  I’ll never forget the day I deposited a check for over two million dollars.  $2,000,000.  It seemed like a lot of money when talking about it but in reality it was just a piece of paper with numbers on it.

Sometimes personal finance just seems like you’re shuffling numbers around, shooting for a goal of $0 remaining on loans, and a goal of whatever set amount of dollars in your emergency fund.  I know when I paid off my student loan, it was less than dramatic.  I felt underwhelmed, like I should be throwing a party or drinking a bunch of Kool Aid or staying up all night playing Wii.  There it was, I had $0 remaining that I owed.  Big deal.

I think it’s funny how our lives pretty much revolve around numbers.  If you don’t have enough numbers in your checking account, you can’t buy groceries.  You can’t pay rent or your mortgage.  And God forbid if you have red numbers.  That is even worse!

Then you think of the people who have many numbers in their savings accounts.  They have the fully funded emergency funds, the envy of the people with the small numbers.  Are they truly happy?  Maybe not, but they have lots of numbers!

I find it a little strange to think that I have xx,xxx. in a savings account but it doesn’t feel like I am rich.  It doesn’t feel like I have tons of money.  It just feels like I have many numbers in that account that I can shuffle to my checking account if needed, or just leave there to gain more numbers.  I think it would feel more real to me if it was cold hard cash.

Do you feel like it’s all just numbers, or is it just me?  

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4 Responses to “It’s All Just Numbers”


  1. Jeff says:

    This is interesting and something I think about often—how we’re constantly having to shift our brains from the abstract to the concrete when dealing with money and what it can buy. Even actual cash, while it is a concrete object, is basically just worthless paper representing an abstraction. Two identical pieces of paper can have hugely different values depending on what number is written on them. We’ve really just taken abstraction a step further with cards and electronic payments, to the point where yeah, it all does seem unreal sometimes. The more adept people are at dealing with abstraction, probably the better they will be with money. I’m not great at math, and really sometimes wonder what money even is. Where does one dollar stop and the next one begin? And what the hell does the Federal Reserve do? One mental trick I have is to divide the the balance of my accounts by 5.95, and this tells me how many Chipotle burritos I could buy. Then I feel rich. Sorry to ramble, I’m really not high, just found your post interesting…

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jeff- I love your comment! I’m glad I am not the only one that things about crazy things like this. Yum, Chipotle!

    [Reply]

  2. cavewoman says:

    For me, I don’t think it’s about numbers.
    It’s about freedom.

    Freedom to not be in debt. Freedom to get the “thing” that I need when I need it. Freedom to cover the inevitable expenses of life if you should lose your job like I did, once upon a time.

    Everytime I write that check to Sallie Mae for my student loans, I send it with a little “thank you” card. Mainly because I am grateful for my education, for what it has allowed me to do, for the interesting places that it has allowed me to go and work. I live my dream because I received that education. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what that loan money let me do.
    So, I write a little “thank you”, and know that when I’m done paying off that debt, that means there will be “that much” more money in the governments coffers to allow some other young soul the opportunity to find their dream.

    I don’t have much money. But that little bit gives me freedom. And for that…I’m thankful.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    cavewoman- How awesome! I think that is an awesome attitude to have. Attitude is everything! Freedom is amazing, and there’s nothing like being out of debt!

    [Reply]



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