How Would You Describe Your Finances?

Receipt Hog Phone Survey How Would You Describe Your FinancesIf you followed my quest for a stress-free Christmas last year, you know I’m a big fan of phone apps. More precisely, phone apps that promise me riches a few dollars in PayPal and a few dollars to Amazon. I know a lot of people write them off as a waste of time, but for a few clicks or a few snaps, I’m more than happy to keep them on my phone. Receipt Hog is one of those apps. Every once in a while, it asks a short survey after you upload a receipt.

It does so under the guise of wanting to know me better. Because apparently Google and all these tech companies don’t have enough of my data?

This survey asked, “Which of the following describes your attitudes regarding your finances?” Then, it listed ten different check box options that I could choose. Since I overthink things like it’s my job, I decided to turn it into a little thought exercise and see how I would describe my finances. 

Come play along!

I am more of a spender than a saver.

Not according to our spreadsheets. Looking at those numbers, I am a saver. You could also make that argument based on the fact that I have at least a dozen gift cards that are older than my son. Never mind that I’m pretty sure I still have some arcade tickets squirreled away in a bin in my childhood room.

But if you put a $5 bill in my wallet and send me out into the world, I guarantee you that it will get spent.

So maybe it’s both.


I regularly put money aside into savings.

This is true.

This is also painfully true. For years and years, I saved and saved when I really should have invested and invested. It actually took starting this blog and making Internet buddies with some pretty awesome people to convince me to move my Roth IRA to Vanguard…from a bank CD.

Currently, we save, we pay down our mortgage, and we invest in our retirement accounts.

I tend to buy what I want, when I want.

Not anymore!

But as someone playfully jabbed at me on Twitter the other night, I have been decluttering for five long years. How much stuff did I treat myself to in the past?

I don’t worry too much about impulse shopping for myself anyone. I am constantly trying to combat the urge to put a few more PAW Patrol stuffed animals into my online shopping cart, though.

RELATED POST: Everything I Tried to Buy My Son in the Past 24 Hours

I would rather save for a large purchase than borrow money.

Let’s split the difference here, shall we?

I’m a pretty big fan of creating interest-free loans with 0% credit cards. We’ve done that for everything from parts of our wedding and all of our honeymoon (I didn’t know what travel hacking was in 2013–put down your pitchforks!) to new appliances and my new car (in 2011). 

I didn’t put the last one on a credit card, but I did secure a 0% loan for it.

The catch is that when we do these financial gymnastics, we make sure that we have enough cash to cover most, if not all, of the purchase outright.

I don’t need to save now, I can save later.



If I really want something, I will buy it on credit rather than wait.

With the exception of the 0% credit card “loans” I mentioned above, I never put anything on my credit card that I can’t immediately pay off.

Back in the olden days (otherwise known all the way up until 2016), I kept a paper checkbook register, and I would manually debit each credit card purchase so I could immediately see the impact each swipe had on my bank account.

I keep a close eye on my budget.


Debt makes me feel uncomfortable.

It never used to! I blame the personal finance world for this one. Ignorance is, in fact, bliss. I remember how satisfying it was to make my mortgage payments each month. I never batted an eye. And I certainly never thought of my mortgage as debt.

Then, I started blogging.

Once I discovered my debt, it felt like I was swallowed whole by it. Now, I’m mostly at peace with it, probably because we’re closer to paying it off than not.

RELATED POST: How $39 Changed Our Mortgage Payoff Journey Forever

I feel overwhelmed by financial burdens.

There are layers to this.

We are on solid financial footing now, so the only concern is when I manufacture burdens by pretending that busting our grocery budget by a few dollars or even by $50 matters all that much.

But I’ve felt these burdens fiercely in the past. It was terribly burdensome to take an unpaid maternity leave. I was devastated the first time I was RIFed and cheesed off enough the second time to quit and find a new job.

Right now, we’re able to tackle obstacles as they come, and I don’t want to take that feeling of freedom for granted.

Investing for the future is very important to me.

Yes, yes it is.


None of the above.

It turns out that the survey would have been a lot more efficient if this read All of the above (or All of the above minus one).

How Would You Describe Your Finances?

I would describe my finances in three ways:

  • Comfortable – We are in a good place right now. We might not always be able to say that, so this is an excellent reminder to take a moment to savor what we do have.
  • Messy – There have been a lot of starts and stops and detours along the way. Once I stopped expecting progress to look like a line, I started to appreciate all the progress we’ve actually made.
  • A work in progress – I’ve really been embracing this fact more and more. There are many voices in the personal finance space that really have their finances figured out. That isn’t us. We’re a young family, and I’ve only just started to see a significant financial payout at work (and my husband is slowly and surely catching up). We don’t have all the answers, but we’re enjoying the journey.

It was a simple survey, and I really enjoyed the thought exercise that it inspired. If you, too, would like to find random inspiration when you snap photos of your receipts, consider checking out Receipt Hog. I’m not partnered with them in anyway except for the fact that they seem to have a knack for seeing in my personal finance soul somehow with their questionnaires.

So Tell Me…How would you describe your finances? Care to share what any of these survey statements would call to mind for you?



  1. I definitely feel like our finances could also be described as comfortable yet messy and a work in progress. Kids seem to flip all of our well-made plans on their head. Since I’ve had kids for almost my entire adult life, it seems like we’ll be headed down one path but then a kid will start daycare. And then, they will start school but someone else will start daycare.

    We need to completely overhaul our financial plan every 6 months. But we’re making progress. And we’re growing and changing and loving every moment of that. Enjoy each and every stage with HP.

  2. This is a tough one for me to answer, Penny. I guess I’d say they’re organized and, like yours, pretty dang comfortable. I am trying harder not to think about the individual details too much: our trendline says we’re very much headed in the right direction, so I shouldn’t worry if our individual data points get out of line.

    Like you, we are fairly motivated to get out of debt…but we suffered plenty of opportunity costs along the way, too.

  3. We are comfortably messy. We have a 6 month old and found out a few months after the arrival that the hubby’s job of 20+ years is ending. So now we are dealing with a new baby, part time daycare expenses (kid is at work with me one day and at with hubby one day) and a vanishing second income. Oh, and did I mention that our health insurance is through hubby’s company? So as a new mom Im TRYING NOT TO FREAK THE F OUT!

    We have a good amount of cash cushion. We habitually try to max out retirement accounts (SIMPLE IRA, hubby’s 401K and outside ROTHS plus cash in 529 and kid’s new investment account.) BUT STILL. Last year we did a Super Roth before we knew the company was going to let the hubby go. So we also have a tax bill thats going to eat into our savings.

    Still trying not to freak the f out.

    We could pull kiddo from daycare but that will impact hubby’s job search flexibility. And being a Chicagoan yourself, you get the waitlist at infant daycare part. So yeah.

    Trying not to freak the f out.

    Right about now I’m thanking my lucky stars that I worked through my 4 week maternity leave and came back full time immediately after. Job security I have but increasing income I do not. I’ve had multiple side hustles over the years but doing that now with an infant attached at the boob is just not possible.

    Hoping that hubby’s job search goes well and really hoping we go from comfortably messy to comfortable again.

    Send prayers.

  4. I am most definitely, without a doubt, in progress with my finances. I recently started using an amazing Google spreadsheet called Aspire Budgeting to track my spending. And woo. I was burning through money when I saw the calculations. I’m working on it now. I’m about to graduate and start seriously paying back my loans, so it will be important to learn this lesson now.

  5. I would describe my finances as comfortable yet a work in progress. I organize most of our finances and I try to be consistent by doing a monthly income statement so I know what’s our savings rate. But with us still looking for a home, we are not really settled with what our long term expenses will be once we buy one. For now, we are comfortable on saving as much as we can and have money ready on a down payment for a home.

  6. Same as yours: a work in progress, simultaneously comfortable and messy. I feel a very strong push pull of being grateful that I’m working with the best financial foundation I’ve ever had, but being very worried about the future anyway because I need a TON more saved in case I run out of good working years. Plus a side dish of resentment / sadness that if I run out of good working years, that means I’ve run out of good years, period and I hate seeing that possibly hovering so close on the horizon. But we don’t know if it’ll all end tomorrow, or in ten years, or in 30, so .. yay uncertainty! Heck, going back 10 years, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t have any good years past 30, so … who knows.

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