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Your Pen Holder and Personal Finances

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Pen Holder & Personal FinancesThe picture you see is a picture of my jam-packed pen holder filled to the brim with all manner of pens, pencils, highlighters, scissors, Sharpies, and even a fake Mont Blanc pen we found on the flight back from Shanghai last year. Why is my pen holder a perfect analogy for my personal finances? The pen holder is an collection of all the pieces of junk I’ve collected over the years, from the free pens at trade shows to the ones I’ve taken home from the office. There is no rhyme or reason to it, no organization, just everything in one wire-frame pen holder.

Our personal finances, as I’ve learned when I put together our Personal Finance Users Guide, are very much the same way. I have a credit union account with my former employer, I have a bank account from back home in New York, I have a lingering 401(k) account, etc. etc., the list goes on. The fact of the matter, especially when you’re talking about simplifying your life, is that I don’t need all these pens much like I don’t need all those accounts. I have these pens because I’ve accumulated them over the years, which is a bad reason to ahve them.

So, how do I declutter the holder and declutter my personal finances? Easy, just remove the things I’ve accumulated over the past few years and reduce it to only that which I absolutely need. When it comes to pens, I honestly only need a few ball point pens, a highlighter, a Sharpie or two, and the scissors – everything else is going into a bag in the supply closet.

As for the personal finances, I’ve consolidated all my former 401(k)s into my Rollover IRA at Vanguard, closed all the unnecessary extraneous checking and savings accounts, consolidated credit cards, and cleaned up my paper records (shredding anything I didn’t need, it was two big bags worth). All that was after only five years of post-college working life! Now, every account that we’ve kept has had a reason for being there and that’s how it should be.

In the future, I think decluttering my personal finances will be an annual affair along with rebalancing investment portfolios. So, what does your pen holder look like? :)

{ 4 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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4 Responses to “Your Pen Holder and Personal Finances”

  1. john says:

    I agree, you need to stay organized, that way you can see everything quickly and take care of everything faster. I have on spreadsheet with everything in it. Bills, accounts, tips, advice etc. I also shred documents regularly. On top of that, I spend at least hour a month talking to my rich relatives about financial organization. If you wanna be rich, learn from the rich.

  2. Brandon says:

    I am doing pretty good. The only completely superfluous account I have right now is with a credit union “back home”. I was going to close it, but being a member gives me a discount on my auto insurance for some strange reason, so I kept it. If I change auto insurance policies, I would probably close the account though.

  3. Gareth John says:

    Simple is good, but there will come a time when you can’t find any pens. I don’t know how that would translate.

    Anyway, the way I see it more accounts are good in the UK (not sure about US) every single bank account be it savings or current etc… is gaurenteed by HM Treasury/Bank of England to the sum of £30,000 so the best startegy in these turbulant times is to open an new account for every £30,000 of savings ortherwise when there is a bank run with £80,000 of your money sitting there you may well loose £50k. Purely academic argument in reality there are many more risky/rewarding places where extra cash could be stored.

  4. fred@opc says:

    Your post reminded me of this guy:

    http://www.hackersforcharity.org/what-we-do/#swag_for_charity

    He has a charity that collects “swag” — the pens, pencils, notepads, calculators, and other things that companies give away to promote their products/services. They send the swag to needy countries and distribute it to kids (currently they’re focused on Uganda, Africa)….. perhaps its something to do with all those pens in your closet.


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