By The Advocates

Travel back to Memorial Day 2022 with me. I had veterans on my mind and that got me thinking about my great uncle Edmund. We never met. He died in his mid-thirties, at the height of World War II.

I had little background info on Edmund, so naturally I assumed that he died in combat. But I didn’t know, so I googled his name. Up pops an ad for a genealogy service and they have documents relating to his life and death.

My curiosity won out and I signed up for a 14-day free trial of their service with a firm intention to cancel it in a day or two. I suppose you can guess what happened.

And that’s the story of how I spent $300 for a service I never really wanted.

You may have done something similar or know someone who has. It’s a bummer, but we tell ourselves that one quasi-accidental subscription fee won’t result in bankruptcy. This nonchalance results in tacit permission to make poor financial decisions of a certain size, or to ignore our finances altogether.

The “forgotten subscription fee” problem is a pervasive symptom of overall financial blindness. We don’t know where our money goes, we just know it’s gone.

If you can relate, we offer you the advice below, but it’s all predicated on a commitment to removing your financial blinders. Here we go.


Track your expenses using a method that works for you. Like paper? Go for it. Excel? Great.

Want something a little more modern? Try Mint, Quicken, GoodBudget and other apps that can automate transaction imports, track expenses/debt and set savings goals.

If you’re a client of The Advocates, you have access to Blueprint, a financial planning software that will help you reach a new level of understanding about your finances.

Go back 12 months, categorizing your expenses and identifying patterns in your spending habits.

You may (like me) suffer a little sticker shock when it comes to certain categories (ahem…dining out…cough). Take that shock and turn it into motivation.


Get serious about trimming the excess spending out of your budget. Your trouble areas should be obvious if step one was done well. Design some behavioral rules to target those areas. It may be that most of your excess spending isn’t making you happy anyway. You probably won’t miss it.

Shall we make an extremist cheapskate budget that allows for no recreation or fun? No. Be reasonable when making your spending rules. Here’s a couple ideas from advisor Kurt Box:

  • I won’t make a purchase over $____ without consulting my spouse.
  • I will wait one week before making unnecessary purchases.


Reallocate your budget trimmings to pay down debt and save. Automatic savings plans are better than ad hoc. Like your 401k contribution, if you don’t see it, you’ll probably learn to live without it.

Set aside emergency savings of about 6 months worth of living expenses. Choose a method for paying down debt, like highest rate first or the debt snowball method and stick with it.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I’ll reward you with the real scoop on old Uncle Edmund. Turns out he didn’t serve in the military at all. He was well-liked in his community at least in part because he used to run bootleg alcohol for the mob. He died of liver disease.

Go boldly, not blindly into your future. Plan with us. Schedule your free, no obligation appointment today.