On my list of favorite things to do, going to the dentist for a check up oddly doesn’t make an appearance. If it ranks on yours, I’d recommend taking a pen and stabbing it into your hand to ensure you’re not actually a cyborg. If you’re a cyborg, power down and leave us alone. If you’re not a cyborg, I’m sorry about your hand, but you deserved it.
The reason I hate the dentist actually doesn’t have anything to do with the drilling or smells or that awkward moment when you’re gagging on your own saliva because the dental assistant has the vacuum thing in the wrong place and you try to swallow with your mouth open. I mean, I don’t like those things either, but those pale in comparison to the root of my anxiety. It’s actually simple: I hate the anticipation of finding out if I have cavities.
In my misguided past, I chose to avoid that problem by avoiding the dentist — brilliant! I’m more responsible now and average a check up every 6… 10-ish months. But that doesn’t change the pit I feel in my stomach while I sit in the waiting room reading 7-year-old Highlights magazines or while I wear that chic metal x-ray gown or while the dentist pores over the x-rays, letting out ambiguous “Hrmm”s and “Okay”s while I await the verdict. I feel my palms sweating when the dentist asks, “Are you flossing regularly?” But what does “regularly” even mean, right? So I answer yes. And thankfully, despite my not-so-honest response, I’ve had a clean bill of dental health the last two go-arounds.
After my visit, I feel euphoric. My teeth are sparkly, healthy, and I feel like I’ve just received a new lease on life. Even when there is bad news, I still feel relieved. I faced the beast straight in the eyes, weathered the news, and survived to tell about it. And you better believe I floss every day after the visit. For at least a week.
Where am I going with this? Here’s where I’m going with this. I think a lot of us feel that same anxiety as it relates to our finances. For that very reason, we avoid checking our bank accounts. Or we keep a tab open for months about how to debt snowball, because that basically counts as “doing it.” Or we choose to ignore “what ifs” and spend for today, ignoring tomorrow.
This is our wake up call. This is our chance to answer (truthfully) “do you floss” — except you’re the patient AND the dentist and you’ll know if you’re lying. So let’s face our demons and get this financial gut check over with.
Answer these questions:
- Do I know how much my net worth increased/decreased last month?
- Am I cheating my future self on retirement savings?
- If I lost my job tomorrow, how panicked would I feel?
- Are my last 10 expenses congruent with my budget?
- Am I more concerned with looking “well off” than being “well off”?
- When was the last time I saved money I didn’t have to save?
- What would I do if my car broke down?
- Am I insured against the things that would ruin me financially?
- If I met my soulmate tomorrow, how would I feel about turning over my Mint.com password?
- What are my financial habits teaching my kids?
Is sweat dripping off your mouse? Some of those were hard for me to type. It’s weird writing questions you know you don’t want to answer. But we’re all better off for addressing the good, bad, and ugly.
Pat yourself on the back for the questions you feel confident about, crack your knuckles and roll up your sleeves for the ones you know could use some work, and schedule a text to auto-send to yourself every single day with the question(s) that made you feel icky. This is your intervention, peeps.