The whole “I don’t do money” thing is probably a lie

I’m going to let you into a little slice of my life:

Shortly before I left for college, my dad found out I don’t balance my checkbook, so he sat me down and showed me how it worked in hopes it would inspire me to greater fiscal responsibility. My financial inattentiveness has always frustrated him, especially since he teaches a financial class at his church. I like to play off the stereotype and tell him I’m the preacher’s kid of financial planning.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t balance my checkbook. Taxes freak me out. (Okay, this is partly because combining not being claimed as a dependent with having divorced parents is a toxic combination when it comes to filling out a 1040.) When people ask me about personal finances, I tell them “I don’t do money.”

But I understand how tax levies bond issues and debt service levies will affect your taxes if you live in the Columbia Public Schools district.

I guess I need to find a new excuse. Sorry, Dad.

This week, Abigail and I published two scanner stories about the tax levy and bond issue for Columbia Public Schools as part of our Columbia School Board election coverage. Basically, we were required to put together some Q and A style stories explaining the proposed property tax levy and bond issue with accompanying debt service levy that will be on the ballot in April. Abigail and I started out compiling the Missourian’s previous coverage, and we actually managed to get a decent body of work together. But after we put this together, we realized we still had some detail questions about how exactly these things work. I ended up speaking with both the district spokeswoman and district chief financial officer, and I learned a lot about how property tax levies affect people’s taxes. I could even tell you how this is different for homeowners and business owners.

I ended up really enjoying putting these stories together. It helped me really understand how big money issues facing the district actually work. I think I really have a better grasp on understanding things that are a pretty big deal for the community. And I’m starting to figure out I can’t hide behind my fear of all things with a dollar sign. It might take me a little more work, but it turns out I am capable of figuring out how financial issues work, and I’m capable of explaining them to others. It’s kind of a cool feeling. It’s definitely forcing me to reconsider when I feel like saying “I don’t get it.”

But still, don’t ask me about balancing my checkbook.

New stories: School District bond issue helps raise funds for construction expensesTax levy increase aids district’s operating budget

P.S. If you didn’t click on the link, please check out the landing page for the Missourian’s school board election coverage. While my contributions have only really been content, I was really impressed by how accessible and comprehensive the page turned out. It’s clean, easy to navigate, and, if I do say so myself, pretty stinking cool.


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