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Commentary: Life, as chronicled by cash


Personal spending reveals much more than the things we purchase.

My husband and I have recently started to get serious about our personal finances. While we were both fairly responsible with money before we got married (part of the attraction, frankly-yes, we were pragmatic 40-somethings), and have merged our accounts and our spending and saving patterns rather painlessly, we haven't really had a master plan. We are creating that plan now.

Part of that process, as any personal finance expert will tell you, is ruthless scrutiny of one's spending. You have to track the inflow and outflow of every dollar, and often you discover-sometimes in rather horrifying ways-that your spending does not reflect your personal priorities and values, and it is doing nothing for present-day peace of mind or future security.

That's when the fun begins: bloated budget categories for non-essentials get surgically amputated-or at least shrunk dramatically-and allocations for paying down debt and saving for retirement and other goals undergo massive augmentation. It hurts, but it “hurts good”-like sore muscles after a vigorous workout, the pain points ahead to greater health and well-being.

So in that personal context, I've been extra-interested in a new series on dvm360.com, “Personal accounts: True tales of veterinary spending,” which relays every dollar spent by a veterinarian or team member over the course of a week.

With associate veterinarians carrying staggering student debt loads, and with technicians taking home microscopic paychecks, the results are fascinating, eye-opening and sobering. The realities that we sometimes talk about in the abstract in the veterinary profession take on human form-and human pain.

These accounts also emphasize the passion that drives most veterinary professionals in their careers. Because it's certainly not the money or the ability to live a lavish lifestyle.

However we all come to financial equilibrium in life, we get there by traversing the path of daily choices. And Personal Accounts gives a glimpse into the choices your colleagues make every day.

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