Monday, July 30, 2012

Money Monday: July 30, 2012

Well, dang. Not doing so good keeping up these posts, am I? Honestly, I don’t know what is going on with me lately. Eh. That’s not entirely true. I know what, what I’m not sure of is why it seems to be hitting me so hard in the creativity. Writing, knitting, dyeing, anything that isn’t purely and only practical keeps sliding further and further down my priority list lately.

{purses lips thoughtfully} Huh…weird, ain’t it…?

ANYWAY. I did actually work on my List (from three weeks ago) (oy, I suck!), and I tell you what: I had a horrible time trying to do it.

Not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because pretty much the instant I started, I was trying to skip ahead, not only to here, but pretty much trying to do the and then we hit the >> button and everybody lived happily ever after, the end thing.

Which is so typical of me, really. “Hey, that looks cool!” {immediately and enthusiastically jumps for it} “Ow! Well, what idiot put a briar patch THERE of all places?!”

Sigh. Dear Me: The point of the exercise is not just to write down a bunch of random things and then rush out and start doing them. It is rather about creating a map with built-in compass, to help you actually decide where you’re going – instead of just ending up somewhere and, well, like it or not, it’s where you are now.

So, backing up a little bit and resisting the urge to start doing anything what’s actually on the list? And what are those things collectively trying to say?

The next step in the exercise is to start organizing things – by overall ‘group’ (that is, “things to HAVE” versus “things to DO” versus “family things” or “career things” or “personal development”), by relative importance and effort/duration.

The relative importance is the tricky part; nothing is “unimportant,” but not everything can have the title of Most Important. It’s highly subjective, too, which is tricky because you can’t go to Wikipedia and get a definitive answer on which is more important, the chicken or the egg?

It’s up to you. ONLY you can answer that. (Yeah, it does kind of suck - sorry about that.)

I have to admit, my list is pretty easy that way. Fifteen years ago, this part was hard, hard, HARD…but now, well, you know…there’s really only two categories.

One is around here and now. We’ve had a rather spartan few years, really, while I was hyper-fixated on scrubbing away all the crap that had accumulated over the years before them. I have a few things that sum up to “giving the Denizens back a childhood.” More extracurricular things, more art and sports (yeah, um, they’re not actually all that thrilled about that one – but, tough beans, it’s good for you, dang it!) and music.

That is the easy one. After all, for me, mommy-hood is my number one thing – getting the kids from infancy to adulthood is kind of my master-work.

The other is around increasing our independence – which is a trickier proposition. Right now, we’re heavily dependent on paychecks, and retailers. (Unlike everybody else in America, right?) We trade our lives for paychecks, which we then trade for goods and services we don’t have the time or resources to make for ourselves.

If the recession highlighted any one thing for me, it is how precariously balanced that web really is; how many of us were in a world of hurt almost immediately after a job was lost, even if there was another job still in full swing in the household?

How many of us felt the rapidly rising prices on everything from cornflakes to gasoline as if they were sharpened icepicks driven into our guts?

Anyway, it really brought home to me how dependent we are on the massive, yet rather antiquated, commercial engine that is the American economy. We need it from both sides, too – first, we go to work for it, creating goods and services for others to spend their paychecks on. Then, we take our paychecks, flip them over, write “Pay to the order of MegaCorp” on the backs of them, and shove them right back under the door of our own office, so to speak – in exchange for the goods and services that make up our lifestyles.

It’s not that I want to build a compound and live entirely apart from the world (please. I love soft, clean sheets and Starbucks as much as the next minivan-driving suburbanite), but more that I don’t want all our eggs in the same basket. I don’t want us dependent on one or two regular cash-infusions from MegaCorp, followed by a need to turn right around and sign that check over to MegaCorp in exchange for t-shirts, electricity, groceries and everything else that make our lives what they are.

Seems like a great idea to me.



What does that really mean? What does “mission accomplished” actually look like, on something like that? What are the steps to get there?

This is where the dreaming begins to merge into the real world. Nothing is impossible, but not everything is easy; but neither is it automatically as hard as it might sound. Sometimes you look at something “big” and think it’s too big, or too far from where you are right now, and give up on it immediately.

But if instead you look at it not in terms of “the whole big thing” but rather as individual steps, one thing at a time, each individual step isn’t that big a deal. Each step is do-able.

And it is astonishing how often it goes faster than you thought, how one step leading to another and another “suddenly” becomes mission accomplished.

But it can’t happen if you don’t start taking the steps. And you can’t start taking the steps if you don’t know where you’re trying to go.

I think I’ve got a good rough idea – now, I’ve got to pencil out some ways and means and turn it into an actual map.

Hopefully with built-in compass.

And also a martini dispenser.

Because that would be COOL.


PipneyJane said...

Can I have a dacquiri dispenser instead, please? With different flavour options, all made from fresh fruit? :o)

I always look forward to your Money Monday's, Tama. They stir up my brain and get it thinking about more than the here-and-now. One thing I was amusing myself with this morning was listing those little, frugal things that are so automatic to me now and which save me money, but don't actually cost me much in time: batch cooking dried beans, that sort of thing. I was thinking of turning it into some sort of meme.

- Pam

Colleen Mole said...

Please tell me you're going to fill us in on your plan to accomplish this! Its not a secret right? Cause you and I have similar goals and I need all the help I can get! :)

Anonymous said...

The difficulty in getting started is handled pretty well in "Your Money Or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez.
He handles it by having you follow 9 Steps.
Just like you had 4 figure experience and 5 figure dreams 15 years ago.
Now you have 5 figure experience (income) and 6 figure dreams (retirement).
His method is to "back into" what you need and what you need to do by tracking what you have and where it goes and relating that to how fulfilled you feel. Built into the methodology after you do it for a few months is a projection of when you will be Financially Independent.
The thing that is *crucial* is to not skip any of the steps.
Don't skip any of the steps.

Colleen Mole said...

Anonymous, thank you for the suggestion! I actually have read Joe's book (probably need to read it again) and implimented the first big step of tracking. Have been doing that for 1 year, 8 months now. Man its harder with a toddler under foot! But, you are correct, I have made the mistake of skipping steps. Must get back on track! (Now, getting my DH to cooperate is the next hurdle in my plan). Thanks again for the motivation!