Because I was so sure that I was a wiz with money, for the past decade, I tried to ignore it completely. Believing it would magically sort itself out.
In the 12-step program, one of the tools that’s recommended is writing down every little penny you spend every day. (This is as part of the quest to not incur new unsecured debt every day. )
I’ve done a lot of big things in my life (as you probably have, as well.) And this idea to do such a little thing didn’t seem valuable enough to bother with.
But, when I started the program four weeks ago, I’d blown through the second inheritance and was again in debt, so I knew I had a problem.
I was willing to try anything.
So, I started writing everything down.
I didn’t have columns or any idea what I was doing. But I was reassured on the phone meetings that for newcomers, you shouldn’t try to get it organized yet. Just write it down as you spend.
And as I started doing this, and then looking forward to it, I remembered something. Holy Toledo.
All those big things we’d done… they all involved keeping EXACTLY these numbers.
When I was married and went on a six-month bicycling trip in 1984 in New Zealand and Australia, we had a budget of $30 per day. Every day we wrote down every penny we spent in a little notebook. We wrote it so tiny so we wouldn’t have to keep buying notebooks. It was a ritual. And it was oddly satisfying.
When we took our kids to Central America for a year, we had a budget of $950 per month. This was the amount our house was rented out for and our goal was to live off that. And we did. Again, we daily wrote down every expense and totaled it to see where we were in our monthly budget.
When we went to South America for six months, same thing.
And the other thing I JUST realized… we did all of that without incurring debt. And I was the one that did most of the record keeping.
I vaguely remember that when I went to Ghana the first time, I did track my expenses at first. But somewhere along the way, I lost it.
So, here’s my big realization…
The biggest things in my life were done at the same time I was keeping track of every penny spent.