Last week was, let me be honest, a hot mess. I didn’t track a single habit, I didn’t participate in hardly any of my daily rituals (really, only coffee intake was consistent). And by Saturday, my stress levels had manifested in neck soreness that was bad enough that I pretty much stayed in bed all day. That’s very unlike me.
Yesterday (Sunday) was better. And I at least found the motivation to go back and look at spending patterns from the week. They aren’t great, but there was an improvement in some areas. I’ll take my wins where I can find them right now.
The Case for Simplicity
Before I get to the weekly spending report, I want to talk about simplicity. Specifically, the need for simplicity during times of emotional distress.
It turns out that if you google things like “how to get out of this hole” you will indeed find practical instructions for getting out of a literal hole. You’ll also find some massive lists of “life hacks” for your figurative hole that are more overwhelming than helpful.
The truth of the matter is that the best way out of tough situations is usually to revert back to the absolute basics. We like to believe (and plenty of marketing tells us) that fancy systems, pretty apps, and complicated routines will solve all of our problems.
That new habit tracking app, that new pretty planner, and that pile of self-help books aren’t actually going to help if you don’t change, too. If you’re buying something because you believe it will change you or make you a better person, then you’re wasting money.
I’ve been there and I have the fancy apps, a stack of planners, and piles of books to prove it. And the more complicated the system you build, the faster it falls apart when the underlying overwhelm, anxiety or depression pops up. Simple is maintainable when we’re in tough spots. Simple is easier to pick back up when we have to let it drop.
But most importantly, simple allows us to work on ourselves and the underlying reasons that we feel overwhelmed. And that’s the reason that we feel drawn to all of those other things. It feels a lot more comfortable to throw money at our problems than to actually face them and deal with our flaws.
And so, I make the case today for simple money management systems. And I fully admit that I need to hear my own advice today. As I sat there yesterday trying to catch up a spreadsheet, a budgeting app, the tools in our banking apps, and my business expense system, I realized that while it all keeps my spending tracked and data flowing, all I’ve done is created a complicated, reactionary system.
With fiscal holes, the underlying problem is typically being reactive to your financial situation rather than proactive with it. The fact that I have all of this data is great because it means I skip the first step of tracking so that I can see my spending patterns. But if I never leave that step and move into the proactive part, I don’t do the work of changing the habits and moving on.
Having all of these tools makes me feel like I’m staying on top of our finances and making progress, but I still have not moved out of the reactionary phase. I’m treading water in a river and trying to take credit for the current moving me forward. It’s time to start swimming.
Later this week I’ll put out a post detailing what tools I’m dropping and which ones I’m keeping. In the meantime, let’s get on with the spending report and evaluation:
-$12.25 Transfer to Savings
+ Pay Day!
-$137.86 auto insurance
-$130 storage unit
-$600 truck payment
-$37.88 dog treats
-$40 Patreon membership
-$11.91 lavender essential oil
-$11.26 fast food (for kids)
-$26.34 dinner (ordered in)
-$84.84 Transfer to Savings
-$148.32 tattoo session
-$7.56 fast food (for kids)
-$18.12 fast food (for us)
+ Payment for Client Work
-$8 breakfast sandwiches
-$24.12 Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
-$10.54 take and bake pizza for dinner
-$420.03 business expenses
We have more “dining out” entries this week than we did last week, but spent $50 less in that category. It looks like we did good about not going out and sitting down to eat, but we fell into the fast food trap a little more often, and I spot 4 coffee outings this week. Balanced with the fact that we didn’t grocery shop this week, I’m not terribly surprised by this.
With the first of the month and our regular paydays happening this week, we, of course, paid quite a bit in the way or normal monthly bills and a large chunk of business expenses were paid, too. (The business expenses were invoices from my VA and monthly subscriptions necessary for running this site and Simplified Business Systems.)
Other than dining out, the entertainment area was a little high this week. On Thursday I went in for round two of my eventual sleeve tattoo. I have one more session scheduled to finish this piece and then I’ll be putting the rest of the sleeve on hold for a while, I think. If you’re sitting there judging this expenditure, I understand where you’re coming from, I really do. But I’m choosing not to feel guilty about this.
And on Friday we had expenditures related to our day out. My lovely mother-in-law offered to take our family on a day out to Union Station in Kansas City to see the interactive dinosaur exhibit. The kids had an absolute blast and I’ll admit it was a much needed day away from my computer for me. Josh and I hurriedly grabbed breakfast on the way out (we fed the kids at home, but didn’t think about ourselves, oops!) and we splurged on some chocolate treats, coffee, and paid for parking. Worth every penny of that little adventure.
So our goals for this week mostly resolve around knocking down that dining out category. And that’s mostly going to be on Josh as I’m traveling for a good portion of the week. The big habit change we’ll be looking at during August is being more proactive and less reactionary. I’ll be exploring where we struggle with that and ways we can overcome those obstacles.