Ever get the feeling that you’ve overcomplicated things …

Not only am I aware that I do this a lot, should I forget, people remind me.

I’m still good with the fact that Counting Zeros has ground rules and goals that are daily, weekly and quarterly, but this weekend the card game caused a re-think.

For those of you new to the blog or regular readers who remain a bit sketchy about how the cards work, the Deck of Small Change is a game I invented.

Counting Zeros involves weekly personal finance assignments (daily would’ve been insane and monthly a bit wimpy). I came up with the assignments. Many might prove useful to other people, but they were designed to help me.

I thought about publishing them at the outset — all 52 chores that lay ahead. And then I thought better of it. It might either bore or terrify my readers. It would both bore and terrify me.

That’s when it struck me that Counting Zeros needed an element of surprise and randomness, so I came up with the idea to use cards. There are 52 weeks in a year and 52 cards in a deck.  Letting the luck of the draw determine the assignment makes the project less painful for me … the whimsy distracts me from the idea that devoting a year of my life to sorting out my finances could prove a gift from a sadistic, inner troll.

But a month into the game, I realise I’ve over-engineered the cards — because there are four suits, I wanted four different types of homework assignments. This means that only one suit (just 13 of the 52 cards), involves practical money exercises; leaving me 39 weeks of research, tutorials or field work. None of these really force me to behave differently with my money. And that can’t be right — I need more than 25% of the year’s exercises to involve learning-by-doing. So hence forth, a minor adjustment. I’m blurring the suits like this:

  • Both Spades and Clubs will be about doing things differently. Either practical exercises or field trips —  but not 13 of each; I’ve swapped out some of the field trips to UP the number of practical tasks.
  • Similarly, both of the red suits involve educating myself. For the most part a Heart or a Diamond spells plain, simple research. On the odd occasion when a topic proves particularly head-wrecking (at a guess, pensions) I’ll put together a tutorial.

Today’s card is the Jack of Spades and according to my newly re-gigged spreadsheet, this Jack involves the time consuming exercise of creating a filing system for my financial paperwork.

Currently heaps of bills and statements and tax forms are bunched up together and crushed into drawers of my desk at work — or into file boxes I’ve kicked under my desk (next to about 4 pairs of old shoes). Since I am not in the office today, I’ll take a photo tomorrow. I want a  BEFORE and AFTER on this one.

I read a book about filing years ago. OK, it was a CHAPTER in book — but it changed my life forever (not kidding). I’ll explain more about that when I debrief my assignment next weekend.

Till then, Over & Out

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