So, I met this very funny & brilliant family therapist at a conference in Miami several years ago and this was one of his mottos.
That we can live a comfortably numb existence or be truly alive and therefore suffering a certain degree of discomfort. Not that pain is the only feeling we experience when we’re ‘awake in our lives’, but you can’t skip the bad and only take the good — though we might try. The extent to which we experience pleasant vs unpleasant feelings varies depending on our personality, biology and life luck.
It also depends on how often we engage in ‘self-medicating tendencies’. Being overly busy, for example, is one way to drown out what we feel about things. So are the many classic addictions. We use them to block pain and to intensify pleasure.
With respect to Counting Zeros, shopping, spending more than we have and ignoring financial realities in general, are some of the ways in which many of us ‘medicate’ in order to stay comfortably numb.
I should know, in the past I’ve been prepared to lose plenty of money (see unfiled expenses) in order not to pay attention to managing any of it.
I was reminded of this urge to avoid financial realities over the course of this week because:
b/ I realized I had a lot more work to do before I could complete this week’s assignment
The July challenge — good and bad news
The good news is that I correctly predicted how much I would spend over the course of a month. In fact, I spent £28 less than I thought would.
This is good news because my ability to do this was inconceivable before I started down the Counting Zeros path. Seriously. Not a chance. I could look back at bank statements to say how much I tend to spend overall but I could not look forward, list out the things I’d likely be doing for a few weeks and price-tag them. All those cash withdrawals? In the past, who knows where the money went. This is what my friend Fred refers to as “the untraceables”.
The bad news? The amount I predicted I’d spend wipes out my monthly take-home completely, leaving nothing left to save.
Which brings me to this week’s assignment — creating a few saving goals so that I stop doing this …
I failed. Not because I didn’t try, but because I have so much more work to do to understand what the future I’d like to have actually costs. What I did do is set up a standing order to save 10% of my take-home (have to start somewhere).
I also scoured the spend tracker to pluck the items it would make sense to save up for in the future. While I might save for ‘dreams’ like buying a home down the country, I’ve decided I should also save for predictably expensive costs such as travel and holidays and in previous years (before this year’s ban), my wardrobe.
Going forward I’m going to fund these items from my savings account, rather than my current account. I’m hoping this will help clean up my routine spending so that it becomes easier to save enough more than 10% over time.
Until tomorrow and the next assignment demanding a bit pain in exchange for being financially awake.