How do the cards work?

I’ve taken a normal deck of playing cards and assigned to each card a Counting Zeros assignment. Each week I shuffle the deck, pluck out a card and look up the matching assignment.

Just as they are 4 suits in a pack of cards, there are 4 types of weekly assignments. [there were 4 different types — on Feb 5th I simplified the cards as noted on my post that day]

Clubs represent PRACTICAL assignments, things I need to DO DIFFERENTLY with my money. So for example the assignment for the 9 of clubs is to buy stocks and the Queen demands that I spend a 3rd (or less) of what I typically spend for the week ahead. Clubs give me tasks that I reckon it would be good if I knew how to do.

Hearts are about RESEARCH, stuff it would be good if I understood better. For example the King would have me comparing credit card terms and conditions.  Things that sound so simple, that I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but somehow never have.

The Spades are all about interacting with people or going on FIELD TRIPS.
I might interview an expert, visit a financial advisor or get myself to a self-help group. Things I would never do unless someone paid me or I was playing this game.

Diamonds represent TUTORIALS which are assignments that involve plumbing the depths of my own confusion on a topic and publishing my findings to Counting Zero readers. Tutorials the Diamonds might throw at me include diagnosing the brain-hurt I suffer in connection with pensions, piecing together the air miles puzzle, or adopting a Zen-like curiosity (rather than a semi-hysterical impatience) about how to use eBay or other re-selling options for wrongful purchases and other material items worth selling.

* * *

Other dynamics involved in the use of The Deck of Small Change

  • For each suit, Ace is wild. I am free to do whatever I want. I can take a week off from Counting Zeros, I can repeat an assignment, I can invent a new one, I can accept an assignment from Counting Zero readers.
  • If I pick a card I’ve played before I have the choice to play it again or put it back in the deck and try again.
  • If I temporarily don’t have access to the necessary materials for an assignment (because I’m travelling on a certain week), I’ll keep picking cards until I land on one that’s do-able wherever I am.
  • The field work assignments that Spades will toss at me do involve some degree of planning. Therefore Spades demands a two-step move. Step 1) Make a date to complete the assignment (e.g., find a seminar and sign up, contact an advisor and schedule an appointment) and then Step 2) select a new card to play that week. When I get to the week of the scheduled field work, I do not have to pick up a new card that week. The idea is that there is only one weekly assignment. Of course, if I can schedule the assignment to take place the week I pick the Spade, then I shall proceed as it would wrong and shameful if The Deck of Small Change had built-in mechanisms for procrastination!
  • Other stuff I’ll make up should I hit upon unforeseen glitches with the game. (I expect my readers will keep me honest so that I don’t abuse this excuse-making loophole.)

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If you want to offer me an assignment, please leave a reply in the box with your suggestion!


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