I might have been born obsessed with money. Throughout my childhood, I was bookkeeping and balancing my piggy bank on a regular basis, because instead of an allowance, we received our entire annual budget at New Year’s, to do with as we saw fit. I’m fascinated by how money is created, used, acquired, and how money affects people. Even with my near academic fascination, I still made a lot of common money mistakes. Wasting money on things I know I won’t like. Losing actual currency by being careless. Getting knowingly ripped off either out of convenience or embarrassment. Why does this keep happening??
Dollars and Sense is about the common money mistakes we make, and why we make them. A lot of these mistakes are subconscious; we don’t even know we’re making them. So what is causing it, and how can we stop something we’re not aware of?
It’s been quite a month. There have been a lot of ups and downs, trials and errors, excitement and frustration. I read other people’s stories about their first month blogging (which inspired me to reflect on my own), watched a lot of how-to videos, overwhelmed myself with information about writing and marketing and networking. I spent a lot of time wondering what I was doing. A few times, I even came close to wanting to quit. But somehow, I made it through the first month, and came out with renewed conviction that I can do this.
I’m not the best speaker. I struggle with condensing my thoughts quickly and formulating them into coherent sentences, often tripping over my words. Not surprisingly, though opposite of most people I know, I do better with prepared speeches, when I have the time to write, rewrite, edit, and practice what I have to say. But, speeches don’t figure prominently in my daily life. Other than for classes, I’ve rarely had to prepare speeches or presentations. I don’t have effective speaking skills for daily life, and my prepared speeches aren’t all that amazing either. So I’ve decided, I am going to spend 2018 learning how to be a better speaker.
Alan Alda’s new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, started with a trip to a dentist, a bit of jargon, and a cut with a scalpel. The dentist told him he was performing a surgery that Alda did not understand, and yet he allowed the dentist to make the cut because he was embarrassed that he didn’t know what the dentist was talking about. The results were disastrous. And it could have been avoided with clear communication.
Every year, I attempt to make and keep resolutions. Grandiose goals like losing weight or running more (it’s not hard to run more since I run never, and yet I still manage to fail this yearly) that are not in line with my personality, character, habits, and lifestyle. So this year, I’m focusing on five financial resolutions that I can easily follow in 2018. That should be doable, right?
I picked up Beth Kobliner’s Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties towards the end of last year, and the breadth of information was a little daunting at first. She covers the whole gamut from basic banking to investing to retirement to all kinds of loans. I always thought I was doing a decent job managing my money, but I realized, I was just mindlessly saving. And that wasn’t an efficient way to achieve my financial goals in life. So, without further ado…
“If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
That was the question the author asked himself, and that was the question that led me to start this blog.
In the last couple of years, I have been feeling overwhelmed with life. I had a work laptop so that I could work while at home, and my manager was trying to get me a work cell so they could call me at all hours. I was on half a dozen social media platforms, feeling like I could never keep up with anyone and wondering where everyone else got all their energy. (I’ve had to join about half a dozen more since starting business school, but that’s neither here nor there). I felt like I was being dragged along by the current of life rather than actively swimming (even though I can’t swim).
Eventually I became drawn to things like minimalism, decluttering, bullet journaling, hygge – basically, things about reducing and cutting back. I had tried to read this book twice prior, but couldn’t get into it; it wasn’t resonating with me at those times in my life. This time though, the message hit home. So I gave this book another try, eager to declutter my life as well.
Essentialism, by Greg McKeown, talks about trying to do too many things, and focusing on the most important things instead of trying to do it all. Life is about trade-offs, and trying to have it all will not make us happy – it will only stress us out further. Essentialism is about doing the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time. Things will not fall into place until all three conditions are met. It’s a philosophy about cutting out the overwhelming excess in life, and about doing LESS, BUT BETTER.