Finally Listening

It has been at least a ten year battle for me to really take my finances seriously. If I could only count the number of old “Household Planner” and “Personal Budget” booklets and sheets that my father has given to me over the years. It would be embarrassing, especially considering that I’ve not made a mark in any of them. Not a one. There have been napkin budgets, budgets on Post-It notes and scrap paper, but never anything rigorous, methodical or accurate. That is until today. Today I realized that its time to take charge of the situation. To look it in the face and acknowledge it, understand it, sum it up and begin to work with it instead of allowing it to work me.

I’ve never liked money. I mean I like money, dollars and cents that I can exchange for food, camera equipment, flights around the world. That aspect of money is fine. I’ve just never liked all of the systems, mathematics, interest rates, tax exemptions, expense tracking, that stuff. The nitty gritty mechanics of it. Its just not something I enjoy spending time with, but, time is money and by not taking the time to understand it I end up losing time and opportunities.

Tonight I added it all up, my assets and liabilities, what I have and what I owe, down to the penny. So I understand where I stand. Its not bad. Its not good. Its okay. It needs work. I would like it to be better. At least knowing where I’m at I can start making some intelligent decisions about what “better” looks like and how I can take steps to get there.

I also started a budget. A real budget. No napkins here but a real deft and agile spreadsheet ready to jump to my every input and command. I’ve plotted it with estimates for the month, and now I’m starting to plug in the actual flow of money in and out of Kay Inc. This will be interesting. To see what I actually spend my money on, and how much. It’ll also be pretty interesting to see how much I make since I’m living in this new topsy-turvy world of self-employment. If I’m going to make a real go of being self-employed I need to develop a ninja-like skill for understanding where I’m at financially at any given time. Living off of contracts and gigs means riding an ever fluctuating wave of income. Sometimes the waves will be really high and it will be tempting to spend like there’s no tomorrow, but there will also be valleys that need to be traversed. Studying budget-fu will give me the perspective to know what I can and can’t do. Risk is okay, so long as its calculated risk.

So there we are. I stayed up all night doing math.

The sun will be coming up soon. Let’s see if I can catch a few winks before I need to start the engine and get stuff done tomorrow. After this week comes the storm. Setup for the Montreal Auto Show starts soon as do the Canadian Tire kiosk installs, plus my Illumination event and maybe an art installation for T-Comp (if I get the grant). Just a few days to get all the other things done before I’m swept up.

P.S.: I’d still like to get as much as possible through alternative economics – share-o-nomics, barter, local currency, etc.

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