Two things that are true:
1. I like lists and planning
2. I hate budgeting and am bad with money
In my marriage, I am a spendthrift and my husband is what I will charitably call, “frugal.” As the years have passed, it’s become important to me to change my ways, both for marital harmony and because I’ve come to realize that I am still paying for fancy jeans I bought in 2003 even though the pants are long gone.
As a part of coming in to grown-up financial responsibility, I have a new, recurring task that I try to complete each week: “read something about money.” I’m now reading the personal finance classics, listening to a podcast about money, etc.
Last week, I had my annual meeting with the wonderful TIAA-Cref representative for my campus. We talked retirements, Roths, college savings for my daughter—real-deal grown-up financial stuff. I took notes, we made plans, I came home with goals and a new commitment to work through the budget.
But this meeting wasn’t a book or article, and, like some weird to-do list originalist, I kept my “read something about money” on the calendar.
By the end of the week, I had not successfully completed this task as literally described by my plan for the week. As a result, the predictable bad feelings.
But while I hadn’t met the “letter” of the law, I had far exceeded the spirit of the thing, doing a lot more for my family’s finances than a reading of Rich Dad, Poor Dad would have gotten me.
Upon reflection, I think it’s worthwhile to not be too much of originalist (whether that comes to the to-do list or other matters….though that’s a topic for another day). The founding author of the document (the me of a week ago), couldn’t foresee all that would happen across the course of the days as they unfolded.
Too much rigidity can be its own form of both procrastination and workaholism, a way of filling one’s schedule with tasks present for their own sake rather than their real importance. Better, at least in the case of the to-do list, to be a bit more open to interpretation, treating it as a living document that should reflect the needs of the person it serves.
Get a Life, PhD
The Professor is In
The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote