Advanced patience

Growing up is a lot about patience and routine. Sure, the acrobatic moments of impulse decisions, spur of the moment road trips, romantic weekend getaways, and lottery winnings tend to get all the gloss, but normally success comes down to sweat and grind. This has all been said before. One percent inspiration, ninety nine, etc. But still, sometimes you have to reflect on, and observe, the effects of patience in your life. Without learning how to deal with the rigorous ennui of life, we’d all be street people. And street people don’t have careers, investments, great works of sculpture or blogs. Or do they? I hope not, that’d totally blow my hypothesis.

I’ve finally gotten around to arranging my investments into a purpose driven format. Instead of just throwing all our savings into one giant pile at the end of the bed, I’ve now got a neat system figured out with percentages, pie charts and email notifications. What happens is I’ve got six short term savings goals to accomplish. Money gets placed in one account, but instead of being viewed as one balance, it’s hypothetically divided into several sub-accounts. The original article from which I drew inspiration for this tactic suggested it was a way to satisfy a person’s need for impulse gratification. Oddly, I’m finding the exact opposite to be true.

Until recently, my wife and I only had one accomplishment to aim for: moving to our new place. This worked out okat the time, as we were fairly novice at saving and investing (and I guess we still are). I had just come out of a pretty severe, several year illness, and she was just starting to work her way up in her career. Just paying bills was ok, saving towards a move was a nice, simple icing on the cake. In a way, any amount of savings thrown towards this goal was good. So if we had, for instance, one hundred dollars to save, putting fifty away and spending fifty on entertainment seemed ok. It was a stepping stone on learning the patience of savings. At the same time, I could pretty frivolously spend small amounts of money at will, which I found very satisfying. My wife, God bless her, is content to just read and put together jigsaw puzzles in her spare time. This onus is all me…

Now that the money’s divided into six chunks, with some fairly large end goals each (two, six, ten thousand dollars, etc) that hypothetical one hundred dollars earlier doesn’t really gratify at all. Even a larger sum, say a thousand dollars, only bumps up the balances in small, very unrewarding increments. And I think that’s the lesson that I am learning here. I feel like an addict when I give up significant portions of discretionary income. But if I don’t, the amount being saved feels almost negligible. I’m left needing to save more. I question “Do I really need this XXXXX?”, or “How much would foregoing XXXXX raise the balance in X account”.

It’s totally baffling to me that an exercise designed to satisfy an impulse should instead be making me slowly, and psychologically painfully, learn to adapt a new, more mature form of patience.

I have mixed feelings right now, but I’m sure in a month or two, the rewards will be worth it.




3 Responses to “Advanced patience”

  1. 1 Andrew
    June 18, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I should get college credit for that lesson.

    It’s a good one, though. My goals mostly need to be conquered one at a time: get out of debt (December or February at the latest), then either finance and overpay or completely save for a car, then start saving for a house.

    The Plan™ is to do them one at a time because I’ve grown repulsed to being in debt. But it sounds like you two are on the right track, and I’ll soon enough apply the knowledge gained from this course.

  2. 2 asciigod
    June 19, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Having come from where you are (and have been!) with the credit thing, I do agree in that case the one at a time approach is pretty superior. It’s nice to wack a big chunk out of each one, and sadistically kill them for all the torture they’ve caused.

    Again, I’m not sure how much I like this new approach, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly my impulse to spend messing with my mind.

    A little trick that I did though, to help myself out, was make the percentages being invested in the smaller goals smaller. Like, I randomly threw Car Insurance ($800) on the list just as some spice in the mix. I’m only throwing like 5% of the total at it, but it’s a nice little reward built into the system. Once I finish that goal, the extra 5% goes to something else, but I’m sure I’ll get a nice feeling of accomplishment at that point that’ll drive me to stick with it for the other goals.

    Too bad “furniture” is on the list. I’m getting tired of watching TV on the floor. 😉

    BTW Good luck man, from what I’ve seen you’re doing real well. I’ll celebrate with you in Dec/Feb. ^_^

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