So I’ve been trucking along the last several days, reading Fearless Leader Jon’s e-mails and dutifully responding to them in my journal and, at times, on our Facebook group page.
To be honest, though, the last few e-mails from Jon didn’t inspire me that much. I don’t blame Jon. He is writing for a huge and varied group of people, and it’s to be expected that not every e-mail is going to be inspiring to absolutely everyone.
Anyway, then something hit me.
Something that I’m embarrassed to admit I only just realized.
All those challenges, all those questions to find answers to, from January?
Since I have a new hustle… I should have been doing them for it.
How on earth this only just came to me, I have no idea! But there it was. If I want my new hustle to succeed, I can’t just work from Jon’s second-month hustle e-mails. For all I know, those were written primarily for the people who were continuing their first-month hustle into February.
Since I have chosen a new goal… I need to be following the first-month challenges.
I suppose I should be glad that I realized this on Day 5, rather than, say, on Day 10.
Alrighty then! Here is me, attempting to catch up on 5 days of first-month-hustle challenges. (I’m not going to recopy and repaste Jon’s first-month e-mails, because… well… I did that last month. Doesn’t really seem necessary.)
Step 1: WHAT.
Well, I guess I’ve already done that: I’ve made my goal reestablishing our budget. So that’s taken care of.
Step 2: WHY.
I hadn’t really gotten into that, so this seems as good a time as any. Why do I want to reestablish our budget?
Because I want to know exactly where our money is going each month. Because I don’t like those last few days before Eric’s next paycheck, wondering if we have enough money to cover whatever it is we need. Because I want to spend and save our money more intentionally. (There’s that word again!!)
Also, because by nature I’m more of a saver than a spender, it will help me not to feel guilty every time I spend money. Because I’ll be spending only what we have budgeted for, and I’ll know we can afford it.
Finally, I want to avoid the panic of those expenses that sneak up on you. Like our car insurance that we pay only once every six months, or the birthday and Christmas gifts that suddenly we panic about, wondering how we’ll afford any, or clothes.
Step 3: HOW.
Eric took care a lot of the HOW when he set up our budget spreadsheet. I can record new transactions into our newly established budget without a lot of stress or finagling.
I also — wait. Are you sitting down?
Good. Because I also set up a spreadsheet of my own.
Okay, you can stand back up. I didn’t really set it up myself. I used an Excel template for a checkbook ledger and personalized it a little bit. So I didn’t have to do anything icky like enter formulas. All I have to do is enter information into the proper fields, and the spreadsheet takes care of everything. Including the yucky math.
People, I no longer understand why I’ve been so reluctant to use spreadsheets. They’re freaking amazing. Like little bits of magic that help me avoid doing math.
And to tell you the truth, the primary reason I have hated doing things like using a budget or keeping our account ledger updated is because math stresses me out.
So this is wonderful.
We’ve had this tiny basket in our kitchen hanging right next to the pantry to hold our receipts in. Of course, before I spent about an hour or so (maybe two) yesterday getting our checking account ledger updated with all our transactions for this year, it was stuffed and overflowing with receipts.
Just now I went to that basket and pulled out the one receipt from Eric’s trip to Walmart yesterday. And now I’m about to enter it into our budget and account ledger.
Hold on a moment.
Okay, I’m back. That took maybe 5 minutes. Gosh, I love that.
Step 4: Make it fun.
Well, when it came time for me to do heavy updating of both the budget and the account ledger, I added fun by listening to old EPs that I hadn’t listened to in a long time. That was fun for me because it reacquainted me with music I forgot I loved.
Now that keeping the budget updated takes so little time, what’s fun for me is just doing it. Watching the spreadsheets work their magic mathematic powers and relieving me of my duty to think.
Okay, obviously I can’t totally go without thinking. I did notice that we’re going to have to be careful with our spending until next Friday as far as groceries go, because we’re down to about $80 (especially if we want to go out to eat at some point). So I can make a mention of that to Eric when he comes home.
But now I know. And that’s a great thing. I don’t have to guess, I don’t have to worry… I know.
Step 5: WHEN.
Macro and micro. Macro meaning “when will hustling be hard?” Micro meaning “what time of day will you work on your hustle?”
I can’t really nail down a specific time when it will be difficult to follow our budget and keep it updated. I’m not a huge shopper. I don’t window shop very often. When I go to stores, it’s always for a specific purpose. I don’t even tend to go to online commerce sites unless I’m planning to buy something.
On the other hand… there is one time when I’m tempted to spend more money (or rather, have Eric spend it for me). It’s for grocery shopping. And that time is whenever I’m tired, not feeling well, or just feeling overwhelmed.
I enjoy cooking. But I don’t particularly enjoy starting to cook. Does that make sense? The idea of leaving my comfy chair or bed or sofa and heading off to start making dinner sometimes is too exhausting to contemplate. Especially when I haven’t yet figured out what to make.
So the challenge for me will be to be prepared for those times when I’m not feeling up to cooking, and not just sending Eric out to buy food (ie something that will make dinner easy).
As for micro: I think I’ve decided that updating our budget and ledger will be the first thing I do when I return from taking Elena to school in the morning.
I have yet to actually do this, mind. On the other hand, I have been faithfully updating and recording since Eric drew up the spreadsheet, so perhaps I’m not in real danger yet?
Now then, I apologize because this blog post is already too long, I’m sure, but I do need to (for old time’s sake, if nothing else) quickly paste Jon’s last 2 e-mails and record my responses.
Sometimes it might seem like these challenges are unusual. I would suggest that’s only because they are. I think usual methods tend to get usual results.
Today is no different.
Today’s is impossibly simple and incredibly difficult.
All I want you to do is to let go of last month.
It’s over. The wins, the losses, they are done.
January had it’s moment. It’s time for February to shine a bit. The problem is that we get stuck. Especially if you didn’t do everything you wish you had during the first round. (Guess what, no one was perfect last month!) Failure is sticky.
So today, we say goodbye to January. Over the last two days we wrung the purpose out of it, learning what worked and what didn’t. So now it’s done.
Write “goodbye January” in your journal or post that on the Facebook group.
It’s time to live in February!
Okay, sure. Bye January! Hi February!
Whew! One down.
Today’s challenge took me 13 years to learn. Hopefully you’re a faster learner than me.
Peer pressure is not inherently bad. It is simply a tool, like a hammer or a laptop. You can do great harm with it, or surprisingly great good.
Study after study has shown that people can accomplish wonderful things when they have positive peer pressure. That’s the heart of the 30 days of hustle Facebook group. That’s the heart of sharing your goals with a few real life friends if you’re not a Facebook person.
Our willingness to go public, creates an interesting momentum. We don’t want to let our friends down. This took me forever to learn, but blogging finally drove it home. Why have I been able to blog consistently for the last 6 years? Reader support. I know that there are people who are expecting me to write something.
Will I ever meet them? Maybe not, but even virtual peer pressure gets me on my laptop writing.
Your challenge today, is find a way to add an element of positive peer pressure to your goal.
Done. I’ve already learned that accountability has been an essential part of my making my hustle work. Blogging and Facebooking have been so helpful to me, at least in my mind, of letting “everyone” know what I’m up to.
Are you a second-month hustle-r (just saying “hustler” sounds so wrong!) who has been following both sets in your new goal? Or did you, like me, neglect to realize that the steps from January were just as important now as they were last month?