Just Ask…

Asking for help is one of the hardest things for me to do. Asking admits weakness, admits failure, and puts me in a vulnerable position. Asking for help is also the most freeing experience. Through asking, I find that I humble myself and start to accept that I have faults that need repairing. I also realize that I need to learn to become better, and becoming better is crucial to a happy life.

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My adventure started when I began setting goals. I am not talking about the type of goals that one sets as a child—I want to be an astronaut!—I am speaking about goals that are SMART, or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. I created an excel spreadsheet with a list of my goals, and when they should be accomplished. I quickly realized that some of my goals were not going to be able to be achieved by simply working hard. Hard work is crucial to success, but bashing your head against a brick wall will not cause the wall to come down. I realized I needed to develop skills. For example, one of my current goals is to become better with my finances. I realize that I need help from people around me. Yet, I do not want to admit that I have a spending problem. I do not want to show people my failed budget attempts. I want to bury my head in the sand, and pretend that there is not an issue.

Psychologists state that people bury their head in the sand because they feel guilty, and want to avoid the negative feelings related to solving their own problems. I do not want to deal with the fact that I am terrible with my own money. But, I also hate owning a maxed out credit card. I hate not being able to do cool things with friends. I hate not having a financially stable future. I know that I need help. The past couple days I called my best friend. He is one of the best people with money I know. I told him my issue, and he told me to map it out.

Over the past three days I put together an extensive budget via Google Sheets and shared it with my friend. This took hours… I put every single thing I bought on the sheet, and placed each purchase into a category. I began to realize that I was losing money seven dollars at a time. Seven dollars here, seven dollars there… then, no more dollars. I saw that I was spending way too much money on lunch every day. A problem that could be easily solved by making my own. Further, I saw that my habits were not nearly as bad as I thought they were. I was able to construct a sheet that calculated the average spending of each category and multiplied it over 12 months. I then set a saving target and reduced the future amount of spending each month to meet my saving target. This plan is not perfect, however, the data allowed me to make an informed decision about how to change my behavior, but I still needed to put the plan in action.

I view this like nutrition and exercise. First, I have to know myself. I must know what I eat, when I eat it, why I eat it. I also need to know everything about my base line exercise habits. Then, I must define what the target condition looks, and feels like. An example for money is my saving target. For health, it could be a certain weight, or a 5K time, or even an all-time high weight lifting number. Then, you have to make a plan. This starts by understanding your current behavior and making slight changes to move towards the target condition. For saving, it is spending less on lunch each day (a fairly simple task). For exercise, it could be just going to the gym 5 times a week (just showing up/not exercising). Then, look at the difference between your results, and your past behavior. This may seem simple, or extremely difficult, but it all starts with asking somebody else for help.

For example, my budget sheet is shared with my friend. He put together the same type of budget so we can both track each other’s spending behavior. This allows us to talk about our spending strategies and to learn from each other’s mistakes.

AAC

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