I just went and looked at my checking account balance. It is $101.00.
For some people that might be a lot of cash, and not too long ago I would have felt the same. But for me, right now, that is a very small amount of money to "live on" for another week (until payday).
The great thing is, I don't have to "live on it." I don't even need it. It's extra. I will probably not spend any of it at all.
FPU is supposed to be about getting out of debt and then, more importantly, building wealth. You only get out of debt so you can free up your income stream in order to build wealth. I would not be interested in a mere "get out of debt" plan, because I have lived within my means and paid off thousands of dollars in debt more than once. But I like the wealth-building part of it. I want to build some damn wealth. When you owe as much as I do in student loans, "wealth" is a very distant-seeming goal.
The name "Financial Peace" means something. It means PEACE. Peace along the way. Peace knowing I am taking some kind of steps. Peace knowing I am a force of nature in my own life. I am not letting life just happen -- I am happening to IT. I may or may not be successful, but I tell you what -- I always go down swinging.
Peace means when I have only $101.00, I have peace. Not because I pray to Jesus to not let anything come up this week, though that might work for you. Not because I have a credit card with an available $1000 or $5000 line of credit on it for "emergencies."
I have peace right now because I have already withdrawn all the cash that I need to live on, and I have it. In my actual possession. And I know it's what I need to live on, because I decided it's what I need. I don't just have a wad of cash in my purse. I have money alloted for the various needs I actually do have -- and some wants like hair and make up, entertainment, having fun, and eating out. I have withdrawn all the money I will need to live on for the next week for daily living. I have bought groceries and will not need to go to the store for a couple of weeks at least. I have set aside money for anything else I can think of. There are things I have not thought of, because I just started this thing, but hey, I have the $101.00 extra sitting there just in case anything is truly needed that I did not think of.
And I have money saved. Money for me. Money put aside. Right now it is several hundred dollars. Not a huge amount, but...
I will tell you, Internetz, due to being in school for years, and before that trying to pay off debt, it has been many years since I have had several hundred dollars of cash available to me, that I have put aside for the long term. Occassionally I have put money aside for an upcoming trip or purchase, but never very much for Life's Little Emergencies. So when they have happened, they truly were an Emergency!
When I looked at my bank balance today, I started to feel this tightness in my chest. This sense of anxiety. I was not actually hyperventilating, but I was getting a little wiggy in my head. Subliminally I have felt that all my life, and now I know what it is, because I live without it a lot more of the time these days.
I was able to look in my purse and see envelopes with money for the day. I know I have more money at home. And I have a savings. I was able to look at my list of monthly bills and see that anything I need to pay online out of this paycheck, is paid. And I have taken money out of my last paycheck, and put some in there, so I paid myself first. So I probably have no reason to make any more withdrawals at all.
I also have made 2 small gifts to organizations of my choice. I am not giving away 10% a month like a tithe, but I am enjoying thinking about who I want to give money to, and who will get my small gift next month. I have some ideas. :-) My small amounts will not set the world on fire, but they give me some peace. Peace knowing I don't need to miserly keep every thin dime and penny that comes across my path. I can choose to give some of what I have to others, and to support causes and groups in which I believe. Believe it or not, that spiritual discimpline also makes a difference, in your training. That's what I am doing -- training.
No it's not all sunshine and roses. One thing I need, right now, and do not have money set aside for, is a crown for this root canal I had last month. I don't want to have gone through all that pain and trouble just to lose this tooth. So I don't want to spend that $101.00. I want it to stay there and be added to. I could just call it "Dentist" money, take it out, and stick it in an envelope. But I am going to leave it there.
That's another form of training. Learning to leave it alone.
1. Photo from "How to Create a Household Budget: Part 6." Trees Full of Money weblog. 12 Mar 2010.