For years my chequing account has been a revolving door of purchases, bills payments, random deposits, bi-weekly employment cheques, car payments, insurance payments….and on and on and on.
In the past, if I didn’t pay attention to it for a couple of days, dozens of miscellaneous purchases were racked up with no rhyme or reason. These purchases served no purposes in my monthly banking statement and were examples of my frivolous spending habits.
My expenses were non-stop and senseless.
I sat down with my wife recently to go over our bills and spending habits. I’d focused for too long on trying to increase our income but didn’t have a clue about what was going out the back door. I felt like I was trying to get the ship to go faster without trying to plug the holes that were rapidly making us sink.
After scrutinizing the last few months of our chequing account, I was disgusted. A dollar here, ten there, 100 here, 20 there…It added up to hundreds upon hundreds of wasted dollars. Actually, ironically enough, the expenses that added up the most were the small purchases. The under $5 purchases riddled my account and added up to large amounts of money at the end of each month. A cup of coffee here, a bag of candy there (I have a major sweet tooth) and other minor purchases that otherwise went unnoticed.
It’s easy to quickly say yes to a $3 bag of candy and say no to a $195 purchase. A small bag of candy or a cup of coffee doesn’t even register in most peoples minds, but a $195 pair of boots or jeans takes a little bit more consideration for most people. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that buying a bag of candy, cup of coffee or going out for lunch once in a while will prevent someone from becoming wealthy, but it is important to know that it can slow down the process (in my opinion).
Ever since I’ve cut out these purchases and honed in on my goals for financial independence, I’ve actually found myself despising the thought of spending any money on things that don’t lead to my goal of breaking free from my job and living life on my own terms.
Money is going to buy my freedom, and a few $3 bags of candy can easily be dropped for the chance to bring me closer to that freedom.
Until I dissected my chequing account, I really had no idea what was going on in there. I had to scrutinize my credit cards as well to make sure no recurring subscriptions that I forgot about weren’t still being charged to me (this happens more than you think). I was able to quickly get rid of a couple of ongoing subscription services that I no longer needed and could do without.
Once I got rid of all the little unnecessary expenditures, I quickly saw the activity in my chequing account slow down. It went from a sprint to a boring crawl, and I was able to see what’s going in and out of my account. Now that the dust has settled I was able to properly see what transactions are taking place.
The main reason I did this whole chequing account cleanse, wasn’t to become painfully frugal and scrutinzie every single penny for the long haul. But I believe that until I can respect a penny, I’ll never understand and respect large sums of money. I know this may sound weird, but lately I find myself staring at money for long periods of time. I’ve never actually taken the time to look at money before. I’ve let it pass through my hands for decades and never really even looked at it. And it’s because I’ve never respected it and thought about the power that it possesses. I’ve never thought of it as a means to break free, I just thought of it as paper that lets me buy stuff. And a large amount of people in society think the same way. It has so much more meaning to me now.
Lately, when I look at things around my house, I ask myself, do I even need that? Or can I sell it and make some more freedom fighters for myself? Just this past weekend my wife jumped on board and made $600 selling stuff in our house locally. Stuff that I won’t miss now that it’s gone. Stuff that was stuffed in a closet that we never would have used again (60,000 more freedom fighters on my team). And it took just a little effort and a mind shift.
I’ve even put a mason jar under the sink in our bathroom and I’ve been filling it with loose change. Loose freedom fighters that I find in places around the house and the couch. I’m building my army of freedom fighters, one penny at a time.
Before…I was too egocentric to care about holding onto a penny, I was all about the dollar. But I failed to realize that 100 of those little “worthless” pennies make up a dollar. And collectively they can buy my freedom (together the ants will conquer the elephant, kinda thing).
Since I’ve been carrying on these practices, my wife has taken an interest in recruiting and finding more freedom fighters for our team. And we are both finding ways to liquidate things, make more money (even if it’s a few dollars here and there), spend less, cut unnecessary bills, and hold on to the money that we do find and make.
Ever since I’ve been following these practices, more money has been finding its way into my pockets (and staying there)….one penny at a time. I’m repairing my relationship with money. I’ve mistreated and mishandled it in the past, and it’s now time to find out how to multiply it and how to mend our relationship. And I’m willing to go deep into research to find out how money works and how I can gather it, keep it, and deploy it where I need it to go to eventually fund my escape from the rat race.
I held a $20 bills last night and studied in for almost 5 minutes. I looked at the color, texture, pictures, serial numbers, edges and the way it felt in my hand. Yes, I’m becoming romantic about my money, because it is the one thing that can unlock the key to the shackles that make me leave my house for 40+ hours a week to work for someone else. If working for someone else and not being financially independant doesn’t open up some pent up anger and frustration inside you, then this blog is not for you. Because that’s what money trekker is all about. Going down the difficult path of trying to understand how money works and using it to free oneself from a life crafted around a 9-5 job.
I still have a lot to learn about money and how to become financially free. but I firmly believe that starting with understanding what a single penny means to me is the first step in the right direction.