Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Unclogging My Cash Flow

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Total Black: $93.21
Total Red: $229,501.71

I mentioned in plenty of prior posts like Feelings and Finances or Debtor’s Revolt that managing cash flow is really my main problem.  It was never paying my bills.  It certainly wasn’t my earnings; I made enough there, at least a few years back.  But even back when I had a six-figure job, I often went from paycheck to paycheck each week without much in cash.  Thanks to a lesson learned in Waiting For the Guilt To Subside, I avoid doing that any longer.  This week, however, I fell off the wagon a bit.  I admit it.

Total Black is down a bit from yesterday’s post.  My mother sent me a check for fifty dollars as a belated Christmas present for a few items she took back.  The glass carafe for my coffee pot cracked a few weeks back (been living off tea pretty much since), so my mother offered to replace it for me in lieu of the items she returned.  I deposited her check yesterday and sent the balance to another credit card; total red doesn’t reflect it yet though.  Total red is up a bit too because—frankly—I forgot about my Back to Cash promise.  I’ve been using my AmEx to buy lunch a few times this past week.  That’s stopping today.  I had to use it for the carafe replacement.  But it just slipped my mind to not use it for my lunches.  When you’re staring at documents for hours on end, you tend to forget about the world outside your document dungeon and your seemingly bottomless stomach.  I knew enough not to use my debit card though.  Slight bit of progress there.

My slippage started last week once I had finished the food I had brought with me to work, a peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwich (much better than grape, by the way) or a turkey and cheese sandwich, some raisins, a few sticks of celery or carrots, etc., and then hours later, since we’re working between ten and twelve, I’d feel hungry again.  I’d only brought one meal with me though.  So I ran out for a snack.  Then a day or two later, I ran out of food at home and started purchasing lunch and dinner.  When I got hungry, I justified using my card by thinking a few steps ahead to payday later in the week when I plan to dump even more money on that debt.  Yesterday I was like a ravenous beast with a bottomless pit and must have stepped out about three times for food.  But that’ll be stopping now.  I just need to stock up on groceries again.  Glad I caught myself now after only a few days.  I noted in Financial Loneliness that groceries must come first not last.  I ate through what I had here at home last week.  With very little time to shop, I failed to use the cash I had on hand for anything other the bare essentials like bread and milk.  I’ll fix that this week though.

It’s surprising how difficult it is to unlearn something.  You’d think that once you have a “revelation” you’d never forget it.  But learned behavior is truly entrenched in our minds.  Replacing that entrenchment is key.  That’s probably why a new campaign against smoking aims to get smokers to realize they must unlearn years of patterned behaviors.  Similarly with food, it’s hard to unlearn years of impulse buying and knee-jerk purchasing.  Fast food places and coffee spots want us to decide on the moment that we’re going to grab something quick.  Very few of us set out in search of a McDonald’s or a Wendy’s.  Instead we get hungry and then wander the streets for food and come upon something.  We find a Pret-a-Manger or a Chipotle and grab lunch.  Voila: instant calorie gain and salary drain.

Time to clog that leak and unclog my cash flow blockage.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

January 19, 2010 at 08:05

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