Oh how I used to roll my eyes at anyone who suggested cultivating a gratitude practice. It seemed so contrived and pollyanna. No thank you. I wanted my “truth” unfiltered! I thought courage was not needing to talk myself in to feeling better.
Turns out it’s even more courageous to look at everything that is going well and right. I write a daily gratitude list and email it to some friends. Some of them do the same for me. It has been a multiyear source of delight and perspective-shaping. On days when it’s hard to think of things for which to feel grateful, I know I need to get some gas in the spiritual tank asap.
I’m so on board that I’m even grateful today that we have language defined for being “grateful”, and that someone along the way figured out that it is a muscle that can be built with practice.
I encourage you to find some gratitude for what you DO have. Many of us would like to have “more” money. When that “not-enough” gnawing in your gut kicks in, I encourage you to tell yourself or a loved one at least 2 things that you like about the money you do have.
In that spirit, I will share with you some things for which I am grateful today. Sometimes perfectionism can hold us back from recording gratitudes. I’ll write mine as I usually do…perfectly imperfect. I don’t ever have to justify why I feel grateful for it to work. It’s such a nice baseline for genuine happiness…let it flow!
- I finally switched my cell carrier from AT&T to Cricket last month. This has been on my to-do list for over a year. My bill is now more than cut in half for almost entirely the same service. (Literally, Cricket uses AT&T’s network.)
- Dr. Rick Hanson. What a joy! Welcome to those of you who found my work through his Wise Brain Bulletin. I sat on the retreat he co-led last winter solstice at Spirit Rock and have continued to benefit from his teachings on the brain science of joy and peace. For those of you in the Bay Area, he also leads a wonderful sitting group on Wednesday nights at Dominican University in San Rafael.
- YNAB. This financial tracking program continues to be the light of my financial organizing life. I know it can take a while to get used to, but I continue to find it well worth the learning curve. I have a way to get you a little discount, so if you want to take the plunge and get going on YNAB, let me know and I’ll send you the discount link.
- Seeing the Bay Area through visitors’ eyes. I just had one of the best vacations of my life, and never went further than about an hour away from home. My sweet brother and his awesome wife came to visit, and we really explored the beauty of the Bay Area! This was a totally priceless experience for me. And I know that the work I’ve done with staying on top of YNAB helped me be able to take some time off of work without guilt or fear, give gifts from the heart without stressing about money, and then know how to get back on track financially to stay in integrity with my goals. The financial belt-tightening I will do in July is without question worth the richness I got to enjoy this past week.
- BDA. Business Debtors’ Anonymous I haven’t explored a meeting yet, but I put these guidelines on my wall and I find them supportive and clear. This program is for business owners, but the guidelines are solid for anyone who earns money.
“1. We keep separate professional and personal financial records and bank accounts.
2. We keep clean, orderly and accurate financial records.
3. We pay ourselves a salary.
4. We pay our bills and invoice our clients promptly.
5. We remain mindful that dollars spent should generate revenue, and compare prices before making purchases.”
How to Save for Rainy Days
I encourage folks to call their liquid savings something other than the scary-sounding, “Emergency Fund”. Mine is the “Buffer Fund”. My nervous system prefers that.
I saw a neat snippet in the July 2015 Money magazine, page 44. From Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, “When things get rough, your emergency fund (ahem, or Buffer Fund) enables you to make good choices, where you don’t have to rush into a job you don’t want or dip into a credit card.”
The suggestion in the article when you are building your (Whatever You Want to Call It) fund, is to shoot for funding your fund for 3 months’ worth of one essential bill at a time. So if I were starting my Buffer Fund from scratch I might build it in this order…
3 months of rent….$2850 in savings
3 months of utilities…$330 in savings
3 months of health and dental insurance…$681 in savings
Even if I can’t do each bill at once, I can have a more distinct goal and chip away at it each month or each paycheck.
Happy July to you!
For those who are self-employed, don’t forget to send in at least 90% of what you think you will owe to estimated income taxes.
Also, happy Full Moon to you tonight (July 1st). May the surprises it brings entertain and inspire you.