Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meticulous By Nature

Okay, here's a subject I've been meaning to blog about for awhile but was too.....shy? talk to people about it, much less toss it out on the internet for all and sundry.

I am a record keeper. I am a list maker. I am also, more and more, becoming an analyzer of said records and lists. This is a good thing!

The bottom line is: I love financial records. Yes, I'm an artist, and yes, I love spreadsheets. These behaviors typically illustrate the use of very different parts of the brain. Often, the creative person is "right brained," the organizing, analytical person is "left brained." So...I guess I get to brag that I'm "whole brained." I'd love to brag that I'm "Big Brained," but I don't think I quite deserve that moniker.....not yet, anyway. I'll work on it. Promise.

Anyway---back to my big reveal: I love keeping financial records. In 2008, I recorded everything my household spent and earned in a series of monthly budgets. Yes, I wrote down everything, everyday.....and enjoyed it. I have a spiral bound notebook that I keep all initial records in pencil. At the end of the month, I compile the info and enter it into various spreadsheets (just Excel, no special software) dedicated to income, utilities, debt payment, savings, etc. This month, the first month of a very promising new year (fingers crossed with such good intentions!) I got to compile 2008 into a full dossier to analyze what had happened---what came in, what went out, what the bottom line is.

It was so fun and cool, I can't even describe it. The photo above is a partial shot of the most important page----the spreadsheet where I got to put in each months expenses, dedicated by account, and then add it up. (And I color-coded it----can't leave the artist in me out of it.)

The dossier is a three ring binder, with intro analysis pages of what we did right and what we can improve on, money-wise. Thanks to a finance class I took last semester, I learned how to formulate income statements and personal balance sheets, so those are also in the book. The really neat part? Doing it ALL again in 2009 and then comparing the books in January 2010. It will be SO COOL.

I haven't been able to show anyone my dossier. I mean, I've tried to talk to a few friends about it...testing the water....and usually I get this I'm talking about the intricasies of sewage treatment processes. Seriously! They give me a look like I'm just a little crazy. I don't reveal our numbers or talk in pure money amounts (except for the other half of Team Sharima, she understands, or is, at least, willing to listen) but I outline what I've done. So far, haven't found any kindred souls.

Any kindred souls out there?

The nifty thing about having this information at hand is the viewpoint I've gained:
We don't make a lot of money and we don't spend a lot of money, and we live really well, regardless. I can now say I have irrefutable proof that we know how to work hard, be frugal, be sensible, and are ass-kicking DIY'ers.

And now....on to something more pretty and lighthearted.....

This is a Cattleya 'Secret Love' that my sis found abandoned in an office where she works. I've been nurturing it back to health for about a year. The reward: this lush, fragrant blossom. At around noon, this flower wallops out a perfume scent you wouldn't believe! Then it quietly goes back to just being good on the eyes. My first cattleya...

A close up in a rare patch of sunlight. This winter has been damned cold and frequently overcast. Today? Sunny, but the temperature plummeted to -21 F overnight.