The Procrastination Pay Off

This is me, working on my dissertation. Get it? It’s a joke. Obviously, this is not my dissertation. The truth is, I really like writing. Since I was a little kid I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’m a voracious reader and whenever I get to the end of a great book (great as determined by me) I always think, “I want to do that. I want to give other people those feelings. I want to inspire other people, take people to other places, help people see things from a different point of view, pull people’s imaginations. I do do this from time to time with spoken stories, but I haven’t yet done much on that mystical object – The Novel. I kind of always expected that what I’d write is fiction, although I am a huge fan of memoirs and these days one of those seems like a possibility, too. But you know, not even as good a possibility as, say, a meteorologist predicting rain. More like a completely abstract possibility, fit for daydreams.

What? He could be daydreaming. It IS day time. And it’s my favorite chair for daydreaming…

As you may have guessed, my dissertation is neither fiction nor a memoir. And certainly not the stuff of daydreams. Which is why you find me here. Today I thought maybe a quick blog post would help get me going. My goal for today was to write as much total crap as possible on the conclusion section of my dissertation. It sometimes help if I start by saying it’s ok to write total crap, otherwise perfection paralysis sometimes kicks in. I did get some much needed help this week from both a kind friend and one of my committee members, but I’ve been sitting staring for something like…let’s see…16 hours over the last two days and wrote – wait, I can actually tell you – 147 words. I have about 3 more hours to write before I plan to leave the house. At that rate, I might be able to get another…27 words written!

But that wasn’t actually what I came to blog about. I came to blog about…

This may only be amusing to me, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I typed the previous bit in about 4 minutes (quite a bit faster than my dissertation speed) but when I got to the topic I wanted to talk about, I couldn’t remember. I had to take the dog out, gather some sticks in the yard (the neighbors said they are going to put in a firepit) and go to the bathroom before I remembered that I wanted to talk about money.

Ah, the firepit….

ANYWAY.

Way back last year, my go-to plan for money was to pay for everything in advance that I possibly could. I put the down payment on the place I rented in May. I paid for my CSA farm share in June for October. I paid my car insurance up for the whole year. I tried to pay for my Uhaul in June. I knew that I was going to be very broke once I got to my internship. I knew that rent would be high and, well, I’m not even really getting paid a wage. I’m pretty sure it’s so low it would be illegal to call it a wage, which is why it’s called a stipend. I knew also that the cost of my food and Bodhi’s food was still going to be high enough to keep us pretty broke. And here’s the thing, I kind of enjoyed that strategy, the pay-it-all-up-right-now philosophy. I like the feeling that things are done and paid for, that I don’t need to worry about certain bills. And I always have.

In fact, as a kid, I regularly lost at Monopoly, and having played it as an adult, I think I know now that most of the time it was just that strategy, attempting to buy things outright, in full, all in one go that often bankrupted me. I never bought ONE house to put on a place, I’d pay at once to get all four houses and get a hotel as soon as it was my turn. Which meant that if I hit anything the next time around, I’d be too broke to pay the cost on their little property with the one measly house. I never figured that out then, and if I played today, I’d probably still do it.

All this came up for me recently because I realized that for this next move, I need to do something very different. Since I’ve been here, my policy has been, “spend as little as possible” (except when my mom sent me money for my birthday, in which case I spent it all, mostly on running gear). I also got some lotion making supplies when my loan came though, but that was really my only other major expenditure this year. I recently found a place downtown near my therapist’s office that sells running gear at ridiculously low prices. I wandered in originally wanting to see if I could look at some Vibram shoes in person, then I saw these clearance racks. I looked a while, but I knew I really didn’t have money for gear, so I left. Every time I go down there, though, I think about stopping in, “just to see what they have.”

I was looking at CSAs in the San Francisco area and was excited to see the different offerings (avocados, for instance, and blood oranges). Some places don’t even require that you sign up for a season, rather you just pay per box. I think there is some small savings if you do it all up front….but this is another area that I am thinking, “Just pay for it all right now!” But no, I thought, you can’t do that. You can’t spend any other money right now.

Live Earth Farms says this is a typical summer box

Then last week sometime, I was looking for new sandle-y shoes (mine are getting a hole) and I was stressing out about the cost. It was then that I realized – I need to do more than not spend money. That strategy tends to make me feel, well, poor and deprived. As some of you might know, feeling poor and deprived creates a strong push towards some kind of spending fiasco. So it’s time to change my mindset.

The new strategy needs to focus on future spending. Like, when I have a job and an actual wage. I mean, yes, I could use a new running bra, but the new spending strategy asks this question: Can you wait until, say, November? With the inches I’m releasing, maybe it doesn’t even make sense to get that running bra yet. Maybe I’ll want a smaller size by November! The new spending strategy says, buy NOT today, what you can put off till tomorrow. I mean, I will want to eat food from a CSA, but hey, couldn’t I just buy that, say, when I’m actually IN San Francisco? How nice will it be to ask other people what CSAs they like? And what if, by chance, I live somewhere where a farmer’s market is readily available? Maybe I’ll even prefer that! Yes, I think I’d like to buy a Kindle 3g, but really, will I even have time to read it in the next 3 months? Or buy books to put on it? Yup, I’d like a new earring to replace the one I lost, but really, am I just, not going to make it if I wait till, say, Christmas to buy it?

Yes, I have finally found a way to make procrastination pay. No pun intended.

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