Each year is a workbook of 12 monthly spreadsheets with columns and rows by category. That is how I account for my life. It does not escape me that what it orders most in my life matters least, money.
From time to time, a friend and I talk about the carryover on our credit card, having paid the monthly amount but not having quite enough to pay the entire balance. We might pay no interest but the sheet is not clean.
Yet, if I look beyond my current expenses, I project balances that do not exist. I cannot know next month so I confine myself to the columns and rows that I can complete. But this spreadsheet is not without its Zen.
Every month I mine my finances, drilling down to every penny, as I record each receipt. It’s not that time-consuming as I don’t have many receipts. There are advantages to being “almost poor.”
Not the least of which is letting go of living in lack. That in itself is quite a discovery, having enough, and exploring all that I might do with it. Working within my labels, and looking forward to it, something I used to dread.
It was not the actual labels of personal care or household supplies that confined. It was lack. Before I looked at what I had, I was sure the month would outlast me, as if it were a contest, which it never was. It was a spreadsheet of columns and rows, choices.
Sounds like spin, and it may be, but living in lack is wandering a wasteland with no way out. Life in an infinite loop. Everything is never enough.
When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
I dive into each budget category, to its bottom dollar. It will always be 100 cents but shifted here or there, it becomes a receipt paid. It’s expanding the category, understanding that in some months the label of household supplies pays for personal care.
Rent remains rent even when it increases, like utilities, phone, and Internet. Bandwidth and a roof over my head are among the first paid. And then, food.
Life is not constrained by any label, and every time I try to make it fit, all I find is lack. It’s not the label, it’s my attachment to it. Best to roam the range of labels, keep my boundaries loose. That seems the Zen of it.
3 thoughts on “Spreadsheet Zen”
“Bandwidth and a roof over my head are among the first paid. And then, food.” Yes, I believe that would be my priority as well. Made me smile. Bandwidth means connection these days. And that is life saving.
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Being an accountant by trade, spreadsheets are part of my DNA. I find them to be very powerful tools, especially in the way you are using them, to analyze, organize and plan budgets. I often joke that we accountants are paid to “think inside the box.” It does seem to be so very un-Zen-like, but I guess we gotta use both sides of our brains.