Chapter 5: Open Your Eyes Before Your Wallet

To say that Red fought having to deal with her family finances is a huge understatement. But she finally summoned up the courage to start looking at their financial situation (well, maybe not so much courage as it was surrendering to Black's insistence) and slowly starts working her way through Black's six step "Where Is Your Money Going" checklist. As she prepares to tackle Step 4: Develop A Realistic Budget, Red gets to break some surprising news to Black about a fond childhood memory.

P.S. – Red rarely gets the "upper hand" in terms of her older sister, Black, and for it to be related to money makes it even sweeter. Yet, she'll admit that for all the enjoyment of getting to "break the news" to Black, she'd have been better off having the same childhood "punishment" as Black.


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OK. I'm ready to tackle Step 4. Is this something we can do via e-mail or do I need to come over and see how you do your budget?


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Here is where I have to say, "Do as I say, not as I do," because I have not done a personal budget in years. But I can remember my first one.


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You remember your first budget? You have a strange collection of fond memories!


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It was when Mom put me on a clothing budget. She gave me an amount I could spend every year and wrote it on a big manila envelope. Every time I bought something, I would deduct that amount from the total and put the receipt in the envelope. I always knew how much was left in my budget, so I never had to ask if I could buy something. Mom was brilliant!


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[Silence for 5 seconds, followed by a burst of laughter.] You're kidding, right?


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No, it was brilliant.


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No, it was a punishment! It wasn't Mommy's way of teaching you about money; it was her way of controlling you. She was tired of you constantly wanting to buy clothing, and so she did it to shut you up.


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Are you sure?


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Very. Mommy told me the story many times. You loved expensive clothing, so she came up with a number that was less than she was willing to spend and told you that was your "budget." I only liked cheap stuff, so she never gave me a budget.


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Then she did you a huge disservice, because whatever the ulterior motive, it was brilliant. Besides teaching me how to budget, it taught me to save for future purchases and motivated me to get part-time jobs in high school so I would have more money. Which all probably contributed towards making me feel comfortable with finances. I ended up being one of the few women in graduate school majoring in finance and spent the first half of my corporate career in financial planning and budgets.


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Fine. You live a charmed life! You're the only person I know who could turn a punishment into a career.


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But remember, I had no idea it was a punishment. Until today.


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Which I find hilarious. Especially since everything is usually so damn obvious to you.

Chapter 12: Desserts Spelled Backwards Is Stressed. And Vice Versa.

Red has always admired Black because she can go for a run or exercise with weights as a mental break from her day, not to mention the physical benefits derived from her workout routine. She's always envied people that exercise on a regular basis as she thought they obviously have more spare time than she did. Then, when she was in the midst of her "crisis", Black helped her realize that it might be that other people just prioritized exercise higher than she did.

P.S. – For Red, making exercise a priority still presented a challenge even though she knows all of its benefits. (How could she forget with Black's dedication to exercise serving as a constant reminder?) Ironically, the pandemic made Red look to exercise as a possible way to help reduce her stress. And it worked! So now her daily walks are a top priority. (Maybe we should make "positive changes due to the pandemic" a future post?!)


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Quick question. I was wondering if, and I repeat the word IF, I wanted to start exercising, how would I go about it?


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Hello. Hello. Who is this? You must have the wrong number.
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Chapter 9: I'm Too Busy To Make A List Of All The Things On My "To Do" List

When Red's "crisis" began she went from her perfect world to one filled with chaos, and didn't know where to start. At the time, Black explained she needed to focus on only the most important things so Red's "pretty lists" had been ignored. As was most of the paper that had managed to pile up on her desk (and soon overflowed into piles on the floor).

P.S. – Red once thought that after she had "mastered" how to organize her paper it would mean the end of her paper mountains. But that was wishful thinking. Even years later, there are times when her paper seems to quickly grow from a manageable stack to overwhelming her desk, and sometimes even the floor. And if she mentions it to Black, usually receives a sarcastic comment suggesting she re-read the excerpt below.


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If one big list isn't the answer, what is? And where do I start? And what about everything that's lost somewhere in these mountains of paper? There's no way I can go through all these piles and organize everything into lists. It would take forever!


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Chill! Those mountains are causing you stress due to their mere presence. Those piles of paper represent unmade decisions and incomplete tasks. And as they grow, so does your stress level.


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No kidding!
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Introduction

If you want to understand Red's character, you can read the introduction of our book where she uses a lot of blah-blah-blah to describe herself and Black. On the other hand, Black, in typical fashion, cut to the chase and provided the book designer with a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

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