Over the past few years, I’ve been “Aaron Proofing” my life. In essence, I have been observing myself in the wild, recognizing my faults, and correcting them as I can. More important than correcting the faults is preventing them. When I find something that I do which effectively sabotages my life, I do everything I can to avoid it. Avoid places I make poor choices, learn about possible good choices for those places that I can’t avoid, organize like a motherfucker, schedule things, and employ helpful life tools.
My best example of where I used to sabotage myself like crazy is bills. I’m not counting the times that I’ve been broke from just being poor, but rather the times I spent too much or became broke from being a dumbass. Wrangling your spending seems to be a difficult task for a lot of people. It really wasn’t for me. It just one month of mostly passive Quicken use to see just where and how I was wasting my money. Maybe I’ll go into more detail later, but it become painfully obvious just how poorly I was managing my money and I started trimming the fat immediately. Also – coupons.
Being a dumbass was a lot harder for me to tackle. After all, I am quite a dumbass. A common bit of dumbassery I performed was not paying bills, and not for lack of money. I wouldn’t pay them because I would forget that I needed to. Yes, I know, this is extremely stupid. How can I be such a piece of shit? It’s because I need reminders. With paper bills, you are at least prompted to handle them. Unfortunately, once prompted, it’s very easy to toss aside and ignore. You come home, grab your mail, walk through the door, and drop your giant stack of bullshit in some forgettable place. Sometime later that night you open your mail and find a bill or two to pay. You could handle it then, but you need a stamp, your checkbook, and maybe an envelope. I don’t have that shit just hanging around my lounging area, so that encourages another spot of procrastination. Eventually, you see the bill one evening and pick it up. You look at the “pay by” date, realize it’s only a few days away and put together the payment. The bill, the check, the envelope, the stamp – everything is filled out, sealed, and ready to go. Then it sits on a table or couch for a day or two because you have to bring it to a drop box (they don’t pick up the mail from my mailbox… not sure why). Before you know it, the bill has gone unpaid and now you have a late charge.
Electronic bills are worse, and possibly stupider-er. Once I’m aware of the bill, it’s really just a minute (if that) of doin’. The problem is a lack of a prompt. No emails, no alerts, nothing. The bill is just there and you have to remember when to pay it. My days all run together, so how the hell am I supposed to know when something is due?
These are problems that have been solved long before my dumbass started having them, and it’s sad that it took me so long to figure them out, but… yeah, I don’t have any good excuses. Here’s how I dealt with my shitty self on bills:
- Turn as many bills to “autopay” as possible (I know that I could set them all up that way through my bank, but I’m not completely comfortable with all of them)
- Put everything that I need to pay paper bills in one place and make that place where I open my mail
- Program calendar alerts for electronic bills on my phone
I find the hardest things to “Me Proof” are usually related to attitude and habit. Like getting home, pouring an adult beverage, and doing nothing productive until I wake up the next morning. Or worse, not giving a fuck when I do but getting really salty at myself the next day for wasting the time. It’s tough to get a hold of, but worth while to work on fixing.