Redefining Progress

by Gerry O'donoghue - Boot Camp Advisor

Redefining Progress

It looked like it was going to be another week without progress or getting Natasha’s expense journal.

My notebook journal idea was not working for Natasha, but she arranged to email/text her spending each day to Sandy at Parenting. I really don’t care how we get the information, as long as we get it, and if this works for her then perfect. I asked Natasha to simply copy me on emails so I at least see what’s going on. After just a few days Natasha is starting to see and understand her spending habits, and how they have been out of control for so long. This is exactly why keeping some kind of spending journal is so important — it’s the first step in evaluating how our spending relates to our goals, and only then can we reach a point where we can eventually make real and long-lasting changes to our behavior and relationship with money. This might be painfully apparent to some readers, but if it’s not apparent to Natasha then we have to get to a point where it is. I hope Natasha keeps the information flowing because it will give me a chance to try to help her.

New issues keep arising — her fridge broke and the landlord has not fixed it (I didn’t realize the landlord owned the fridge, but you learn something new every day) so she has to buy more fast food because she can’t store leftovers. When we spoke yesterday she felt she had to go out and buy a small fridge (yet another expense), but I suggested buying a small cooler and a bag of ice each day to hold her over. She might not take it up, but by communicating it gave her an alternative to consider. That’s all I can ask for – a chance to listen and learn about what she’s dealing with and see if I can throw in my two cents.

Thankfully Natasha has recognized that going to Ghana is not an option, but she still has expenses related to her aunt’s funeral.

These two situations are examples of why an emergency fund is so important. Hopefully we'll get to that point.

Nearly four months into Boot Camp we might actually be able to make some real progress. I’m finding it amazing that, just when I think the process has come to a halt, Natasha pops back up at the last second to revive it. It’s not how I would like this all to go (I would certainly have ended the relationship with a “regular” client long ago), but I am viewing this experience as a way to try to help someone who may not know how to be helped. I might have had grand visions of what that help may have been, but just because it’s not turning out the same doesn’t mean I can’t make some small difference before the end. It has taken me a while to accept this, and this has made me more patient and to hold out for that next move — and not to take it so personally when things are not progressing like I believe they should.