About two years ago, I really got my financial life in order. It all began with the habit of writing out a budget over a cup of coffee. I sat with some music, the coffee, and a pen and pad. I did it on the same day every week, regardless of what was going on. It became a habit. That habit soon turned to ritual and I’ve now reaped the rewards of inching towards the freedom from modern loans and credit into a strictly cash based system. The norm now is credit and “get it now, pay for it later” and it seems to fail our government and most Americans that live paycheck to paycheck, financially speaking.
When I started my budget, it was hard work. I was confused and didn’t realize why I couldn’t figure out where my money was going. It got easier however. As it got easier, I noticed that if I stuck to my budget, I had a lot more money than I realized and could do more with my newfound “raise”. As the weeks passed, I noticed that it came more naturally. The money did what I told it to do, and the result was a more rewarding payday. I expected it, but didn’t rely on it.
The reason I’m even starting this article with a rudimentary microeconomics personal lesson is that because money plays such a large role in our lives, it can be used as an allegory for the current climate of our country. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back could very well be a bunch of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.
Now, I wasn’t born a southerner, but I live in the most democratic place you can find in the South. It’s a hive of Hillary supporters and goes as far as to support a soon-to-be removed governor that tells police to stand down during legal rallies for statues of great leaders. I’ve come to love the South and realize the history and family bonds that exist (or existed) here are crucial to culture, honor, and pride in being a southerner. This applies to the nation as well, as many of the historical events and culture this country comes right out of dear ol’ Dixie.
Something has changed. No one can quite put their finger on when, but when you notice it, you won’t be able to un-see it. Something is draining the “budget” and it’s disguised as a family member meaning to help. If you apply the principals of budgeting, you’ll see what I mean.
There’s 168 hours in a week. Consider that you’re going to give up 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for work. That’s 112 hours that you’re pretty much locked into. I could tell you how to adapt that in another article, but stick with me here. That leaves you 56 hours left for you. 56 hours for your family. Doesn’t sound like a whole bunch, does it? Here’s the painful part of this:
You’re giving up some of that time to football. We’ve all done it. Let’s figure that part out.
Three games a day on Sunday. Spent drinking, eating horrible food, travel, you name it. At one point, I was out from 8 AM to around 11 PM being a complete degenerate because “it was football, man. I’ve had a rough week and I need to unwind with my buddies at BWW or the local dive and root for my team. We gotta win this one because it’s important to the season. I’ll have another pitcher and dozen wings.” The trick is, you think you’re bonding, you think you’re really getting somewhere because this is what we do. We are Americans, right? We love our country, we love our soldiers, and we love the pastimes that make this country what it is. It’s a part of who we are, and by God, we will support those damn (insert multi-billion dollar team) until the day we die. The population has been lulled into a sense of security, so we have to get our kicks somehow, right?
We have shirts and jerseys, toilet seat covers and shower curtains. We have hats of all types, pajamas, sweaters, shotglasses, beer mugs, souvenier mugs full of Pepsi/Coke/whatever soft drink is signed up for a contact this year. That doesn’t even touch the surface of the onslaught this simple game’s brand loyalty has on people. It drives people to violence, it drives people to raise their kids as a “Born and Raised Packers/Steelers/Bears Fan”. Indoctrination from birth.
Don’t believe me?
Take a walk through a grocery store on a Sunday in the thick of football season.
During the playoffs I remember spending a total of $1,200 in airfare and game tickets to catch a game in Minnesota. I had to fight off two drunken fans as I was leaving the stadium. Think about that for a second. If someone handed you $1,200 in cash, what would you do with it?
I think I’ve made my point, financially speaking. Let’s discuss your time again.
Time is a finite resource and what you’ve got to realize is that you need to get busy living. At one point in this country, Sunday was a day of rest. Sunday was for church, family and friends. It was a nice reprieve from the grind of the work week where the folks from the community could catch up and kids ran around, forming lifelong friendships.
That stranger crept in and now we are inundated with ads, fantasy sports (more vicarious living), and a barrage of stimulation all while being in air conditioned comfort with a beer in hand. Forget politics, take race right out of it. This is about you and your family. This is about your community.
It’s going to be painful at first to ditch this habit, but so was my budget. You’re going to want to watch some highlights or check those scores “just because”. Avoid it at all costs. You’ve got better things to do. Work on lifting, learn a skill, start a business, SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Use your time, a finite resource, how you’d like to use it. Don’t let the bread and circuses decide it. It didn’t work out well for Rome.
Consider what you can do with your time on a Sunday if you get an entire day back. You find the time and you’ll be surprised with what you can do with it.
– By Soranus Narcanus