There’s a passage by Tara Westover in her memoir “Educated” that I think is really so apt here: “The skill I was learning was a crucial one, the patience to read things I could not yet understand” (2018, p. 62). When we initially try something not only new, but really outside our intellectual comfort zone, the result is often a lot of confusion, frustration, and seeming spinning of wheels. It all seems incomprehensible. Yet, I have found – both for myself, and with my students, especially as they are starting to learn to budget – that if they persevere, if they push through, and keep at the process, it will finally click for them. It will take a combination of study, action, consultation, and reflection. But if you hang in there and keep at it, the results will come, with outcomes seemingly magical.

This process starts with determining your values, identifying what’s important to you. From there, you need to set some goals. Goals link your values to action and make them reality. Through regular action you build habits, monitor your progress, and make any necessary course corrections through the journey to help you stay on track. The two main levers you wield that can speed up or slow down the process relate to the money that comes in and goes out: your income and outflow, earnings and spending, receipt and distribution. We’ll build in flexibility and a pressure release valve, so that we can plan for real life happening and still keep our ship sailing. After that, with time, the learning curve will flatten, things will become more routine, and hopefully a bit boring – and then you’ll be freed to focus on what brings joy to you, yours, and your community.

This book is a work in progress and we’ll all benefit from your input and collaboration. In the “Leave a Reply” below, please post examples, comments, questions, and needed edits. By posting, you grant permission for inclusion of any content to become part of the book, now or in the future, in whatever form it may take. I’ll give attributions to the extent possible. I know sharing about our financial lives can be sensitive, so if you want to share anonymously, please use the contact form instead and I’ll honor your request.

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