Le Stratégie

Mar 12, 09 Le Stratégie
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It was a beautiful night for a leisurely walk last Friday. After having coffee with my date at a community cafe of eccentric decor, we decided to browse the boutiques and various restaurants in a nearby urban retail district. Even if that decision was more so prompted by the emergence of a band and a certain band member’s adoration for his banjo than it was the desire to enjoy the well-lit storefront scenery and night air, we learned a lot about each other during our wander. Well, as much as you can learn about someone while on a first date.

As sparkly as the diamonds were in the windows and as much as I admired the cut of a dress or two in one of the many boutiques, artwork seemed to be the only thing that halted my stride. At that moment, we were both whisked away to another place. My date was reminded of a time that he’d spent in Europe and proceeded to take me there with his words. I admitted my jealousy as it is my desire to tour the continent someday. He then nudged me and said, “Oh, you can go…it’s not that expensive.” And as endearing as his “you can do it” attitude was, it didn’t shake my earth. If it were just about affordability, I could go tomorrow. This is about strategy.

Do you have one?

Unfortunately, if I had done everything strategically in life, I might have toured Europe twice by now. But it’s rather counterproductive to stare through the rear view mirror, wondering what could’ve been. At some point, you have to decide to wipe the slate clean of past mistakes and start again at ground zero, wiser and more disciplined.

Currently, I have a little over three months worth of expenses stashed away in an online-only bank account, my emergency fund. However, considering the lengthy stretches of unemployment these days, it seems rather insufficient. My goal is to reach a minimum of six months of expenses and with the help of my three partners, automatic draft, tax refund, and an aggressive savings plan, I hope to check this off of my list by mid-2010.

One advantage that I have at my online-only bank is that I can open several accounts and apply them to different goals. Problems that I’ve had with managing money in the past have arisen from unlimited access to my one savings account. If I needed a new transmission, wanted an expensive pair of shoes (sneakers, in my case), or desired a quick vacay, that one account was exhausted by necessities and luxuries alike. Now, I keep them separate. Just as you would separate your business accounts from your personal accounts, I look at each goal as a new business venture. In other words, I need to make it my business to reach those goals…not by any means necessary, but by the necessary means.

Once my emergency fund reaches its minimum, then I will pour more money into my “travel account”. Since my move to VA, I’ve averaged one trip back home to New Orleans per year. I would like to increase that to at least two and add one major vacation; hence, the conception of the fund. So someday, I’ll get to Europe, but my memories will only be stirred by pictures and souvenirs…not debt. With that said, the only question that my date should’ve had in his mind was whether or not, he would accompany me. As nice a man as he was, I somehow doubt it.

I believe the saying is, “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We’re witnessing system failures everyday because greed superseded need. Observe. Learn. Modify future decisions. I am well aware that “delayed gratification” is one of the more despised phrases in the English language, possibly a close second to “live within your means”, but you can’t ignore the benefits. If necessary, surround your office/cubicle with pictures of your goals or tape inspirational phrases to your bathroom mirror to maintain motivation. I challenge you to not focus on this economic setback, but to envision your comeback. Of course, this will require a strategy. So again I ask…

Do you have one?


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