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How to Leave Your (Financial) Comfort Zone


Learn to be proactive, not reactive.

Editor's Note: Minyanville welcomes back Jessie Smith, who is sharing her journey from financial fiasco to fiscal fitness every Tuesday and Thursday in Going for Broke ... and Back.

This morning the alarm went off at 5:10 a.m. I actually got out of bed because of a nagging lesson that I learned years ago, and that was ringing in my ears when the alarm went off.

Lesson Number One: Sometimes you have to do displeasing actions in order to get pleasing results.

Sunday was one of the most beautiful days we have had in November in years. You know how I spent most of it? Driving around from store to store looking for a Mac version of QuickBooks.

I received an email last week from a guy who asked me whether or not I use software to help in my endeavor. My response? "Uh, can you be more specific?"

I could almost see his eyes rolling as I read his response: "Personal Financial Software, Quicken (INTU), MS Money, Mint?"

Oh yeah -- that stuff.

I vaguely remember using "personal finance software" back in the early days when I was OCD about my checkbook being balanced to the penny and when I tracked things like Payroll Deductions and ATM Withdrawals (and I would actually save cash receipts and categorize them according to specific categories). I was a control freak, and went to extremes when recording all of my spending, saving, and earning entries.

After years of pinching pennies, I finally had some disposable income. I was married at the time (to a guy who was Mr. Mom while I was Mrs. Bring-Home-The-Bacon), had a relatively new baby, and we had just moved into our new house.

I enjoyed spending money without having to worry about covering the electric bill if I stocked up on an extra month's worth of diapers. I felt it was time to delegate the task of bookkeeping and accounting to someone who enjoyed it far more than I did. I hired a bookkeeper and delegated these tasks to her.

I never had anyone taking care of my money besides me. It was a scary thought at first, but I was thrilled to have the extra hours I had been spending on accounting to spend on my family or on my business.

I also handed over to her the task of paying all my personal and business bills, which ensured that they were paid correctly, from the correct accounts, and paid on time etc. I spent less and less time being concerned about this area, fully trusting that it was "taken care of" by someone way more qualified than me.

Lesson Number Two: To "delegate" does not mean to "abdicate".

When a person "delegates" something to someone, it means to commit or entrust to another, like an assignment or a task. It also means to assign responsibility or authority. However, there is (or should be) a certain degree of oversight that is retained by the delegator, as the outcome of the delegated tasks still ultimately lies with him/her.

When I hired employees and had income streams coming in from more than one source, the bookkeeper moved all of my accounting over to QuickBooks (about which I knew nothing). I never really questioned what she did. Every month I received a report from her that showed me where I stood financially at the end of the previous month.
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