1 Structure, Consistency, Accountability | The Billfold

Structure, Consistency, Accountability

Mike: So, Logan, you mentioned today that you have to figure out a way to survive for the next two weeks without cash. You are cash poor, as we’ve learned from watching Nashville. What’s the plan?

Logan: Yes, cash poor and also asset poor. But I’m not poor in haircare products! For now. I will be after I go to Target to return some of the things I bought. That will be like, $75. And I do have $40 in cash already. So actually I’m going to be okay.

Mike: That’s a good attitude. It’s not the end of the world, right? You still have your health? You also have friends who will make sure that you never go hungry or end up on the street. If you run out of money for food, I can totally feed you. I’ll make you that asparagus lasagna I baked when you first came to visit me.

Logan: Oh god, that asparagus lasagna is so good. I may take you up on that. But yeah. I totally self-created this problem. This is not a big deal—it was a bigger deal this morning actually just because it was so shocking. Having overdraft protection is a big thing though. I know this is “using a credit card,” which is really bad, but it’s only for bills to keep me from getting more fees. As soon as I get paid, I’ll transfer anything that was transfered from my credit card back over.

But it’s still shocking too, my ability to not do math. Also it’s amazing to me that every time I do this I tell myself, THIS IS THE LAST TIME, THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE. And I really mean it! And believe it! What’s that definition of a nutter—a person who does the same thing over and over and expects a different outcome? Ding ding ding.

Mike: As you do. I also owe you $15. So you also have an extra $15.

Logan: You do not owe me $15. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Mike: During Thanksgiving, we went to that diner, and you insisted on treating me, which I was very thankful for! But a young woman with an overdrawn bank account shouldn’t be treating friends to meals. So just pretend that I paid for myself that day.

Logan: I’m pretty sure I owe’d you at least that much! You’re always super generous with me.

Mike: But the thing is, I can afford it! This is a very important difference.

Logan: Well I could afford it when I did it!

Mike: But beyond figuring out what to return to Target, I think the reason why our readers suggested that you set up your bank alerts and apps is to take some action on some preventive measures so that this doesn’t happen again. Baby steps, right? What sort of things will you do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Logan: Yeah I  totally already get bank alerts and emails —and I delete them without reading. I am MASTER SELF-SABOTEUR. I make horrible decisions on a regular basis. I make okay big life decisions (“I need to confront my debt. I need to start paying it down. I need to do my taxes. I need to start paying them down.”), but on the day-to-day decisions, I really screw myself. I have tried to do the cash thing—where I figure out my spending money until the next check and then take that out in cash—but that cash goes fast, always.

This is for sure a larger pattern in my life—screwing myself with tiny decisions each day. I have a punctuality problem. I stay up late reading or watching TV or whatever knowing it will make me miserable in the morning. I want to be fit but I’ll always go on a run or do pushups tomorrow. I want to eat better, but right after I have this donut, promise. I’m always late, on everything.

Mike: Do you think that’s because you lack structure? Perhaps we can work on providing more structure in your life. You stay up late because you don’t have a job where if you don’t show up by 9 a.m. or somesuch, you’ll get fired. You aren’t being held accountable for anything. You aren’t limited by anything, basically, and this has bled into your relationship with money. Maybe we need to start injecting some more structure in your life.

Logan: YeahhhahhHhahahha. Structure. What is structure? I really haven’t had it in quite a long time. That was one of the things I liked most about working in a grocery store, when I was a florist, and then later working in the mall. I had a schedule! And a place to be! I was still late a lot—never enough to get fired, but just enough to be stressed out about it all the time. That’s one of the reasons that I know getting a second  job would be good for me, and also one of the reasons why I keep putting it off. It would be good for me to have a place to be everyday at a certain time OR ELSE, but …. I really like not having to be anywhere at a certain time OR ELSE. And that goes back to “what’s good for me” and “what’s good for me RIGHT NOW.”

Mike: What if instead of me doing the first post of the morning, you would be in charge of it. How would you feel about that?

Logan: I’d feel like UGH. But that’s a good idea.

Mike: I mean, the reason why I do the first few posts is because you’ve got a little hitch in your git-along in the mornings. Maybe we’ll start with you doing the second post of the morning. Baby steps! Structure!

Logan: You know, Mike, my favorite part of these chats is that each time we do them, I’m one step closer to being totally unhireable. “Oh, you are terrible with money AND you don’t learn lessons AND you’re always late AND you don’t even try to pretend otherwise? WE’D LOVE YOU TO JOIN OUR TEAM,” said nobody.


20 Comments / Post A Comment

DickensianCat (#971)

Thank you guys. Thank you so much for being yourselves, warts and all, and not being scary, Turnip colored Suze Orman. Both of you. I adore these chats. Have a great weekend!

Blondsak (#2,299)

I completely second the need for morning-time structure. Right after college graduation, I took an evening job where I never had to be at work before 4:30pm. In the 14 months I worked that job, I: overspent on my budget every month, gained 30 pounds because I quit working out pretty much entirely and also got 2am fast food dinners four nights a week, slept until noon at least every day, got drunk with friends every night I didn’t work, etc. I attribute my lack of control mainly to one issue: I had NO REASON to have to get out of bed in the morning! I was allowed to be a complete arse to myself every night I could because there was no structure to a significant portion of my day. I had zero obligations to attend to before 4:30pm, and it showed.

The moment I got a job that started at 8:30AM, life suddenly got a lot easier (I’m still not a morning person, but after my breakfast I am usually ready to go). In any case, I learned very fast that I need morning obligations to motivate me to treat myself better, and Logan, it sounds like you do too!

One other idea: in the 1 Thing post, it was mentioned you maybe need to start making more income. How about looking for a morning job, say 20 hours a week, 3-4 hours a morning? Like, delivering newspapers, serving coffee, being the ONE person who updates a daily website/blog (Mike covers for you here because he’s nice, but if it was your responsibility solely maybe you would be motivated enough)? You could kill two birds with one stone!

NeenerNeener (#156)

@LO If you have time to eat breakfast before you leave in the morning, I dub thee a Morning Person.

Blondsak (#2,299)

@NeenerNeener I eat it at my desk ;)

themegnapkin (#444)

I would really like Mike’s recipe for asparagus lasagna. Please?

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@themegnapkin Seconded.

annecara (#1,914)

@themegnapkin Thirded.

Two things:
1) Logan: Well I could afford it when I did it!

No, you couldn’t. You could pay for it, but you couldn’t afford it. There’s a huge difference. Basically, you can’t afford ANYTHING right now. Sorry. I really really do feel for you but that’s something you have to internalize.

2) “It would be good for me to have a place to be everyday at a certain time OR ELSE, but …. I really like not having to be anywhere at a certain time OR ELSE.”

You can’t afford this. And I really mean “afford”.

And I too would love Mike’s asparagus lasagna recipe please! In fact, you could make it a fundraiser for Logan: pay $1 and get the recipe. Just make Logan type it up and send all the emails… ?

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Mary-Lynn Bragg@twitter You are wise today, Mary-Lynn Bragg.

ETA: Maybe every day, but I am noticing today!

aetataureate (#1,310)

There’s not a kind way to ask what I want to ask! Let’s just do it.

How much is your work dynamic now the same as it was at the old job where Logan pretty openly took advantage of Mike?

readyornot (#816)

I have a ton of problems with a lack of structure, too, in a position where I am a Ph.D. student while doing research assistant work to pay for the program. Set your own hours! They could be any hours! My best trick-myself-to-do-work thing so far has been to use software that blocks the internet for the first three hours after I get up. No email, no news articles, straight into working. And that’s the only work I get done all day! Kidding. Only kinda. I have no idea what I would do if my job were emailing and surfing the internet, though. That sounds amazing and also I’m pretty sure I would never get anything done.

p.s. and I mean this in all seriousness I had not thought about the implications of Logan’s confessional style real talk chats and posts on her future employment. They’re even braver than I thought they already were!

@readyornot TELL ME WHAT PROGRAM YOU USE (please) i tried this once but it was too easily crackable!

@readyornot Seconding this request for information.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@Logan Sachon I use leechblock for firefox, and put up all the restrictions (ie can’t disable while the block is happening), and put up similar restrictions on the other browsers that I have on my computer (safari I have somehow disabled facebook on forever, and put up some nanny thing on chrome) so I can’t self-sabotage.

fake coffee snob (#2,227)

@Logan Sachon
On a mac, SelfControl is pretty uncrackable. Don’t know of similar windows programs though.

readyornot (#816)

@Logan Sachon @mirror_father_mirror I use a copy of Freedom I have from back when it used to be free. You can crack it by rebooting, but the reason I need the software in the first place is I’m lazy, and rebooting takes effort.

Whit@twitter (#2,413)


dudeascending (#1,921)

Every single one of those posts reinforces my belief that Mike Dang is the Nicest Dude in the World. I want to be friends with you, Mike. Email me, and let’s make this happen.

Logan, fwiw I think you’re on the right track with the ‘Do One Thing’ idea – that’s the kind of plan that does get stuff done. When I worked from home (HARD) I did my best when I managed to check my emails twice a day – once in the morn, once in the arvo.

The thing that really worked for me to get me somewhere in the morning was having a person I was doing that thing with — which for me was going to the gym. Being accountable to another person nearly every day made me get up, because I just couldn’t cancel on them every day.

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