Rigorous Honesty

Over the past month, we have been looking closely at our business and personal expenses. Thanks to Beth and her coursework with the “Dow Janes,” we are becoming more conscious of our spending, questioning every line item. This process requires rigorous honesty – something I’ve been avoiding my whole adult life.

In the past, I’ve tried budgeting and a twelve-step group called Debtors Annonymous. I’ve sought the help of therapists, radio personalities and books. I even wrote a tell-all song called, “Shopping Spree.”

The sum total of this work and my wife’s hawkish questions about every purchase led to something that I would call “fear budgeting.” I spent less because I was afraid to incur the wrath of my partner and wife. In truth, I would have bought a motorcycle or a bigger trailer or whatever else I wanted had she not been watching over me. It’s not something I like to admit – but I have been a little bit sick for a long time.

Until now, I was not ready to make the necessary changes using rigorous honesty. It was easier and more pleasurable, I reasoned, to stay unconscious and live as I’ve always lived – paycheck to paycheck.

“I’ve done alright,” I reasoned. “I raised two kids on an artist’s salary, for goodness sake!” Wow, was I good at rationalizing!

So, what’s changed? Well, let’s look at what happened from when I started this blog in December of 2021 to the present.

The Adventure was to be a grand RV trip, yes, but it began with selling our home and just about everything in it. With the pandemic, we were no longer able to kid ourselves. We could not afford to stay in a 2000 sq.ft. home in Westchester and be responsible about finances. The ship we always hoped would come in was far out in the Atlantic somewhere. Or it was at the bottom of the ocean!

So, we did something really brave. We started questioning everything – where we lived and how we lived and who we wanted to hang out with along the way. We reconnected to nature, our emotional selves and limited our living space to a 22′ x 7′ trailer, a couple of vehicles and a 12′ x 15′ storage container. We worked on Beth & Scott, the relationship that mattered most, and held one another when the path ahead seemed dark or caused us anxiety. We talked about it every day and I wrote about it. A lot.

On September 1, the trailer landed here in Youngsville, NY – a town that reminded us of all of our favorite places: small, unpretentious and close to nature. The time was right to see if we could apply what we learned on the road to the semi-sedentary lifestyle of householders.

And that’s how we’ve arrived at looking at our finances. And do you know what? I”m not scared of making changes, anymore. Sure, I feel a momentary catch in my throat when I think of dropping this or that business expense because I really thought that they would each help us make more money. But they have not. And I can look at them straight in the eye, now. Like a great filmmaker, I’m recognizing that the editing room is where the best film is made.

Dave Ramsey has a quote. “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else.” Whatever you think of Dave’s programs, he got me and millions of others in the solar plexus with those few words. I have been living the life of the False Self, accumulating stuff, and spending my future savings in pursuit of enjoyment today. I was drunk and out of control at my worst (even though I was doing what millions of others do) and sure that I would never be able to change. Well, the heck with that.

If I can write a song, then I can right my life – one note and one day at a time.

What comes up for you as you read my story? Are you ready for rigorous honesty in your life?

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