An Ostrich is a large, flightless bird native to Africa which many people believe will bury it’s head in the sand when it senses danger. As the story goes, the ostrich thinks that it is completely safe if it cannot see the pending threat. It hopes that when it finally raises it’s head back above the ground, the threat will be gone, and everything would be ok. Not very intelligent.
Yet in the past I’d insist upon doing the exact same thing with my finances. I wouldn’t pay attention to how much I was spending, completely ignoring financial danger.
I almost did it again this weekend.
Our family went on a mid-winter get away last week, and we made a conscious decision to utilize some discretionary funds that normally would have been spread across the first half of February during the trip. As a trade off, we would have to tighten the budgetary screws for the next few weeks. We wanted to have a great time on our trip, and didn’t have any plans for the next few weekends so we decided it was worth it. As this past weekend approached, we skipped our usual Thursday night budgeting discussion.
Truthfully, I avoided it.
Friday morning was the first of the month, which meant I needed to ensure that all the automatic payments went out as they should, and manual payments were performed. What also should have happened is the entering into the checkbook register our end of the month income, and the outgoing payments to determine the actual amount of funds we had available. It really should have been done a few days prior in preparation for that Thursday discussion that never happened.
Instead I just stared at my computer screen.
I didn’t want to see the smaller number that we would have available for the next two week cycle. I didn’t want to be reminded that there wouldn’t be the cushion available if we wanted to buy little extras while grocery shopping. I didn’t want to see the consequences of the decision we had made a week prior.
I wanted to stick my head in the sand, and just hope that everything would be OK.
But everything would NOT be OK. We’ve been down this road before. When I would eventually pull my head out of the ground, I’d most likely find us over budget and need to scramble to figure out how to “make things work” until the next payday.
So I took a deep breath, and reconciled the checking account.
During breakfast, Vonnie and I discussed our plans for the weekend, and she asked about our budget. I stated the numbers, and proposed some ideas for our spending plan. She was a little surprised and asked some questions. We sat down and retraced the spending of the previous weekend leading to where we were at now. We put together our spending plan, and I walked away from breakfast feeling very much relieved.
The funny thing is, that story about ostriches putting their head in the sand isn’t true. They’re actually very smart animals, and flatten their bodies and long necks against the ground when danger approaches as to make themselves less visible. They have keen eyesight and watch the approaching threat intensely until they figure out a plan of action.
Maybe being like an ostrich wouldn’t be so bad after all.