Berlin and What Does Your Money House Look Like?

August 7, 2019

Earlier this year I went to Germany and Ireland with my grandma and aunt. It truly was the trip of a lifetime and a testament to how much fun stuff a person can do with very little sleep. Please remind me to take melatonin next time. Anyway, in one of our days in Berlin, we ended up in a very non-touristy portion of East Berlin. And we saw this gem of a, uh, house.

If someone planned the final product from the beginning, I think they are far more creative than I am. It appears to have been totally pieced together, over multiple years and eras. No intention, no real foundation. Colorful, check. Meets the basic criteria to qualify as shelter ((4 walls and a roof), check. Has it adjusted for the tree that ended up being in the way? Oh yeah baby. Intentional and structurally sound? No way, Jose! 

And yet, this is the equivalent of what many people do with their financial lives. It can look something like the following:

  • spend money
  • get money
  • save money
  • spend more money
  • pull money out of savings because... oops, forgot about the unexpected expense of Christmas and vacation and car registration
  • get more money
  • spend money
  • put new tires on the credit card because who really plans for emergencies like that? 

In a financial sense, they are doing the equivalent of adding on rough rooms, taking them down and then rebuilding, slapping on some tar paper, decorating with spray paint. Can you relate? 

I totally can. I spent a glorious decade-plus in this territory and know from lots of first-hand experience that, while there is some adrenaline that comes along with it, it weighs heavily to be stuck on this scraping-by rollercoaster. A person can live this way for a long time and not ever get their money license taken away, but they certainly won’t get the same result as the person planning their money and life on-paper (yes, YNAB very much counts as “on-paper”) and then spending according to that plan.

If you’ve gotten sloppy about your budget, or if you haven’t started one, it’s never too late to get (back) on track. If you’re doing a whole bunch of money management in your head, I encourage you big time to get a tool like YNAB (or how about you just get onboard YNAB - it’s the best:)) so you can get to planning your money and life. 

So do it! Start over. Start for the first time. Get back in the saddle and let me know if I can help. No more dilapidated shack living for you! You’ve got big things to do in life, and if that includes a vacation to Berlin, I will totally give you the address to this tar-paper palace.