One of my best friends is definitely a planner. This is most clear in how she cooks- she follows recipes exactly, searches her recipe box and cookbooks for new recipes or ideas of things to make with the ingredients she has on hand. When she cooks, she measures out the ingredients and sets the timer to twelve minutes, or whatever the recommended time is. I, on the other hand, am a do-er. I often start cooking dinner by starting one ingredient cooking, and then figuring out what I want the end result to be as I go along. I rarely measure, and am hardly ever able to reproduce the same dish in the same way more than once.
The other day she said to me that she thought that she and her husband were almost too frugal. She feels sometimes that they have a hard time letting go. In the context of the conversation we were having, on financial security, this was an important point. We both feel that financial security is not about how much money you have in the bank, it’s about knowing that you have enough for when you need it, and being able to indulge yourself (in simple pleasures!) without worrying or feeling guilty.
I know that I’m definitely on one end of the scale, and I think that she is on the other. I know that my major problem with money is that I have a hard time restraining myself- it is also the main problem that I have when trying to stick to a diet! I have always had a hard time saying no to spending or buying, and this is independent of how much (or how little) income I’m making. Whereas my friend is better at saving money, both in socking it away for that proverbial rainy day, or paying extra on big loan repayments.
I’ve known that my weakness is in self-control for a while now, and because I know it, I’ve managed to find ways to beat it. The most important thing that I do is automate my bill paying. For example, because my father has a shop, he is able to debit my checking account through my check card. This allows me to reimburse him for the checks he writes for my student loan payments (because I no longer have a US checking account I don’t have an easy way of making my student loan payments). I tell my stepmother to debit a certain amount every month, rounding up the minimum payment. I know that if I were actually writing the check I might be tempted to just pay the minimum.
Likewise, I have automated our savings. Any reimbursement we have for medical expenses gets automatically deposited into our ING savings account. Most of the money that I earn from my blogging or consulting gets paid to me via Paypal, and the only account that I can transfer my PayPal money to is the ING account. Rather than trying to remember to make a deposit or transfer money from one account to another, I know that this money will get tucked away all by itself. I don’t have to plan it, I just set it up once, and now it just gets done.
I don’t think that being a planner is better than being a do-er or vice-verse, I just think that it’s important to know how you work, so that you may cater to your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. And while I certainly recognize the advantages of planning a bit better (and am trying to learn how to do just that) I think that sometimes planning too much makes you forget to just sit back and enjoy.
Are you a planner or a do-er? What do you see as the strengths and weakness of each behavior?