Sometimes Numbers are Stupid

Confident Professor at BlackboardI had this amazing teacher for trigonometry, Mr. Pauly, he had these crazy eyebrows and a true passion for mathematics. (This is not him, by the way, but you get the idea.)

While I enjoyed other forms of math, trig escaped me. Gosh, with the tangents I go off on now you’d think I’d mastered the darn class. But no. Where was Khan Academy back then?

Mr. Pauly gave me a love for numbers that I’ll never forget, though. He said something to the effect of, “When the answer is seven, it’s seven. It’s definite, it’s not subject to opinion. It’s not like whether this is purple or blue.” I was, at the time, heavily into art and music; this point was not lost on me.

Fast forward ten years or so. I am happily engaged in my work helping people save for retirement. While most of the 90s enjoyed wonderful stock market returns, there were a few hiccups. During those times, I would tell my clients not to open their account statements. There really was no point. The statement only reported numbers in the past tense; what had already happened. There was nothing they could do about it, and there was nothing to be gained by looking at decreased balances. My clients would only become discouraged. (And, by the time they received their statements, the balances were most likely already back up to where they were before, if not higher.)

A lot about being a financial advisor is hand holding.

My husband likes to check our statements and balances, I do not. But in December of 2008 he was busy with other obligations and the statements piled up on our dining room table as I suspect they do on tables around the world. With the holidays looming and me alternately laughing and crying as I listened to John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together, I decided to file them away which means I had to look at them.

Not good.
But we stayed the course, and I’m really glad we did. I really do enjoy being right.

A couple of months ago, as I was still in the planning stages of my India trip, I went to my credit union to request an increase on my credit limit. They said, “Sure, just provide us with proof of income.” Now, people who are employed and receive a paycheck will wonder why I’m going on about this but anyone who owns a business will find the unique humor in this request.

I’m only a little ashamed to admit I hadn’t added up my earnings for the year until that day. Five minutes before I opened my Excel spread sheet I was a happy woman.

I added up the sums.

While nothing to sneeze or sneer at, the number was not what I had hoped it would be.

I became instantly sad.

At about the same time I was trying to lose a couple of pounds. Nothing too serious, just focused on my eating and exercise rather than being nonchalant. After a couple of weeks, I really felt great and liked the improvements. I stepped on the scale.Woman Stepping onto Scale

I had actually gained weight.
:Heavy sigh:

What the heck?
I know muscle weighs more than fat and all that jazz but come ON!

I had a friend years ago who had this key chain that said, “Why let reality wreck your day?”

Some years ago I read this incredible book Mutant Message Down Under about an American woman who goes on walkabout in Australia with the Aboriginal peoples. (For years I didn’t know it was fiction but that’s a story for another day.) She described that the people didn’t celebrate birthdays because it was merely the change of a number. They celebrated, instead, when someone learned something meaningful, powerful, or beautiful.

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes numbers are stupid, but happiness and the feeling of abundance is glorious. Work towards the numbers because they are important, but nurture the happiness.

Photos from ClipArt

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
This entry was posted in Personal Finance with a twist, Psychology of Money and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sometimes Numbers are Stupid

  1. Margaret A. Tomaka says:

    I can totally relate. Your message makes me smile.

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