February 2017 Money Diary: Priorities


If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.
— Jim Collins

Ivan here. 

February was a short month and our spending reflected this. We also made a conscious effort to keep expenditures down due to the family setback last month as well as our plan next month to donate our first $250 of the quarter to our favorite charity. 

Slipping Through the Cracks

I want to talk about priorities. On weekday mornings, Jennie and I head over to the neighborhood donut shop for coffee and croissants. The place is run by a Cambodian husband and wife. Back in the day, the shop catered primarily to a Latino clientele, those on their way to build, grow, or serve things for the privileged classes in Los Angeles. Hence, the coffee was always strong, the donuts always fresh, and the prices cheap. Nothing has changed. 

Each morning over coffee, I write my three priorities of the day down in a pocket-sized planner, from most to least important. Then I tell Jennie what I’m gonna do and ask her what she’s gonna do. We talk. 

Without fail, I’ll always get through the first item on my list.  On a good day, I’ll get through two out of three. Three out of three is rare and a cause for celebration. 

The next day, I push the leftovers from the previous day to the top of my list. 

I’ve only recently refined this system and it seems to be working so far, though you can’t be too careful. Priorities are a terrible thing to lose.

One thing that got lost in the shuffle this month was volunteer work. Back in early January, Jennie and I applied to volunteer at the International Rescue Committee. This was before the travel ban and was largely influenced by my own immigration experience. By early February, we were told that they were so swamped with volunteers they simply couldn’t take on any more.

So we left it at that and never followed up since. 



The worst thing isn’t not beginning at all. The worst thing is beginning and quitting at the first sign of resistance, because not only are you in the same place you were before, you’ve also wasted your time by starting and not following through. 

This upsets me. 

I can’t speak for Jennie but here’s what I’m committed to doing next month: 

  • Reach out to five organizations I’d be interested in working with
  • Attend at least two community events/meetups in LA
  • Attend at least one information session for volunteers

I’ll report back in a month and we’ll see just how full of shit I am.