Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Financial Foe: Planning, or the Lack Thereof

I don't know what I'm going to be doing on Friday evening.

When I was in college, I had a standing Friday-afternoon coffee date with one of my closest friends. We met in the parking lot at four, got into her car, and went to our favorite coffeehouse, where we got coffee drinks and snacks and/or dessert, had a nice, long, leisurely chat for a few hours (it's that kind of coffeehouse), and then each went home and crashed after the long week.

The closest thing I have to that now is a tentative Friday-evenings-are-best-for-me arrangement with a friend from college who's living in the city now. My friends and I don't usually plan in advance, and certainly never at a longer range than a week away. It's a cell phone-based, flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of thing, where a friend and I are having dinner (which we arranged by email that afternoon at work) and she'll call someone or I'll call someone and they'll say, "Oh, I'm at this bar with a couple of friends, come join us," and we go off to meet them.

The thing is, aside from the fact that I often wish I knew what I was doing just for curiosity's sake, not knowing what my plans are makes it really difficult to budget for these kinds of expenses. It makes it difficult to know how much money I'm going to spend on eating and drinking out, on cabs, and even on groceries (how many meals do I need to plan for?). There's a special kind of paralysis induced by lack of planning, and I encounter it often.

Yesterday, to combat this plan-vacuum, I sent out an email to some friends proposing a weekend plan. I got a really enthusiastic response, even from the people who can't come, and so now I have a plan for Saturday. I'll probably spend Friday afternoon with a friend who's in town for the weekend, and Sunday with a school friend who just came back from nearly a year in France (initially, the idea was to have High Tea at the Harlem Tea Room, but it will kind of depend on how far I can make my eating-out budget stretch). The follow-up emails sparked by this initial email has gone a long way toward helping me figure out what my weekends will look like until the end of the month.

So if you have the same problem that I tend to, from this experience I'd certainly say that I advise taking a little initiative. Try organizing an event (mine is just a potluck picnic with board games in Central Park), or even just sending out an email to all the people you'd like to spend time with that says, "Hey, I'd like to plan to spend some time with you--when is a good time for you?" It facilitates planning ahead, and that makes it easier to budget for your plans.


Krystal said...

My friends are like that too - always planning things at the very last minute. I like to know what's happening as far in advance as possible. It makes me feel less stressed out, and you're right, it's a lot easier to budget.

Carolina Event Planning said...

Ran across your blog while searching for event planning info. It's so nice that you take time to visit with friends on such a frequent basis, no matter how you get it done. I think you've inspired me.