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Numbers vs. words

March 4, 2010

For the last four years now Principe and I have been writing down our expenses. It started out as a way to save money for our trip to Thailand in 2006 but soon grew into this ginormous monster of an Excel spread sheet. Principe is a numbers expert and addict. When he studied his masters in the United States he discovered that Bill Gates must share this same addiction and passion for these little things that I usually just attached to a price tag or to toddler flashcards, but which are indeed something so much more than that. You may not know it but numbers are interesting. They can tell a story, straight and true without any error except for human error. Words are something that, since they come from humans, can tell a story but you are always left wondering if it is true. Not so with numbers, Principe will tell you, and much less with his beloved program buddy, Excel, because excel rules out human error by going bonkers when there is one. It spits out a bunch of nonsense, which is really just computer swear words smeared across the screen telling you that you are one dumb blonde who should really just stick to the words. That is why I don’t use Excel any more. It has been so rude to me whenever I have tried that I just don’t care to try and reconcile. That and Principe gets annoyed at how slow I go on it that he ends up taking the computer away and doing it himself. Fine by me. I don’t need some computer program telling me I am inapt. I have that little voice inside my head doing it too often to need a mindless, heartless robot to add to it.

But aside from my dislike of a program that every engineer and economist love to the point that they would bend over and kiss Bill Gate’s feet in their gratefulness, as I said before, we write down our expenses. And it is all on Excel. There is a LARGE folder full of graphs, comparisons, inputs and outputs, slides, etc that all interact with each other dated from the moment we got married. Principe thought it was unfair to keep the pages he filled from before we were married. Those are stored away somewhere else.

While it is interesting at times to see the ways in which are lives have changed (you can see exactly where Queenie was born as all of a sudden the category salir (going out) drop straight down. It doesn’t curve it plummets. Funny. And if you ever doubted that moving is expensive all you have to do is look at Principe’s many graphs. Every time we moved house (or country) we end up spending a small fortune.

But these little boxes with their little formulas that automatically calculate and enhance Principe’s graphs and other columns wouldn’t be able to do a thing if it weren’t for one annoying little review every night before we go to bed that starts in the form of a question: “How much did you spend today?”

Every day I must tell Principe how much I spend and what category it needs to be filed into. He doesn’t harp on me about any of my spending at all and rarely makes a comment, but I still don’t like it. I would rather spend 50Euro on scrapbooking supplies without really having to tell him about it like most wives and just wave my hand around if he dares to actually ask what I spent. Instead I have to tell him.

I sound like a 1950’s wife, don’t I? Don’t feel too sorry for me. A few months back Principe asked if all of this bothered me enough for me to want to stop. I told him that I hope one day we can stop, and when he face fell ashen, I quickly added, “but I know that you enjoy it immensely and so would never actually ask you to stop. It doesn’t bother me that much. Not as much in comparison to the joy that you get out of it.” And his face quickly became brighter. And then he asked me if I was ready for the monthly review, his favorite time of month. !

And really, it is just so ingrained in my routine now that I guess I don’t really mind. What I do mind is that it seems to take precedence over my words. For some reason it always works out that Principe wants to “just take a look” at “how we’re doing with money” just as I am cozying up to writing either a post or working on a story. Of course it is no coincidence that many times we are in bed or it is late at night as neither of us has the time to do these things while Queenie is awake. But after eight years of being together Principe still doesn’t understand that words are not like numbers in that you can leave them, come back and still have the same ones come flowing out. One small break in typing breaks up the whole idea or paragraph. In other words, the train of thought gets on another track. Take this post for example. I was going to write about how extremely expensive eggs are here in France. I mean, crazy expensive. To the point that you start thinking that French chickens are probably having a better life than you, sleeping on silk cushions or something in order to produce such expensive eggs. What else could possibly explain that they are DOUBLE the price than in Spain? Eggs and beef. Apparently those are the farmers to be here in France as they must be making a killing compared to those same farmers in all other countries.

See what I mean about words and numbers and getting on different tracks? Ah, oh well. It’s late and Queenie will probably be waking up at some ungodly hour because she barely ate any dinner.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 11:27 am

    I admire you for not minding him asking you to account for what you’ve spent. I feel guilty for bring a 4 euro magazine sometimes! But that probably stems from a time when we didn’t have any money to spare. I keep meaning to keep track of what I spend but don’t really do it. It makes me grumpy! Also, I think numbers can lie. They do. I could say that the number of readers of my blog jumped by 25% when really only 5 new people subscribed and it went up to 25 readers.. See what I mean?

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 5, 2010 1:24 pm

      OH! Don’t tell Principe that! Numbers are his friends who never tell a fib! I am looking forward to the day when we can just stop, but I have to admit that it is a good thing to do as it shows where we can do better or where we are getting out of control. As long as we have little kids and I’m not working outside the house, I think it will continue. Blech!

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