I am always amused by the strategies people use (and the games they play with themselves) to help them manage their money.

I was recently at a flea market and paid for my item with a $5 bill. The husband rolled his eyes and said: “You had to pay with a five, didn’t you?” I learned that the wife’s strategy is to set aside all five-dollar bills from their transactions throughout the year and she uses them to buy Christmas presents.

I know of another family that allocates, in cash, a designated amount for groceries each month. At the end of the month, it feels like there is “nothing to eat”, but because the cash is running low it forces them to be more creative and make something out of the inventory on hand since going to buy more at the store isn’t an option.

When I worked on campus I still did occasional consulting gigs and always kept those earnings in a separate account. My family came to refer to it as “magic dollars” since I used it to splurge on gifts or vacations that were beyond normal operating expenses.

There are many more ways that people use to segregate funds for designated uses. It happens more formally in organizations but keeping some restricted accounts in your personal finances may make it easier to accumulate a windfall you can later spend.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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