Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pick a number, any number.

I would like to share with you a magic trick that I came up with. It will take something that you do every day, and turn it into something, well, “magical”.

Our neighbor is in the Boy Scouts and he was selling popcorn to raise money for his pack.  The total came to $30.  Instead of writing a check for $30 I wrote it for $33.  PS: I am convinced that the kid who lives next door will become President of the United States one day (fodder for a future blog….).

I gave a presentation to college students the other day, regarding their futures and careers in business. Afterwards, some of us went out for pizza. When the bill came, I added $0.33 to the end to make sure that the bill had a “3” in it.

Whenever I go out to dinner with friends and family, I pay. They know not to fight for the check.  And, when we go out we almost always have a great time (even when the food turns out to be less than great).  I always make it a point to “round up” the tip so that the bill ends in a 3, or at least has some form of “3” in it.

Every year at Christmas and Easter we give a little something extra to our Church. I make it a point to write a check for $333 (and not $300).  Same goes for the local soup kitchen; there is a “3” in the check guaranteed.

What is going on here, besides the fact that I might have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? 

Online Banking is a part of our lives, and it is not going away anytime soon.  So why not make those online statements more useful?

Every day we have the opportunity to do things – things that will make a difference.  And, every day (just about every day) we spend money.  Sometimes the money is on something very simple like buying gas, or paying a toll to cross a bridge.  But sometimes when we spend money it is connected to “a moment” in our lives.  A perfectly documented and permanently archived online moment in our lives.

That kid in the Boy Scouts next door is going to be someone great one day, I can just tell.  I will see the $33 on my bank statement and for a minute I will think of him (and other kids like him).  Seeing $30 would not ring any bells or make me to pause, but seeing $33 on my computer screen will make me stop and think - and also remember my own two sons who were once in the Scouts.

When I see the $333 in our bank statement, it is a trigger.  I will remember that I live in a country that allows me to worship the way I want, when and where I want, and to believe what I choose to believe, and to have the religious freedoms to financially support my beliefs.

The holidays are almost here, and that means that my two sons will soon be home from college.  This will also mean that my debit card will be getting a work out, usually from around mid-November through sometime after the first of the New Year.  This year, the three Capone boys will be going to the mall on “Black Friday”. Which will mean getting up at 4am, standing in lines with other crazy people, and getting ridiculous discounts on many things. My sons and their college friends (and my debit card) went to Black Friday last year without me, and they had a blast.  This year, I will not miss out on the fun.  And this year, there will be some receipts ending in $0.33 to be sure.

Mobile banking, eWallets from PayPal and Google, and various forms of electronic statements are the future of banking; it will only get even more automated and ingrained into our lives.  And, all of this ecommerce technology creates an archived “electronic diary” whether we realized it or not.  Electronic parking receipts, restaurant receipts, receipts for holiday purchases, medical bills, they are all a bunch of “digital breadcrumbs” and journal entries into the diary of our lives.  My little trick of embedding my favorite number into these electronic entries becomes a visual trigger for my brain and an easy way for me to remember the important moments of my life.  When I see the online receipts from Walgreens each month, it reminds me that it is a true miracle that I am still alive, as I beat “the widow maker” last year.  It is also a safe bet that I will be adding $0.33 to end of the receipts when I pick up my PLAVIX® for quite some time.

My favorite number is 3.  I think that is because I have a wonderful wife and two great sons and the three of them make my life worth living.  Maybe it is because I am Catholic and it makes me think about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity which defines God as three divine persons.  Or maybe it is because my wife makes it public knowledge that she has to ask me three times to do just about anything. 

We all have magic numbers in our own lives; memory trigger numbers worthy of embedding into our archived digital breadcrumbs and electronic fingerprints. 

Why not put your own magic number to work for you?  Three pennies for your thoughts on this blog…

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