Money

I just loaded three months’ of receipts into Quicken, and it told me we’d spent $173,000.

I was upset, I was mortified, but I wasn’t surprised.

I was also wrong. Turned out I’d seriously screwed something up and the actual figure was under $100,000, but that’s not the point. The point is that when I saw the first figure, I never thought to myself, “that can’t be right.” I just accepted it.

I didn’t use to be that way. When Dawn and I bought our house in Los Angeles, my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t sign the check for the down payment. When I found an expensive pair of binoculars I wanted on sale on the Internet, I still couldn’t bring myself to order them. (I tricked Dawn into doing it.) And when I decided to buy a laptop, I went on eBay and got a three-year-old system that weighs 20 pounds. (I’m using it right now and I have no feeling in my legs.)

But everything is relative, and when I see checks being written for $50,000 (thankfully I’m not writing them), I think, why am I denying myself? So last month I bought a new computer and gave my six-year-old system to my neighbor. Last week I bought a crystal globe that I thought was pretty. And yesterday I went and saw a show that I’d never heard of.

But you know what? It took me a month to decide on the best value components for the PC. I went to the store three times before I bought the crystal globe (which was on sale for $20). And I got a 15% discount on the show tickets.

So it’s still me, and I’ll always be careful with money. Which creates a paradox, because I would never stay at my own B&B.

It doesn’t matter that the room has a fireplace and a whirlpool bath and a kitchen and it’s a private cottage with a view of the creek and it’s almost 250 years old and there’s 120 acres and wolves and it’s on the National Register and I’m supporting something worthwhile — $200/night is just too much. I’d balk at $100/night.

That’s not to say I’m going to lower the price. There’s a lot of people out there with much healthier attitudes towards money than me who probably think it’s a bargain. Plus I have a major restoration to pay for, and I really would like to rebuild my retirement fund. So no, the price won’t change, but there’s a lot of pressure on me to make sure all of our guests feel they get a good value. And that scares me.

I’ve never cooked breakfast for twelve people. When I make a bed, it looks pre-slept in. My idea of cleaning up is to put everything in the sink and pray for divine intervention. These are not the skills of a great innkeeper.

But I do have two things going for me: pride and laziness. Pride is what makes me offer tours when I’m in town, which makes me open the doors and invite people in, which makes me advertise so more people come. Laziness is what makes me automate everything, keeping it simple so it all flows like clockwork. It’s already hard work; I don’t need to make it harder.

So armed with those “virtues,” I know that I will make this work. And I know that soon those $50,000 checks will stop, and we’ll crawl our way out of the red.

And maybe, just maybe, someday Dawn and I will take a vacation and I’ll spend $200/night to stay someplace really nice.

Maybe.