Moving the sock is simple but powerful. It can set you up for future success and help you avoid tragedy.
Cassie and I throw around the phrase “just move the sock” probably every other week, if not more. Sometimes we’re telling each other and sometimes we’re just telling ourselves.
At this point, it’s a central tenet of our household philosophy that things tend to go better when we “just move the sock.”
Let me explain.
“Just move the sock” isn’t actually about a sock…but it did start with a sock.
The Incident of the Sock and the Vacuum
One day, early on in our relationship, Cassie was telling me about how she had been vacuuming her house when she noticed a sock in the middle of the floor. Rather than stopping to pick it up off the floor, she thought she’d just vacuum around it, nudging it over little by little with the vacuum.
Except she didn’t.
She ended up vacuuming up the sock and it got stuck in the one part of the vacuum she couldn’t easily access. Not moving the sock resulted in her having to spend the following two hours performing surgery on her vacuum to retrieve the sock.
During those two hours, she tried to get at the sock from every angle. That didn’t work, so then the surgery started. She sliced open the tubing and spent most of the time trying to pull the sock out with scissors. Once she got it out, she had to glue the tubing back up.
The vacuum never did quite work the same again *sad face*.
When she finished her story, I unsympathetically said, “sounds like you shoulda moved the sock.”
Since then “the sock” has come to symbolize the small tasks and to-do items that we avoid — even when doing them requires little effort and would likely make our lives a lot easier and less stressful. You know, like that one phone call you’ve said you’d make every day for the past two months but haven’t? That’s “the sock.”
Here are some recent socks that we’ve encountered:
- Calling Wayfair to ask them to send one single bolt that was missing from a piece of furniture we bought
- Unloading the dishwasher (and reloading it with the dirty dishes)
- Scanning paperwork to send to the life insurance company
The Incident of the Sock and the Vacuum (yes, it’s immortalized in title case now) was such a clear example of how we so often give ourselves massive headaches just because we were too lazy or avoidant to do a small, simple task. The consequences of not moving the sock were so immediate and unnecessary in that situation that it provided a clear and long-lasting lesson.
While Cassie now (almost) always picks up the sock when vacuuming, we’ve also carried that lesson with us to into other realms of our life, with pretty good results.
I’m telling you about it today because there are plenty of “socks” in the personal finance world that could really help you out in the long run and decrease future stress. They are things with a good payoff that are quick and relatively simple things to do, but are also easy to avoid or push off for later.
Things like setting up the 401k with a match that your employer offers, setting up auto-payment on your credit cards, canceling that lingering subscription you don’t use anymore, getting a few new quotes for your car insurance because you know you’re overpaying, returning that thing you bought that you didn’t actually need/want, opening a high-interest savings account, and so many more of those things that tend to live on our to-do lists in perpetuity despite that fact that doing them would give us a pretty immediate payoff.
So, I challenge you to pick something that you’ve been avoiding (that realistically won’t take you longer than 15 minutes) and do it. Move the damn sock. I promise you’ll feel better for it, and that small win might just carry over into motivation to move another, maybe even a bigger, sock tomorrow.