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Reflections in a Financial Mirror

A post to myself, for myself... 'cause I hardly ever get around to posting anymore... or reflecting.
Cat is meowing in other room, will rescue.   Ok, cat rescued.  Wife is in bed, reading book.. love her, she's an awesome partner.

As I sit here at the computer, I see around me:  paper towels, half-eaten candy corn, a pull-up bar, an electrical tester, and a winter jacket.

What would I say of my life right now to the person I was before?  to the person I'm going to be?   I'd say - Its fucking awesome.  I love it.  

Wife and I have had to do some real soul searching around what's important - due to financial constraints.  We looked at getting rid of the relatively new car... and pretty much decided, no, we're going to keep it, and we'll hunker down with expenses.   This means stuff like, cancelling the YMCA (switching perhaps to Fitness19 instead, which has a lower monthly rate), cancelling cable (leaving only the internet) (can use streaming over the web for most shows), and continuing to live on cash.

The amazing thing about my wife is, once she came out of a mild depression, and we really took a look at things, she was 100% ready to make some hard decisions - deal with it head on. I love her for that. I also love that we were able to communicate, pray, and live true to our values. Walk the walk that we keep thinking we talk.

Living on cash - I don't know how my wife splits up her part of the cash - she ends up covering for household supplies, groceries, and feeding the kid - which is amazing - but for me, it goes something like this:

  • $20 money to spend over the weekend - usually goes to a hotdog, a pop, stuff like that at various soccer games etc.
  • $20 money to spend at work - $2 for a coffee if I don't bring my own, $2 at Wendy's for lunch if I don't bring my own (Go Dollar Menu!)
    • Usually I make coffee at home, take it in to work. I have one of those insulated mugs that clips on to my bag.. and the sucker stays hot for a long time. I've measured a drop from 180 to 140 degrees over 4 hours, if left undisturbed.. which is very drinkable.
    • I have instant oatmeal, which I can make at work. I have to pay 11 cents if I don't use my own mug.
    • And peanut rolls, incase I need some protein hunger reduction.
    • Lunch might be frozen burritos, leftover meals, PB&J sandwiches.. it varies. If I don't bring one in, its off to Wendy's I go
    • I don't really miss going out with the guys. I'd rather get in, work, get out early, and go home.

  • $20 for eating out with friends during the week - my wednesday morning and friday night meals with friends.
  • $20 for Kenpo. I save up $40 every two weeks for my class. Although, this last time that I went, I helped teach a class instead, so I got my training in for free.
  • $20 for Groceries. I usually pick up milk, cereal, and whatever ingredients for whatever meal I'm cooking for the family, seperately from my wife's trip.
  • $20 just because. This $20 is the difference between feeling poor and rich, for me. Last week, I still had $20 leftover, so I didn't get out extra.

Having now removed the debit card from my wallet.. and using a envelope system.. i'm seriously trying to get rid of my wallet entirely. It serves no purpose, really, other than holding various things that I don't usually use. We're looking at using an old planner that I once used, and punching holes in envelopes, to make me my new "wallet".

Household demolition - we were going to do some remodeling in the family room, but the kind of remodeling we really want to do, would involve hiring an electrician. So.. scratch that! plan change! Nevertheless, I learned how to take down an interior wall.. man, it was messy, drywall dust going everywhere, though the kid had fun knocking the crap out of the wall with... golf clubs! Fun. I learned that I had to find the edges of the drywall, pry it out from there, to be truly successful. Then, i learned the magic that a reciprocating saw can do with nails, and now the wall has come down, and all that is left is lumber which I am de-nailing.. might save, might burn.

Next up will be wallpaper and linoleum removal. Swoot! We're going to move some functions around - move the computers downstairs to be near the family room (we're on them all the time), move the guest bed back upstairs, etc. We would like the house to be in good enough shape to invite other grownups over. Really. And hey guess what! We're going to reuse my projector as the "big TV", not going to buy a big TV seperate. It does psuedo 720p (1024x768), it'll do.

We're not going to buy a mac. Instead, we'll transfer Molly from her failing, old, not-ours (belongs to her work) computer, to the big, 2-year-old XPC that I bought for work purposes when I first moved to Louisville.. moving Quinn to his own Tigerdirect special (to be built for christmas) - and I'm off the big computer as well, I'm mostly using the laptop which I resurrected by cleaning out the heat sink. Its slow, but it works - Vuze, iTunes, Firefox is all I need. For the big stuff, video editing and such, we'll just have the one big computer that Molly mostly uses.

Vehicles I put together a spreadsheet with total costs of ownership with various options - one of them is keeping the current Honda Pilot, then there were several where we returned the Pilot and got something less expensive. And there was the one where we paid a lump sum on the loan to pay it down. Looks like we'll go with the last option - pay down the loan, so that our payoff is comparable with what we could sell the Pilot for. Putting in $5000 now, nets us like $4200 in interest which we don't have to pay, PLUS, we're then in a place where we can sell the car back to CarMax and they'd cut us a check. And we'll tighten our buckles, live on less, get used to it..

One of the options we had was to "creatively finance" the negative equity over into a new car loan. Feh, made my stomach hurt. I'd rather be clean and honest.

We considered going down to just one car, but that seriously would not work in so many situations. Molly needs to be mobile to respond to the needs of her kid, and there are times when I would have the car, and.. its just doable, the pain is not worth it. So, decided, 2 cars, although I have hopes that might be 1 car + 1 scooter in the future.

We are both kind of excited. With this kind of discipline, when the financial pressure eases, sure would be nice to conver that into a savings plan, so we can *really* live our dreams. Dreams of simple living, travel, good food. Isn't it wierd, how true freedom comes through discipline and doing the right things first?

Dogs My wife has been taking the dogs for a walk every morning. About a mile or two, every time.. for her, the dogs are the beneficiaries. Its a beautiful pack that she leads.. the dogs' temperaments are definitely improving, thank you Ceasar Milan. Today Phoenix was being a crazy barkass at the lawncare folks, and I calm gentle assertive asked her into the bathroom, and she went just fine.

Church I spent some time away from Unity, and.. not good. My wife and I go to a Methodist (contemporary) service in the morning, and now for the 2nd time in a row, i'm going to go to my Unity service after, where I have my bettergood God experience. Its a lot about community, and its also (for me) about spirituality, which is the fuel of my wellbeing.

Work Eh, it goes. I love the new office/cubicle I got put in, its quiet, I'm left alone. I'm creative and productive, and remarkably low levels of adrenaline lately, which is challenging. I need to meditate more so I can focus better there.. continuing to learn good stuff. I used a Bridge pattern in my last project, and might get to write my first ever really useful BO middle layer object for something in my next design.. i know *what* to do, but actually doing it is a different matter.

So yeah, in summary - life is very full, and very honest right now. Looking forward to the week. One of these days I'll find that cable so I can offload video from the phone.


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