Thursday, December 1, 2016

Amber vs. Money

In an effort to return to blogging more regularly, I'm trying really hard to get away from the whole idea that every post I write has to be a meaningful, prolonged story. Don't get me wrong, I have some pretty amazing stories to tell. And I want to. And I plan to. But right now, I really just need to focus on resurrecting my habit of writing regularly. It's so good for me. So, I'm going to start this and work on it when I can and see where it goes.

I'm currently on my lunch hour at work. I had two options today: venture out in chilly weather to drive around aimlessly for an hour, wasting gas and potentially spending money I don't need to spend, or staying here at work, hiding in the conference room in hopes no one will need it (read: interrupt me), and writing. If I'm being honest, I really prefer joyriding to sitting at work. The mental break I get from leaving the building and getting out in the sun (or rain, or snow, doesn't matter really) is so good for me. I'm pretty sure I'm more productive in the afternoon when I get outside at lunch.

In the end though, I made what is probably the more grownup decision and stayed in. Dang adulthood getting in the way of my fun! On the upside, work wifi does allow me to watch Netflix while I blog. Currently I'm watching an episode of Friends, which might be why I've been at this for 30 minutes so far and haven't said much? Oops!

The main reason for staying in is that we are working diligently on getting our finances under control. Ever since we moved from our small hometown to the bigger city, it just seems like we have been dealt a lot of crappy financial hands. We lost about $4500 to a slum lord immediately when we moved, which I have never forgiven that guy, or myself, for. After seeing an apartment via pictures, video and FaceTime, and having our friends do a walk-through for us, we signed a lease from 350 miles away.

Three weeks later when we arrived with all our worldly possessions, a two-year-old, and two chihuahuas, we found that the condition of the place had changed. Significantly. It was as if they'd allowed a band of traveling meth heads to live there for 3 weeks. We didn't even feel safe enough to stay one night. We ended up crashing in our new boss's guest room for 3 days until we could find a suitable place to live.

At any rate, I guess we should have known that was a sign of things to come. Not to channel Eeyore here or anything, but seriously, it's felt like one kick in the teeth after another since then, financially that is. A few months later, we found out that one of our two vehicles needed $1500 in unexpected repairs. It was completely reasonable since the truck was 11 years old at the time and has needed virtually no repairs in its life, but still just really inconvenient timing. Not too much later, the kid needed to change schools, and the new one is more expensive.

Two years after we moved, we finally bought a house. It's a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood, but what we thought would be a pretty straightforward and easy transaction turned into a bit of a nightmare and in addition to normal expenses like movers, we also ended up spending an extra several thousand dollars making the place livable. (Related note, I will never EVER own a cat.)

At any rate, a big part of the reason we moved was to get ourselves into a better financial situation, but it feels like we've gone backwards despite the fact that our income is much higher. It's not fair, dangit! But we are working on it. A friend introduced me to a popular financial guru, who I won't name here because I don't want a bunch of people finding my blog from searching for that guy, and I did a bunch of research and then started following his program. It's pretty brilliant and I can see that it works. If not for the several big setbacks, we would be much further ahead in getting rid of our debt and building giant savings and retirement accounts.

I am so hard on myself about this! I know how to make it happen and I'm really trying - we both are - but it's so hard to get traction. We've cut expenses way back, cut out almost all eating out and entertainment budgets, we only make one trip back home per year to visit, we don't go on other trips, haven't replaced the now-14-year-old truck... on and on. I think there's an expression for this - something like "I make too much money to be so broke!" I've looked in to getting another job, but hubby doesn't want me taking on extra stress and he already puts in extra hours at work.

But in those rare moments when I'm able to show myself grace, I step back and remember that truly, it's only been three years since the move and we have had enough unexpected things pop up to easily offset the extra income that we gained by moving here. Maybe more. Of course, there are times when this makes me feel like the move was a mistake, but that's a whole other post.

Sooner or later we have to catch a break, right? All I want is to be out of debt so I can start sleeping better again and be free of these heavy rocks on my shoulders!

Anyone have Ed McMahon's number?