Sunday, February 12, 2012

Small Successes

I love them.  I love the small steps.  I think I like them more than a bunch of big successes because you tend to get wrapped up in those, caught up in the moment of them.  The little ones are the under dogs, the silent heroes.  The little ones give you the motivation to keep going without distracting you from the big picture while still giving you that feeling.

We actually completed our third goal ahead of our second.  Not by much, but Hey..I'll take what I can get, when I can get it.

We paid off a student loan!  Should I say it louder?


I just want to say that I hate those fucking things.  They hang over your head from the minute you graduate, quite possibly until the day you die...if you have a graduate or PhD.  I don't.  My husband doesn't, but we have quite a bit in student loan debt, you would've thought one of us did.  I am glad to say that three of them are fairly low balances.  Well, now two.  We did just pay one off.  Can't forget that.

FINALLY!  One step that will actually make a bigger difference.  No more $100 a month going out for that one..we can apply it to another and get that one paid off early as well.  You wouldn't think $100 a month is a lot.  I'm here to tell you that there were many, many times that $100 could've kept us above water.

I can't even say how happy I am now that we have all of our spending under control and all of our bills up to date..and are even making progress at paying them off. 

Yes, I work harder.  I work a LOT more makes me grumpy sometimes.


I sleep better, I even woke up with a smile on my face the other day.  I honestly don't remember when, or if, that has ever happened before.

I laugh more.  I'm not under this horrible weight that is constantly crawling around on my back and using it's long, spindly fingers to grasp onto my brain and hold tight.  Always there, always biting and growling at me.  Keeping me awake when I should be sleeping, keeping me down when I should be enjoying my family.

The kids don't see it yet but they will.  They will when I'm able to just drop everything this summer and go buy them something just for the hell of it.  I will too.  I'll go get them something frivolous and fun...and reasonably priced, but still fun.  They've helped and sacrificed for this as well. The deserve to see it..and since I don't give my kids access to my bank account, they'll have to settle for something a little more materialistic.  I have a feeling they won't mind.

This small success showed my husband that even though we STILL don't have any money in the bank, it's not because we've blown it and need to find more.  It's because we've made progress and are seeing a difference.  He was having a hard time seeing the results, seeing that things really have changed.

Thank goodness for small successes.  This will have me floating on cloud 9 until we hit the next one.  Soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'll Bite

Lately I've been seeing a lot of things being said about reverse bucket lists.  I'm not even going to explain what they are because I know that all four people that read this blog already know.

I'm going to bite, I'm going to go through my own list. 

Here it goes.

  • I've had three children
  • I still love those three children (no, this is not always a guarantee) and love raising them.
  • I've been married...twice.
  • I've been divorced once.  
  • I've owned a home.
  • I've lost a home.
  • I've been bankrupt
  • I've struggled daily to put food on the table for my family.
  • I've helped others in need
  • I've been at the top as well as at the bottom
  • I have a job I enjoy...most days.
  • I've been to Hawaii...twice.
  • I've been to Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, Maine, Florida...each place means something to me.
  • I have a college degree...not a major one, but I did work my ass off for it.
  • I've renovated a home with my husband...and we're still married.
  • I've worked a ton of really fun jobs and met some fantastic people in the process.
  • I not only learned how to work the internet, I've met the most amazing people through it that have become almost like family to me.
I know there's more, that I'm forgetting a LOT but that's what comes to mind right now.

I don't see any of my experiences in life as bad, I think they've all helped me to be a better person, to understand what it's like to go through great times...and not so great times. 

I look forward to adding many more things to this list and how much fun it will be and the memories that will go with each addition.

Friday, February 3, 2012


So..I just need to get this all out, our small successes.  My musings.  My excitement. 

I will be the first in line to shout it from a mountain top.  Budgets are hard.  It's even harder to live within the perimeter that you set for yourself.  Did you know that?

I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard the Shania Twain song called KaChing?  It's the truth of my life.  Why is it so hard for people to live within their means?  This country was started by people that had no means in which to live.  They came with the clothes on their backs and not much else..very little money the majority of them, I'm sure.  Where did we get this behavior from?  Where is it ingrained into our brains that more is better and less is bad?  That he who has the biggest house and most expensive car wins?  I think he (she) who can sit down with their family for dinner every day and sleep soundly at night and carelessly play games with their kids wins.  The one that is actually present every day.

It's nerve wracking and stressful when you have to spend time everyday pouring over your finances or always having to leave to go to work.  Everyone is scattered because stress is the mainstay in your life, no one wants to be around anyone else.  Money, in my opinion is both the root of all evil and the wonderful thing that keeps this world spinning round.  It really does make or break you.

My ex husband is life long friends with a successful major league baseball player.  We used to go a few times a year to their hometown to visit them.  My ex would go play golf or whatever it is they did.  His wife and I would always go have a nice quiet lunch together and just talk.  We really didn't have anything in common.  She grew up with money, she never knew what it was to struggle for even a day.  Her parents bought her first car....a shiny new mustang (the the rage back in the early 90's), they built their house with cash, paid cash for the land.  When I first met her she was a typical spoiled little rich girl.  She did what she wanted, when she wanted, no matter the cost.

Then one visit when we sat down for lunch...we actually talked.  She asked me about having kids and staying home with them.  What did I go through in a day, what did I do with my time?  She wasn't mocking or judgmental, she was curious and interested.  After lunch we went back to their house to wait for the guys to get back.  We still had hours.  We talked and talked.  I found out she had finally grown up.  It was one statement that made me realize it.  Even though I haven't talked to her in damn near ten years, I will never forget what she said to me that day when we talked about the differences between our lives.  She said it took her a very long time to realize how very lucky she was.  She was lucky she had no debt to hold her back, she was lucky to have money in the bank to do things she liked because she knows many people that don't...she was lucky to be able to lay her head down at night and fall right to sleep because she never learned what it was to stress about bills or money or anything like that.  Her house was paid for.  Her car was paid for.  Law school was paid for.  She was lucky to be able to just spend time with her family, she could eat dinner and have real conversations and take them places and no one worried.  I want that.  I want that kind of freedom in my life.

I think when this is all over...starting next year I'm going to implement a little thing I'm going to call Dump Day.  We're going to dump life for a day.  One random day we're going to call into work, the kids are going to skip school and we're just going to go do something fun.  Go make pottery, go to the zoo, hit the beach, go shopping, take in a movie.  Just because we can.  I know some people think attendance in school and at work is one of the most important things for kids to learn.  I think learning that your family comes before work and school is important.  Not that I don't value education because I do, but I don't see anything wrong with playing hookey for one day from life.  I look forward to this treat.  My time with my kids is limited, they're going to be all grown up soon and my chances to hang with them for a day will drastically dwindle to holidays.  I will never be able to live like she did, that baseball players wife.  I know the struggles of having no money, not knowing if I was going to be able to keep the lights on or have enough gas in my car to drive to work..and if I didn't if I had enough vacation time banked to call in or was I going to have to take it unpaid.  Those experiences make me who I am.  I'm comfortable with that.  I use all of my past life lessons to direct my futures path.  At least I try to.

I am so happy to report that at this point we hit our very first goal that we had set for ourselves, we are on our way to making that a reality.  We paid off ALL of our past due and back debt.  ALL OF IT.  Because you don't live in my bank account you cannot know how fantastic or how amazingly hard that shit was or how far we had to go.  I think it was harder than labor..but then again I don't remember much of labor so I could be lying but you get my point.  We did this in 30 days.  Imagine what we can do in 365.

I busted my ass to make it happen.  WE busted our asses.  We all helped.  Well...Aiana didn't help much, she didn't want to abide by the water and room heater rules (she likes to keep her room at a balmy cool 99 degrees at all times) so we had to take her heater away and she gets a prompt pounding on the door when her shower is approaching the half hour mark.  Such is life.  She's 15, she's going to hate us no matter what so we can use that to our advantage.

I can't even express in words how exciting this is for me and how excited it makes me to continue on.  I'm finding I can actually sleep at  I'm not dwelling over what needs to be paid that week, what bills I get to choose between and what can be pushed off, what turn off notice do I need to deal with this week.  It''s...pressure relieving.  It's that big sigh that just makes you feel like you've lost twenty pounds.  I love this feeling.  This feeling is what's going to get me through the rest of the year.

We are off and running towards our second goal now.  To build savings.  I think we should be able to hit that goal early but I know there are a few hurdles in our way this time around.  We have two cars that need brakes, we need a new shower in one of the bathrooms, and I think we're going to need engine work on the older car.  If I can stay on top of it we should be able to work each of those things into the budget, but it's also tax season. 

Tax season scares me like nothing else.  It's like a guessing game.  Do we have to pay in?  Do we get money back?  Why, oh WHY do we always owe so much city tax??  I don't get it.  I probably never will.  Oh well..not a damn thing we can do about it except make it through and deal with it again next year.  It's what will determine if we hit our goal early, on time, or push us behind.

All that said I'm hopeful and very optimistic that we'll hit our second goal early.  I just need to keep busting my hump like I've been doing and eventually it will pay off.  We made it through January, right?  Only eleven more months to go.

Only 332 more days to go until our goal of knowing absolute freedom.