Random Saturdays – Big Expenses

Sometimes, my friends try to be nice and use words like, “sensible” or “frugal” to describe me, but really, I’m just cheap.  I don’t like spending money, especially on myself.  I like to save it, not because I want to be buried with it someday, but because I have no money and no kids and my parents never saved money.  I just want to be able to take care of myself and my parents as needed.  That’s all.  Since I don’t make much money, that means spending even less money.

I bought an iPhone 4 just before the iPhone 4S came out because I needed a new phone and had been screwed over by my pre-paid phone plan providers.  Since I had to spend $200 on the phone. I vowed to keep it until it would run no more.  That ended up being this year.  I think that if I reverted it back to the original software and used it only for texts and calls, it would work fine.  Since that is not why I have a smartphone, I decided to get a new phone.

Because my phone was dying anyway and Ben and I do not like to use our work phones for phone calls, texts, or emails (partly for privacy, more for lack of reliability), we decided that we’d get new iPhones when they came out and put it all on a shared plan.  I had a pre-paid plan for my iPhone and he had a Jetpack, so we’re really only spending a little more now to have an extra phone line, but neither of us will have to deal with the frustration of using our Android work phones or my old iPhone.  We did have to deal with the frustration of waking up at 2 am to pre-order the phones and waiting almost three weeks to have our phones delivered, but hey.  Such is life.

Shortly afterwards, Ben and I discovered that we’d both had alot of the same back, arm, and neck issues.  Since he’s very healthy and I’m on the verge of death, we realized that it had to be from the one thing we had in common – sleeping on the same mattress.  We had discussed buying a Sleep Number bed before, as in, let’s start saving now so that we can buy a Sleep Number bed in a few years.  When we realized we needed a new bed right away, we decided to go ahead and go with a Sleep Number.

It was very expensive and gave me heart palpitations, but we got a good deal on it.  For the normal price of a p5 bed, we got the bed, the SleepIQ, a mattress protector (which is also like an extra layer of cushion), and two memory foam lumbar pillows.  My last bed was $800 for the frame, bed, and box spring.  Granted, it was a full instead of a king, but I thought that was splurging at the time.  I’m having to adjust my whole point of reference.

That’s the thing, I’m having to adjust my perspective on life because my life is very different now from the way it has been the past seven years, and that’s a good thing.  I’m not alone anymore.  I’m not purchasing things alone or suffering from a bed bed alone.  It’s also nice to have someone who reminds me that I’m not a bad person for doing something for myself.  Lord knows my perspective on that definitely needs some adjusting.  I wish they had special support pillows for the soul.  Copyright and patent that!  My first million!  I’m gonna have this bed paid off in no time!

Random Saturdays – Weddings

On the way to work, I tend to flip around between the different radio morning shows.  Everyone kept talking about weddings and I couldn’t figure out why.  Finally, one of the shows mentioned that this is June, which is apparently right smack dab in the middle of Wedding Season.  Why anyone would want to get married during the hottest part of the year baffles me.  If you’re a teacher and you want to get married when you have some time off, I get it.  Otherwise, I don’t.

Then again, I don’t really like weddings anyway.  They seem like a really expensive way to turn you and all the people around you into stressed out jerks.  I expressed this sentiment to Ben and told him that I’d rather invite my friends and family to all jump in our cars and drive through traffic together because we’d get the same results without all the fuss.  Most of the conversations on the morning shows have been about people’s bad experiences at weddings or while planning their own weddings.  People are too cheap to pay for something that a guest wants or the guests are being too demanding about something.  Future in-laws fight.  Lifelong friends stab each other in the back over the choice of dresses.  Bridezillas.  It’s really a terrible thing.

I’ve been watching Friends reruns here and there over the past few weeks, and they’ve had episodes of all of the different Friends weddings.  As funny as they all are on tv, those weddings would all be completely miserable experiences in real life.  They were all also very expensive and time consuming.  I have never understood why people put themselves through so much stress.  Why not spend that money on a down payment on a house?  Pay off student loan debt?  At the very least, go on a nice honeymoon?  Actually, people seem to like to start their lives together with lots of stress and lots of debt.  The American Plan is supposed to be that we go to college, graduate with ungodly amounts of debt, get into more debt by planning a huge wedding that nobody enjoys, go on an expensive honeymoon, and then come back and get into more debt by buying a house that you can’t afford while driving multiple cars that you can’t afford.

Right now, Ben and I are both paying on our student loans.  I graduated with $32,000 of student loan debt in 2012 and I now owe $36,000 even though I have made every one of my payments on time for the past two years.  I can’t afford to pay more on them than I’m already paying, though.  We are also saving up for the down payment on a house.  Since he has three kids and rebuilds cars, we need a house with alot of space.  As it is, Ben crams himself into a tiny garage to work on the Mustang, or he makes the three-hour trip back and forth between our house and his parents’ farm to use the trailer and/or work on the Jeep.  It would really save us time, money, energy, and stress, if we just invested into a home where he could do all of that without making the long drive.  Looking into the cost of homes, we could buy one similar to the one we’re renting right now for close to the same price as buying one that will allow him to enjoy his hobbies at home.  Thinking about adding more debt to my name frightens me, but it’s also necessary (just like it was for my degree).

So, when I think about people spending the amount of money on a wedding that I spent on college, I feel a a bit nauseous and a bit violent.  Why put yourself through that for something so stupid?!  You can celebrate the day with your friends and family without all the muss and fuss.  Eliminate unnecessary costs and stress because there will be no shortage of either of those in your life.  Have a small ceremony, gather your closest friends and family around for a nice meal, and enjoy your time together as a new family.  As far as I’m concerned, the only things about weddings that really matter is the promise that you are making to your husband/wife and, of course, the wedding cake.  All of that other mess can go somewhere.

Random Saturdays – Triggers

I don’t know about you, but I have some very strong emotional triggers.  Since I no longer spend most of my non-work time alone, I’m becoming very aware of my triggers.  There’s not much that I can do to avoid them, but I’m trying to be aware that some emotional/physical roller coaster of some sort has been triggered and that I need to stop it.  When you’re alone all the time, it doesn’t really matter.  It just means that you’ll spend the weekend sleeping on the couch, trying not to think about things at all until you can get back to the welcomed distraction that is work.  When you’re not alone, you have to be aware of these things because they will affect others and you will waste your time with your neuroses instead of enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Also, it’s alot easier to get your crap together for a few hours on a Saturday so you can enjoy an afternoon with your parents than it is to get your crap together every day so that you can make the most of your non-work time with people instead of enjoying the comfort of wallowing in your own self pity.  Who knew?

Here are some of my biggest triggers:

  1. Money — I have none.  I don’t usually spend it, so I don’t normally miss it.  I also don’t like people spending money on me;  it always makes me feel guilty.  I’m a grown ass woman with a damned job, so why should I mooch off of other people?  If I’m with a group of people participating in something, then it’s okay if I don’t fully participate so that I can save money.  My friends and family understand that I enjoy their company more than I enjoy doing things, per se.  Ben’s friends and family aren’t as familiar with my brand of crazy, though.  So, I can be rude and offensive and not partake in things, or I can let people pay for me to do things so that I can be part of the group.  It causes me alot of anxiety.  When I can, I try to pay for some or part of whatever it is so that I don’t have to feel like such a mooch, but I just can’t keep up with them in that sense.  Of all the people I know, it’s just Amanda and me that have this issue.  So, yeah, I realize that it’s completely irrational for money to cause so much anxiety for me for those reasons, but it does.
  2. Food — Okay, this one’s not as weird, but it’s still unhealthy.  Society’s materialistic standards, blah blah blah, I’m fat.  More than that, I’m very short and asthmatic.  So, my weight is tied very directly to my health.  Even if I overeat at just one meal, I can feel my gut pressing on my lungs, threatening to deprive my body of oxygen at any moment.  I don’t have any self control when it comes to food, so I only police myself by buying specific groceries and preparing specific meals so that I don’t have the opportunity to think about changing my meals.  This doesn’t work quite as well with Ben.  We went to the grocery store this week and the only produce we got was a small veggie tray that remains untouched in the fridge.  The rest of the $80 of groceries were mostly crackers, cookies, nuts, and frozen pizzas.  I’m a compulsive eater and can easily eat an entire meal without remembering that I’ve eaten at all if my asthma or acid reflux aren’t reminding me that I have.  I also grew up in the 80s with a mom from a Third World country.  So, I learned to eat whatever was on my plate, no matter how much it was or how sick it made me.  For the most part, I still do that today.  Even when I’m aware of what I’m doing, I can’t seem to stop.  When it comes to sweets, all bets are off!  I will knock down old ladies and children to get to German chocolate cake.  Don’t get me wrong;  I’ll apologize afterwards…when my belly is full of cake…So, I’m constantly thinking about what I have eaten, what I will eat, and what I wish I were eating, which makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me feel self-absorbed, which makes me feel guilty, which makes me depressed and anxious.  (For the record, beating up old ladies and kids makes me feel like that too.  I just think that those feelings are more appropriate for the situation.)
  3. Shopping for Clothes — Even just thinking about buying clothes gives me the heebie jeebies.  Once or twice a year, I can get in a mindset where I can put aside my hatred of myself to focus on my love of quality clothing at good prices.  The rest of the year, I just look at the holes that my thighs are wearing through my jean britches because my thighs are so fat and I pray that the jeans will win the fight for just a few more months while I eat a pint of ice cream to console myself.  (I’ll see your #2 and raise you a lactose intolerant.)
  4. Man, that last sentence did not paint a pretty picture in any way, did it?

Random Saturdays – When did $100 become cheap?

I was disappointed (yet again) this week when my latest O Magazine newsletter contained a link to an article on fashion finds under $100.  Apparently, you can get an entire dress for $30, but the matching belt is $99…and that’s only if you use the special code…and the belt doesn’t even come with fireworks or anything.  I don’t consider that a fashion find.  I realize that probably makes me sound like a cheap skate (an accurate assessment), but  I was born in the 1980s with the financial sensibilities of someone born in the 1890s, so get off my lawn!  Also, I grew up kinda poor.  We were technically middle class, but my parents were terrible with money.  (They’re good people and I don’t begrudge my parents anything, despite the amount of angsty ’90s rock that I love.)  It just means that I will always have Poor Person Mentality.  In fact, I’m proud of it.  It’s wasteful to spend $100 on a pair of trousers when you can get them for $15 in the clearance section of Old Navy.  I know that there’s a difference between the materials used, the quality of thread used to sew seams, etc.  However, if you are patient, you can get good deals on quality clothes at a variety of stores.  Plus, a small price tag doesn’t have to equal low quality clothing.

Such a deal!

Such a deal!

I’ve also heard the theory about “investing” in basic pieces that will last years.   I wear the same clothes for years and years, but I still don’t “invest” more than $30 on any single item of clothing and no more than $50 on a coat or shoes.  Most people get tired of their clothes after a year or two.  Most of the people I know get tired of their clothes even sooner (or they gain/lose weight, get stains on the clothing, tear holes in the clothing, etc.)  Furthermore, think about what it means to “invest”.  If you make $15/hr (that’s an average of the “all occupations mean”, and the two ranges for the top 10 non-nurse occupations from the 4th para. of this 2011 report from the U.S.  Dept. of Labor, not completely accurate, I know, but this is my personal blog), then you have to work a full eight-hour day to buy that $99 belt (think about income tax, sales tax, any gas spent going to the store, shipping costs if buying online, time spent shopping, etc.)  So when I think about buying anything, I always think, “Was  this worth X hours of work?”  I have yet to see a pair of pants worth a full day’s work, much less a belt.

That being said, if something is handmade from socially and environmentally responsible materials, I will admit that the product is worth more than something that is made out of kittens and sewn by children in a sweatshop.  That does not mean that I will pay $99 for a belt, but it does mean that I won’t bitch about it as much.