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Posts tagged with: sanity

Lessons from Therapy: Day #1

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I just had my first therapy session this week and I’m happy to say that it went better than I’d expected! I was nervous about whether we would “click” and be a good fit, but we really gelled in terms of personalities and it felt like I was chatting with a friend (albeit a friend I’m paying to listen to me. heh).

I’m only one session deep at this point so, obviously, this person doesn’t know all of my “issues” yet. We mostly focused on my Dad’s health issues (and the time it takes to deal with said health issues – there’s a literal crisis every week) for my first session. And while I don’t plan to divulge all the inner details of my therapy with everyone reading (sorry!), I do want to touch on some things that come up as they relate to my finances.

For instance…my therapist suggested we hire a nanny/house-keeper. She got that one of the key stressors in my life right now revolves around time. Lack of it, to be precise. So she suggested I look into agencies where I could hire someone to come and help with the kids, drive to/from school if needed, do laundry, clean, cook, etc. etc. etc.

omg – that would cost a small fortune, right?

But even though I really don’t think that’s feasible, I kind of liked the idea of trying to hire out some help. I started thinking about “what if we hire a cleaning service to come monthly?” That’s not something I’ve ever done in the past. Never. But, given our imminent move (and likely to a place that’s a little bit larger), coupled with the fact that we’re already always behind on cleaning, it does relieve a good bit of stress to think that – at least once a month – our house could be thoroughly cleaned.

Again – the therapist doesn’t know all my “issues” yet, and we haven’t even touched on finances, financial goals, financial stressors, etc. etc. etc. But seriously….maybe not a terrible idea if it helps keep my mental health in check???

What do you guys think? Is it silly to even be considering hiring a cleaning service when we’re still so entrenched in our debt payoff? Or could I think of it as one of the costs I pay to have such a great income (meaning – since I’m working 2 jobs and making more money than I’ve ever made before, I have to make some trade-offs in other areas. Like, paying for cleaning help so I can spend that time focused on work)??? Thoughts???


Extreme Couponing…

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Ok, ok, you KNEW I was going to bring up the new TLC show ‘Extreme Couponing’ eventually.

If you’ve seen the show, you know it’s about men and women who spend a good portion of their lives clipping coupons and purchasing crap… *cough*… I mean, purchasing ‘stuff’ and ‘saving huge amounts of money’ while doing it.

I was excited to watch the show somehow thinking it would be informative and help me in my own shopping endeavors.

The only thing the show ‘informed’ me was that these people are nuts and I’ve got a pretty good handle on my sanity comparatively.

This week, I watched the episode with Missy, who spends 35 hours per week couponing. According to her, she saved $60,000 in one year. Um… I DON’T SPEND $60,000 ON GROCERIES IN ONE YEAR!! I spend about 5% of that. Theoretically, I saved $57,000 by not buying junk I didn’t need… and I don’t have to stockpile. Plus, let’s not forget to mention that I spend 40 hours per week working and made real money – not fake ‘saved’ money. The math doesn’t add up for these couponers.

In the episode, she purchased 54 bottles of laundry detergent. She also purchased hundreds of bags of cat treats…and she doesn’t own a cat. Who needs 54 bottles of detergent?!? Or 93 bags of croutons? Or cat treats without a cat? Unless that detergent can double as salad dressing and the cat treats as a weird form of bacon bits, I see a disconnect here.

Admittedly, I keep around 5 containers of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, and hair gel at any given time. I wait for a three or four dollar coupon, combine it with a sale, and buy a couple at a time. I never pay for these items. But do I keep a collection of several thousand bottles in my organized garage that I couldn’t use in 15 lifetimes? Not even close.

Let’s just call ‘Extreme Couponing’ what is really is…

Organized hoarding.


Black Friday…

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Black Friday this year was particularly dangerous. In late 2008, I lost my job and had only recently picked up a new one. We were so busy putting our financial lives back together that Christmas gifts weren’t an option. In late 2009, my husband was laid off and didn’t have a job over the holidays. We skipped Christmas that year too. This year, not only are we both employed, my husband got a raise and things are looking good on my end too.

I was ready to shop this year.

But, crazy thing happened on Black Friday…

I had to work.

I think I heard the Hallelujah chorus blaring from my wallet the entire morning.

Oh well. There will always be next year.

Did you shop on Black Friday this year? Or did you have a moment of sanity and skip it?


Mortgage Ratios…

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I was listening to Dave Ramsey last night while taking Hutch for a run and was flabbergasted as a man told Dave he couldn’t survive on what he was making. The man was pulling in just over $6,000 net each month and was carrying a $2,400 mortgage.

Dave said it was a tight budget but he should be able to survive on it.

‘Are you absolutely kidding me?!?!?’ I shouted as I ran.

I can’t imagine these kinds of outbursts make me popular with the neighbors – nor does it give them any sort of confidence in my sanity… but what else is new?

Without giving away too much about our income or mortgage amount, I’ll just put it this way, my husband and I make less than $6,000 net a month and our payment on the first mortgage alone is more than $2,400 a month. Not only do we survive on this, we reduce debt – and we’ve been doing it for two years.

Forgive me for being callus, but if you can’t survive on $3,600 a month after paying a mortgage, there’s a bigger problem than the mortgage.

BUT, I’m trying to change my paradigm and reduce the judgmental side of my personality. Do you need more than $3,600 to survive after your mortgage is paid? If so, why? (Not counting any medical problems or child care. The guy didn’t have medical problems and didn’t pay for child care)


‘Stuff’ My Dad Says

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Every once in a while, I try to read a book that isn’t somehow related to the economy, personal finance, or motivation. While I don’t write reviews of these books here, they are a big part of the reason I’m still sane…or at least a version of sane anyway.

I rented ‘Sh*t My Dad Says’ by Justin Halpern from the library and didn’t anticipate sharing it with you based on the fact that it isn’t about finance AND, let’s be honest, the name of the book makes it a rough sell – but hear me out.

Halpern moved home with his father at 29 after a particularly difficult break-up. Eternally amused and occasionally miffed by lessons from his father, he decided to write them down. The stories and quotes are funny and weirdly touching. Don’t tell anyone but – I cried during the last chapter.

It seemed like a good idea to read it on the train. ‘Seemed’ being the operative word.

I laughed so hard, people started to stare. Once I realized this, I attempted to stifle my laughter by closing my mouth… which only made my giggles come loudly out my nose as snorts. What seemed like 10 minutes into my commute, I looked up and realized I had missed my stop…3 stops ago.

After work, on the way home, I thought I fought the urge to burst into laughter a little better but when I went to exit the train, a gentleman touched my arm and asked what book I was reading. A little embarrassed, I showed him the cover and he said, ‘I have never seen someone laugh so much in a 45 minute period. I’m buying that book. Thanks for the afternoon entertainment.’

Here are some of the reasons I couldn’t stop laughing…

ON THE DEATH OF OUR FIRST DOG
He was a good dog. Your brother is pretty broken up about it, so go easy on him. He had a nice last moment with Brownie before the vet tossed him in the garbage.

ON MY BLOODY NOSE
What happened? Did somebody punch you in the face?!… The what? The air is dry? Do me a favor and tell people you got punched in the face.

ON SHOPPING FOR PRESENTS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY
If it’s not bourbon or sweatpants, it’s going in the garbage… No, don’t get creative. Now is not a creative time. Now is a bourbon and sweatpants time.

The worst thing you can be is a liar… Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is a liar. Nazi one, liar two.”

“Are you wearing perfume? …Son, there ain’t any cologne in this house, only your mother’s perfume. I know that scent, and let me tell you, it’s disturbing to smell your wife on your thirteen-year-old son.”

WARNING WARNING WARNING: This book contains profuse use of profanity. If you are at all sensitive, don’t read it.


Computer Help…

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Saturday morning, I woke up and tried to click on my favorite internet news site.

‘YOUR COMPUTER HAS LOST CONNECTION WITH THE INTERNET’ blared across my screen.

A five minute phone call to my internet provider later, I discovered my wireless router had died. Sure, my router is older than most sixth graders but I had hoped it would hang on until I was debt free – such a selfish router not to consider my finances before dying. But alas, in government terms, the router has ‘reached the end of its useful life’.

So, I did what I do best when it comes to broken things in my home, I kept my mouth shut and hoped no one would notice. In a crunch, I could bike to our local library to write the blog.

Thirty seconds after I made my decision to hide it, my brother shouted, ‘The internet is down! Do you want me to call the cable company? I’ve got a report to write for work.’

Darn.

I dragged my desktop computer halfway into the hallway and the Ethernet cable the other half distance to serve as a makeshift internet station. My brother isn’t necessarily pleased since he usually surfs the internet from the comfort of his room and given the fact that he pays half the bill, I need to fix it.

I am writing this blog from the ‘comfort’ of my makeshift internet station with my body jimmied between the hallway, the office, and the bathroom. I’ve tripped my husband 14 times and I have a nasty bruise on my leg. My brother keeps asking when I’m getting off the computer so he can write his work report. For my sanity and the sanity of those I live with…

Where is the best (code word – CHEAPEST) place to get a router?