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Here’s What’s Bothering Me

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There’s a lot I’ve been thinking about lately–mostly centered on a couple of questions:

1) Am I TOO frugal and/or cheap?

2) And what is this frugalness/cheapness costing me? (Not speaking financially)

Here’s what’s bothering me: I have family that live within a 2 hour radius (immediately family- parents, brother…other family members and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) and then I have family who lives an airplane ride away- of course my sister who lives in Orlando, as well as my favorite aunt and cousins who live in Ft. Lauderdale. So is my being, what I deem, too frugal and cheap costing me memories and life experiences along the way with all these people? Hell, I have friends right here in town where it feels like I haven’t seen them in forever. There’s no way it couldn’t be, right?

My sister, who just had her first child, I KNOW could use all the help she can get, so even though I went and helped her out for a few days (if you can consider it help…I did pay for meals, both for myself and her family (sis + boyfriend) and helped drive her around for doctor’s appointments and errands), I feel like I SHOULD do so much more. I wish I would have brought a couple hundred dollars with me and bought them a week’s worth of groceries and a month of diapers. (Note- I did buy them a baby supplies of their registry prior to me blogging here to help them out- still not enough, IMO). So why did it feel like I COULDN’T do this, even though I have the means to? Is it selfish? I think it is. And even though we were never really that close growing up, I can’t help but feel that adulthood is the best time to build a bond we didn’t have as children.

My parents- my parents gave me a fantastic childhood. FANTASTIC childhood. And even into adulthood, even though we don’t always see eye to eye, we’ve become, in a lot of ways, friends. I wish I were in a position to help them out now that I’m a grown man and say “thanks for everything.” I shouldn’t say this- what I should say is I wish I FELT like I were in a position to help them out. Again, if you look strictly at my budget, I have the means do it, so why does it feel like I can’t? Not only this, but I get a feeling that they still worry about me (granted, I’m not a parent, so maybe parents just always have that feeling with their children) since my existence right now is fairly…bare bones. They’ve never come out openly and said this, and I’ve never inquired about it so it really is just a feeling (like whenever I go up to Buffalo to visit them, my mom’s ALWAYS trying to send me back to Erie with a week’s worth of food, lol, which I normally decline unless it’s 1- homemade soup or 2-Sahlen’s hot dogs). For the mom’s out there- is this just a mom being a mom? And whenever something sorta minor comes up down here, my dad is always the first to ask if he needs to come down and sometimes he just comes regardless- again is this just a dad being a dad? Two notes- 1) I’m NOT complaining- I love my parents, I’m just wondering if my cheapness is keeping them worried 2) I’m completely independent of them financially and have been since college graduation. So is my debt payoff plan keeping me from building a trust and bond with my parents that I think we could have?

And then’s there’s my friends- the longtime friends that I haven’t forgot about. How many times does your phone have to ring and you have to say “No” or suggest the “cheap beer thing” before the phone stops ringing? I feel like I’m living this experiment right now. For the out of town friends- how many months and years have to go by between visits and conversations before the friendships are really just good memories? Again- living that experiment. I wrote about being an introvert in post describing my Social Life, and in no way, shape, or form a socialite (still true), but I’m not a recluse, either. A couple weekends ago, my best friend Cameron stopped by on his way through town, which subsequently led to a Moe’s trip. It was AWESOME, and something I haven’t had in far too long. Most of my friends are married with children at this point, and even though that’s probably has a lot to do with us losing contact, I blame a lot, if not most, of it on myself- had I not been so focused on debt payoff, where would we be? And that’s the tough question; one that no one can answer.

Over past couple of years, the only relationship that I’ve felt truly grow and blossom is my relationship with my girlfriend. Since we’re in similar but not so similar situations (I’m paying off debt, she’s going back to school), we really know where the other is coming from and we’ve been able to work as a team to overcome (knock on wood) any obstacle that we’ve come across. And since we’ve both have had to have a frugal mindset since we’ve been together, we have a pretty open relationship concerning our finances and our lives in general (and it certainly helps we share a lot of the same personality traits and interests).

This post has been very hard for me to write. When it’s come to debt and the payoff, I’ve always played the stoic card- the debt and my spreadsheets are just numbers after all. But what I’ve haven’t done is take time to look at what/how the payoff is effecting me in more than just financial terms. It’s pretty clear I’ve made pretty good headway on my debt, so my question is:

What would you do/what have you done if you found yourself in the same situation?

Would you slow down the debt payoff to take care of other, maybe more important things, or would you continue to pay it off as fast as you could and take care of things after it’s all said and done? One note to keep in mind- my timeline for this debt payoff (on my current trajectory) is completion by November ’16, or 18 months.

P.S. I don’t really have anything to share this week on the debt numbers themselves. I didn’t really pay anything, so I’ll save it for next week.

 

 


Update on Child Support

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Just a quick update on the loss of income in regards to my younger two child support that I wrote about in mid December. At the time, he was going to miss his car payment that is in my name and didn’t know when he’d be able to provide any support for our kids.  To be clear as I know this issue is dear to many people’s hearts due to their own history. Let me clarify a few points up front:

1. No, we do not have a formal child support agreement and no, I will not be pursuing one.  I chose this for two reasons, one, I wanted full legal and physical custody of the kids. Two, I didn’t ever want money to be a reason for him to bail on them or become just another issue in our already rocky relationship.  He has ALWAYS come through when they needed something and has voluntarily paid half of anything I asked, sometimes more.  From what I hear from other parents in my situation, the court ordered payments are 1) hard to get and 2) not close to the amount he has voluntarily provided through out the years since we split.

2. The car was purchased in my name for him while we were still living together. He has not been able to refinance it.  It IS in our divorce decree that he is solely responsible for the car financially, the debt, the maintenance, the insurance, the taxes, etc.  As soon as it is paid for, I will sign it over to him and be done.  Only one other time has he had trouble making payments on it, and then I asked for it back, sold my car (my dream car Honda Element that was paid off) and drove it and paid for it.  I did not want the car, and when he was able to take it back over, he did so.  If I had wanted to keep it, he would not have fought me on it.  But it was just too much car for me and the costs to drive it were high.  This was also a major bad decision area for me, because instead of buying a reasonable used car, I bought a new sedan (the twins were with us but supposed to be going home at this point.)  This is one lesson I have DEFINITIVELY learned now.

So now we are here, 6 weeks after the announcement that I would not have any support going forward while he got his new business off the ground.  He did catch up on the car payment, a week late, and I was able to refinance the loan to buy his a 6 week break from payments, get him a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment.  All around a win in both our eyes.  The first payment on that loan was due yesterday…and he paid it on time!

So no, child support to date, but his new business is up and running and I know he’s working as hard as he can to catch up.  The kids call him regularly to see if he’s going to come see them…he hasn’t.  I took them to his new shop once and to hang out for a while with him.  (No, I don’t go out of my way to do this, but I had to be that way for the twins and then had a couple of hours to kill before picking them up and it wasn’t worth driving home, so this was a good compromise.)

Every one’s divorce, separation is different. I know mine is unusual but it works for us.  And I think for as unhealthy as our marriage was, our divorce is very healthy.  I am grateful for the tough love the last year.  As a result, I’m in a place that the missing funds don’t hurt so much.  I am now NOT dependent on the little kids child support.  Now to break that reliance on the twins adoption supplement.