"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for August, 2019

Waiting is the Hardest Part

I’m sitting on my front stoop watching the neighbors stroll by as I wait. For what you ask? For several things. Dorian is the biggest. That wrench has messed up everyone’s Labor Day weekend. While we seem to be out of the dreaded “Cone of Concern” (yes, that is the official name), this hussy of the storm has slowed and slowing means wobbling and wobbling could put us back into the CoC at the last minute.

Ugh, this means some shopping and getting gas which usually involves some form of lines and definite shortages. That has all been resolved. Now I have to stay out of the hurricane snacks. That is perhaps the biggest joke running on my FB feed. We are all nervous which leads to anxiety eating which depletes the snacks from when we will really want them. LOL

The Hunter has been coordinating all of our preparations and doing a great job. Now we wait for Dorian in whatever direction she decides.

I’m also waiting to move. My plan is to spend this weekend packing and I am underway. I have plenty of boxes and moving supplies. I have started the packing process and discovered that I STILL have a lot of stuff. I have so many boxes of photos, photo albums, memorabilia crap that needs to be sorted, organized, tossed and distributed. My plan is to just move the shit and then go through it in a methodical, leisurely manner.

The only thing left on the moving logistics is to actually hire my movers. Dorian may have cramped my style on this, but we will see. Interesting aside, movers get busy post storm moving folks out of damaged homes. Let’s see how this goes.

For now I wait. I wait for my second chance to live my life freely on my own terms. It will be interesting. Have I learned my lessons and will not repeat bad decisions? I guess we will have to wait and see. I’m 3 weeks from my move….

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Watching Karma at Work

The following little vignette struck me as a true example of Karma/the Universe at play.  If you recall, I had an ugly move-out situation with my old landlord.  You can read about  it here.

About four months after we moved out, the Hunter was having lunch with a business colleague.  Interestingly enough, in this huge metropolis of South Florida, the business colleague was friends with the landlady’s boyfriend.  They have dined together and even traveled together.  Keep in mind that the colleague is in business development, so who knows how deep the relationship really is.  Anyway, there the Hunter and the colleague sit enjoying lunch in a pretty obscure mom & pop restaurant when in walks the landlady and her boyfriend.

The colleague knew what had happened and had a look of discomfort pass across his face.  After all, he was consorting with the enemy.  He got up and walked over to say hi and the Hunter remained seated enjoying his lunch that the colleague was paying for.  When it was time to leave, he simply walked out with a smile on his face and no words.  She knew it was him.  She was even seated so she had to look at him over her lunch.

Then this past week and another 6 months later, he is walking out of a small city hall and walks right past her.  He was strolling along with a grin on his face because he had just thought of something amusing, so he looked relaxed and happy once again.  She saw him and her eyes narrowed.  She recognized him first.  It took him a minute to remember her.

When he told me the second story, it struck me why this was happening.  Karma/the Universe was using him to teach her something.  What?  I don’t know nor do I care.  What I find interesting is that she bumps into him when he is relaxed and happy.  She bumps into him in business contexts, not at the grocery store or something mundane.

I told the Hunter my theory on this.  He found it funny.  I think I am right.  Those two were like oil and water.  They never go along and she really despised him with a passion.  There is a reason they are crossing paths, but it has nothing to do with the Hunter.  He is only the tool Karma is using to hammer home her lesson.

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Photo by Sucrebrut on Unsplash

Adulting

This week was one of “getting shit done”.  I tackled packing up my son which involved a lot of sorting through stuff that has been in storage for the past year, creating an inventory of things he may need (lost in the break-up of his girlfriend) and then packing his car to capacity.

We actually had fun with all of the drudgery.  I coaxed him into saying good-bye to five garbage bags of old clothes.  We literally did the Marie Kondo method of “does this spark joy?” .  We were entertained.  He patiently tried on tons of clothes during the process.  We also had some shopping and a few miscellaneous errands, so the time went quickly.

He has already arrived in his new city and has hit the ground running.  He has a lot of “adulting” tasks to complete the next week, but his spirits and attitude are great, so he should be fine.

All of this sorting and packing for him has inspired me to get started on my own stuff.  Fortunately I have weeded out most of the superfluous except for the damn china and silverware.  Despite a huge purge for my last move, I still find things I won’t need or want, so a dreaded garage sale is in my near future.  I did tackle some administrative stuff like getting a new auto insurance quote, finding a cheaper cell phone plan, changing my renters insurance and adding a jewelry rider to it.  I have been quite productive.

I am still working on the Hunter’s big consulting project.  The client has been dragging their feet a bit about launching everything.  That’s actually good news for me because there is a ton of behind-the-scenes administrative work to do and I am about 75% complete.  I should be able to wrap it up soon.  He has another new potential consulting client that we are meeting next week.  My fingers are crossed on this one.

Work was a short week since I took two days off to hang out with my son.  That threw me off a bit, so the week ended before I knew it.  I learned some new technology out of sheer desperation.   I’m not familiar with Zoom meetings, so I coaxed one of the IT guys into giving me a tutorial.  He was laughing when I said that I needed more skills so I didn’t break out in a cold sweat whenever I had to lead one of these meetings.  He was a great teacher because later that day I successfully lead a meeting, shared my screen and multiple files with about 6 people.  That was a big win!

Nothing exciting to report.  I was a bit glum driving home on Friday because I have nothing fun planned.  Life isn’t full of adventure right now.  It’s just a huge re-positioning slog right now.  That’s OK, I am super-excited about my move and I know that by the end of the year I will be on a much better financial footing and I will have room in my life for more activities.  I miss being outside every day, so I can’t wait to get settled and be able to take a long walk every morning.  Commuting two hours every day has eliminated my walk time right now and I really miss it.  Now, let me step away from the computer…

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Dumping Stuff

It is time to finish getting rid of stuff and at the very tip top of my list is a set of china and sterling silver that had belonged to my stepfather’s mother.  I never knew her and despised him, so I am happy to let go of it.

However, it’s not that easy.  The sterling has value –about $1,000.  I filed my information with replacements.com and am matching things up.  It is a lovely, ornately designed set that I would never, ever use.  The ornateness makes cleaning it a nightmare and polishing silver is not on my list of fun things to do in front of the TV.

Besides, when am I having that fancy a dinner party?  Not my style.  My everyday flatware is nicer than average.  That goes for my everyday china set.  I use my wedding stuff because I like it and it goes happily into the dishwasher.

The china is pretty with delicate pink roses, scalloped edges with a light gold trim.  It is worthless.  It will cost more to ship it than I will get paid and they only want some pieces, not all.  Do I dump it or keep it?  My kids have no interest in it.

Either way, I have now inventoried and photographed all of it.  Now I can pack it up. I do know that I can sell the silver for it’s weight.  That would be my last resort.  I do have an old high school friend who is interested in the silver set for her daughter.  She is an antique collector and collects the very same pattern.  It will be interesting to see what comes of that.  I might give her the friends & family discount, but she was on occasion one of the “mean girls” in high school, so we’ll see.

This was one thing I really wanted off my To Do list.  The whole process of pulling it out, counting, taking pictures, etc. has been lingering on my To Do list for months.  Now I can happily cross it off!

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Yep, I just don’t see this for me…..  Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Let’s Do the Numbers

I have been running through my budget numbers trying to figure out how much money I need each month for the basics and how much I’ll be able to apply to paying down my debt.

Ever the optimist, I am hopeful that I can sell some stuff, take a loan from my whole life insurance policy and with the remains of Maggie & Co, pay about 75% of my debt in one big whoosh over the next 6 months.  I want to do my taxes before I get aggressive with my lump sum payments.  Lord knows I don’t want to be in trouble with the Tax Man again!  This 75% debt reduction is possible, but I have to be smart.

Right now I have $1500/month going towards debt and paying my son a small stipend.  I tell myself this is all temporary and by the end of 2021 I will have that money going straight back to my bottom line.  The majority should be back in my pocket by the end of 2020 with the stipend ending in 2021 as my son finishes school.

The other area I am looking at is lowering expenses.  My cell phone, cable bill, car insurance all have some fat.  I just got a quote that would reduce my car payment 50% from my previous insurance company.  Thank you, Progressive!  I’ll tackle that after my move.

I am not going to rely on side hustle income from the Hunter and a colleague who wants me to do some content writing for him.  That will be just found money.  I am also not holding my breath for the Hunter to come through on paying me back on his Promissory Note ($500/month for 24 months).  It hasn’t been signed and I haven’t heard mention of it every since.

If I can get all of my money sorted out, debt paid off, Maggie & Co expenses cut off, I will be hunky dory.  I just have to keep my eye on the ball and stay focused ….forever.  I was going to write “until” but this needs to be a lifelong habit.  I can never let expenses creep up on me like this ever.  I have to control my money and not let it control me.

Once I have the debt paid off, it is time to focus on paying off my car and then savings.  Saving for retirement, maxing out my 401k, paying back my life insurance loan to keep that healthy and have some savings allocated for things like car repairs, new car, traveL (yes, I have to have some fun), set up a clothing allowance, a fun allowance, more savings.  You get the picture.  I will stretch that $1500 every which way possible, plus it will grow to $2000 once my car is paid off.

For all you youngun’s, listen to old Maggie over here.  Define “youngun” – anyone under 40.  Feel good now?  Anyway, start saving now.  I started my 401K in my late 20’s/early 30’s.  I should have done more, but I did enough to get the match and later slowly inched it up.  Best thing I ever did financially.  Is it enough?  No, but it’s a heck of a lot more than most people have in their 401k.

Worse thing:  credit cards.  Those damn things are the bane of my existence.  So easy to say, “oh, I’ll pay it off in a couple of months.”  Well, if that is so, then I should just save up the money and pay cash.  Just say no to debt and use the cash envelope system for optional spending.

I used retail therapy during my marriage to soothe my psyche.  Bad habit.  I understand why.  I know why for about 8 years I spent over $12,000/year so my daughter could have a horse and go to horse shows.  I know why I would throw money at any problem or situation at hand.  But it was never the right answer.  Money doesn’t buy happiness.  It only masks the problems.  I understand that now.

I also understand that the lack of money causes unbelievable stress.   I read the posts by folks on various FB pages (like Dave Ramsey, YNAB, etc.) and they have so little and are trying so hard.  They are working several jobs, frugal to an unbelievable degree and working so incredibly hard to fix their financial life.  My hat goes off to them.  I admire their tenacity and am inspired by it.

For now, I keep working my spreadsheets, making my plans and remembering that I have to take care of me first.  I also have to remember that spending is optional.

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Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

He’s Back!

My son is home safe and sound, but he is visiting for less than a week.  He is literally passing through to pick up his stuff and head off to grad school.

He is staying with his dad, which is fine with me.  His dad is living with his GF, now fiancee, in a large house (even larger than what we had when we were married).  My son will be more comfortable there because at least he won’t be sleeping on a camping cot.

But his dad is once again trying to plan everything and those plans don’t include me.  It leaves my son stuck in the middle.  Nobody handles any of this with any finesse and my feelings got hurt. Ugh.  That’s the short, non-ranting version.  But I don’t write this blog to spare readers from my rant, so here goes.

I had made arrangements to have my son’s car taken to a repair shop that is owned by a friend of the Hunter.  This way the car could be thoroughly inspected before my son embarks on his long trek to school.  That repair shop is very close to where my Ex lives.  I set it up so my son could pick up the car a day or two after he arrives.

My son arrived late at night, so I didn’t go the airport thinking we could all get together for lunch the next day.  I had even texted that to his dad.  Somehow that all seemed to go sideways for a spell.  My Ex wanted to take him to do fun activities and things that didn’t include me.

It finally got straightened out, as I sat at the mechanic’s getting new tires.  My son really needs to manage both of us better.  Now I have to wait about 48 hours before I see him again.  I hate taking turns.  I hate when my Ex tries to monopolize him.  I feel like a second-class parent.  My son needs to be more assertive with his dad.  I know he just landed and what not, but really?  There were going to be no plans for me to see him the first day he returned from a YEAR away?

It all sorted itself out and the three of us grabbed a quick lunch.  I got to hear some about my son’s most recent adventures.  I heard recent news of the Ex and his family.  I just have to take a deep breath and relax.  My poor son is dealing with jet lag, culture shock and two very demanding parents.  OK, OK, I get it….grudgingly.

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My Son is the rope in this Tug-of-War…LOL    Photo by Darinka Kievskaya on Unsplash

 

Self Awareness

I was listening to This American Life about David Dunning  and his work on cognitive bias.  Don’t fade on me yet, it is really interesting.  If you prefer to read about it, here’s a link to his Wikipedia entry on the topic.

Basically, his theory is that people think they are smarter than they really are.  People aren’t aware of their lack of ability.  They simply don’t have the self awareness necessary.  Fascinating.  The conversation on This American Life was really interesting because it tied into something I have been pondering for the past couple of weeks.

I sucked at my former profession.

Yes, my whole idea that I was great in my profession was wrong.  I wasn’t.  I’m not.  I’m average at best.  If I had not found this job, I would have gone down in flames.  Maggie & Co. has crumpled into dust.  I got out just in the nick of time.  If I hadn’t gotten this job, I would probably be lining up to sell my plasma or something like that.  Seriously.

I listen to my new vendor who has my previous role and he’s good.  Quite good.  Better than me in some ways and he’s friggin’ the age of my kids.  Good grief.

I thank my lucky stars that I have this job.  I focus on being a diligent, good employee and pray every day that my good fortunate with this company continues.  My boss was telling me how relieved she is to have me in this role.  It has freed her up so much.

However, I also have realized that my new boss is a political creature.  She will never be my friend.  I must always keep my private life just that — private.  She overshares but does it from a need for attention and validation.  I like her.  I think I understand her, but I will never fully trust her.  She doesn’t like to confront and wants everyone to like her.  Those types of bosses can be dangerous.  I just have to remember her likes and dislikes and act accordingly.  I too can be a political creature…

Anyway, I digress.  I have to keep in mind this cognitive bias concept.  Listen to the podcast.  It is fascinating.

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Photo by Pedro Dutra on Unsplash

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