Friday, October 10, 2008

How are you coping spiritually/mentally . . .

In light of this impending economic collapse?

How are you staying balanced and not panicking?
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The hubby and I finally sat down and really looked at our books. Thank God for savings. We are hardly breaking even. Groceries have skyrocketed--I bought 5 lbs of flour for 3.50 last month. The same bag of flour was $4.50 last time I went. I am not kidding. This damn car payment. The mortgage. Incidentals and Accidentals. I'm regretting every purchase I've made over the past few months even though intellectually I know that I'm not a frivolous spender. But maybe I could have waited on that Vitamix (though it is really facilitating the green smoothies and I feel really good inside--better than I have in a long time--the other blender wasn't so bad, was it?). And why didn't I put an end to organic groceries month ago? Boy, the belt has just gotten tighter. Feels like a damn girdle. DH is working madd overtime. I'm looking for a way to bring in some kind of income without going back to work full time (would any one even hire me?).

So, I really need to get back to doing my journaling with discipline. Doing my affirmations. Something to help me stay balanced and not panic.

Was going to blog about pasta and tofu "meat" balls. Maybe tomorrow. I'm tired. And worried.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Did you know

You pay more for gas if you use your debit card and not cash?

Found gas the other day for $3.51/gallon and made sure to ask after I noticed that at the last fill-up, I asked for the lowest grade of gas and paid for supreme. Because I paid with debit. So I asked and it's true: you pay more.

So use cash for gas. Actually, maybe it's a good idea to use cash for more things. I love my debit card because I never felt secure carrying around wads of cash. It's become habitual to use the debit card and not cash. I think many people have grown to like the whole debit card business. Well, the times, they are a-changing. And so will we.

Lesson Learned

Okay, so I really like my car. It's a 2005 Subaru Outback wagon that we bought in 2006 when I went back to work. It had about 10,000 miles on it since it had been the dealership's courtesy car. Well, we bought it before I had actually started working which meant we really couldn't afford it. We didn't put anything down (like lots of Americans have been doing) but we aimed to pay it off in a year or so (which we could have done had I stayed at my job). Neither or us likes toting around debt. But the fact of the matter is, I had to leave my job. Whenever I get despondent about how much the car note is and start to romanticize about my job, DH reminds me just how awful it was. That I developed a serious case of hives. And came home in tears most every day. Still, here we are saddled with an admittedly nice, dependable car but it's expensive. It's not what we would have gotten had we not relied on that job to pay it. Hindsight says that since my DH was working evening shifts anyway, I should have driven his car to work until we had saved enough to buy the car. Surely that would have taken at least 5 months and by that time, I would have known the job was not for me.

The plan of action is to rock this car until the wheels fall off. Literally. I'm at 18K miles so far which is excellent for a car that's three years old. We take good care of it and hopefully it will reciprocate. That way, we get every penny out of it. The next car will be something I can buy straight out or at least put a serious down payment on.

Buying my car was, I think, one of those things you do as a young person. I was fresh out of grad school and starting a new career. I thought I deserved something to show my "status". I don't know about anyone else, but life has a sure way of humbling every time I get a little too big for my britches. Every time. So, I've learned my lesson and I've learned it well. I think many Americans are learning it too although, it seems, people have had to learn from even bigger mistakes than mine. And, it would seem, the consequences of these foolhardy choices are going to make life quite difficult and maybe even unpleasant at times for the the next few years.

Granted, we have no credit card debt. Our debt includes the mortgage on our house, the car and $15K in student loans--these are still loans nonetheless and needing a loan to me says "you cannot afford this just yet--wait". I'm not opposed to loans per se because it's clear that this economy is based on a system of loans and debt but I firmly believe that for me at least, I should have at least 1/2 to 3/4 the cost on anything. That lets me know that I can afford it. Like they did back in the day. Work. Save. Cut costs. Work. Save. Cut costs. My new mantra and, for me and my sanity, the best way.

Living within my means. This is one lesson that I hope to teach to my children through example.

A bust!

I've already spent $400 in groceries this month!! However, these are all things that are not perishable, i.e. things that will last in the freezer of pantry for a few weeks, months and even years. So I've increased the grocery budget to $500. That gives me $100 to play with for fruits and veggies at the local vegetable stand. That goes a long way there. I'd really, really like to at least stay below $500. I've been consistently skipping things that I used to like to get like spring rolls and cream cookies, soy ice cream, etc . . . and I am not trying any new recipes (therefore not buying things that I may or may not use again). I really miss trying new stuff but these times call for discipline and shaving off the fat.

In other news, I went to get Z2's passport picture taken and the guy who took it did it all wrong. So I'm going to another place tomorrow to get it done and we'll apply for the passport while we're out.

DH put up some new mailboxes outside. He did it in about 30 or so minutes. I just *love* that he is so handy. It is comforting to know that if the sh** hit the fan, he has skills that are marketable and useful. This is my single biggest wish for my sons (aside from them living fulfilled and happy lives)--that what they can do and what they know is universally and always relevant.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

There's so much going on in the world right now

That it seems kind of self-centered to be talking about myself. But this blog is about myself so . . . here I go.

I thought I'd elaborate more on my feelings about cutting my hair. Interestingly enough, the predominant emotion I feel is anger. I can't say that is directed toward anyone or anything but I'm just angry that I cannot have the head full of long, lustrous locks that I have desired for so long. Aesthetically, hair wise, few styles are more pleasing to my eyes than healthy looking, flowing dreadlocks. Since I wasn't lying when I said this last set would be my last set, I am sadly letting go of the dream of having them. It seems that by letting go of dreadlocks, there's a whole set of other things I'm letting go of/realizing. But all that is for my personal journal as I'm not ready to put it out there like that.

Currently I'm trying to convince myself that I look good with my hair this short. I'm also trying to be cool because it might never grow. Maybe through all of this I will come to find out that, surprise, it's all genetic. That thought struck me especially hard when my baby brother who's 17 showed me a bald spot. Come to think of it, lots of guys on my mom's side deal with thinning hair. Maybe this has something to do with my hair loss. Who knows? What I do now is that this whole hair journey has been completely and utterly exhausting. So aside from the anger, I also feel relief.

I am still working hard on emergency preparedness despite the fact that DH thinks I'm "paranoid" and "making him crazy". I'm working on our first aid kit and trying to get some lanterns/other light sources together. Tomorrow, I'm sending DH out to get massive amounts of bottled water. In a few weeks, we should be somewhat recovered financially and we'll be able to purchase the water filter. I can then save the bottled water. I want to find some water purifying tablets. I'm going to apply for Z2's passport on Tuesday. Tomorrow I'm headed to Whole Paycheck for my once monthly trip. Mostly I'll be buying bulk grains and beans.

I've been adhering to the grocery budget and still managing to stock the pantry. It's amazing how much further the dollar stretches when you do non-organic.

Other than that, I'm keeping my ear to the ground and taking everything in stride, trying to find some faith.
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