Bob Aamodt from Knox Capital came to speak at a Finance and Accounting luncheon at my work today. His talk was on getting your financial house in order, a subject that usually morphs me into full-on nerd. I’ve always been a goal oriented person. There were milestones that I always thought I would cross.
I was feeling reflective on the train ride home about where I’m at in my financial life and, as per usual these days, feeling anxious over my future finances. Suddenly it occurred to me if I was speaking to my elementary school self, what would I say and how would that differ from what she would see?
When I thought about my 30s, I thought I would be the boss. I thought I would have most things figured out. I thought I would have a wonderful, chaotic, full life where I balanced home and work with confidence.
On paper, most of my aspirations came true. I bought a house before I turned 30. I married a lovely man who is my partner always. We are slowly growing our family. I feel that I am good at my job. I have people that look to me for their assignments at work. I am not rich, but financially, I am not struggling.
My life has wonderful, chaotic full moments. The stark difference is that the confidence is not how I imagined. The ease. The control. Often times I wonder how everything is going to come together. Often times I despair that it won’t.
I wonder if I was speaking with my 50-year old self, would the conversation have the same cadence? Would I still be that lady that doubts herself? Would I still wonder how things will work out? I suppose that’s what’s so nice about dreaming your future self. You hope that it will.
I am notoriously bad at staving off the temptation for eating out, but the husband and I went through an entire credit card cycle with less than $15 in dining out charges. $10 of those dollars weren’t even mine! Shocker. Although I can’t say this will become the average for months to come, it’s encouraging to see the conscious spending paying off.
It’s helped that we’re adding new recipes to our arsenal. The husband is a wonderful cook, but I need no-hassle-tasty recipes to keep interested. Trolling Joy the Baker has helped. Cup of Jo, too. Also, A Cozy Kitchen (pic above).
This article was especially interesting: The Tyranny of the Chicken Finger. The husband always calls me out on refusing to eat something I’ve never eaten before.
I opted for The Mindy Project and ice cream to yoga tonight. I regret nothing. Also, I forgot to secure the top to my water bottle before I put it in my purse and essentially drowned my copy of Neuromancer that I was valiantly trying to tackle yet again.
I could continue with my list of failures (I probably need to wash my hair) or I could remind myself of this video I watched over the weekend.
Today’s swissmiss quote is so poignant for me right now. Sometimes I am too resigned for my own good. This year will be full of changes and I’d rather take them on bravely than my usual way of caution and worry.
The husband and I have tried to incorporate one new recipe a week into our usual dinner rotation. Yesterday we made Joy the Baker’s Sausage and Mushroom Risotto with the little sis. It turned out really well although spicier than my wimpiness usually takes it. Last week we made Smitten Kitchen’s Chana Masala. The week before we made Creamy Caprese Pasta. The change in routine definitely staves off the temptation I have to eat out. Plus there was this great moment where the husband was sauteing onions, the lil sis was watching the chicken stock simmer and I was pretending I knew how to chop mushrooms that I thought, This is exactly where I want to be.
After binge reading my go to personal finance (pf) sites, I generally feel a sense of reinvigoration to make course corrections, big or small, in my financial decisions. At the very least, I live vicariously through internet pf comrades that will soon or have already reached financial independence in their 30s and 40s.
These past few days have been different though. I’ve felt a worrying sense of ennui. I don’t want to retire to the woods. In fact, most outdoor activities lie somewhere at the bottom of my list of things to do for fun. Allergies to most trees, grass, pollen, dander and mosquitoes will do that. I don’t own a bike and haven’t ridden one since an unfortunate tumble in the fifth grade left me with a chin full of stitches and scratched up knees and hands.
Aside from the errant ksl purchase (my car, computer, and an old couch), I’ve never bought anything second hand. I am not an engineer nor a manager, mid level or otherwise. Neither is the husband. Our combined income is modest compared to the pf folks I’ve been reading. I once tried to ask for a raise and got so nervous I sabotaged myself and only received pitying looks from my supervisor.
The husband and I don’t own any rental properties nor do we feel inclined to do so in the future. We have never maxed out our 401ks. We break most of the things we try to fix ourselves. We are picky eaters and I can’t stand the taste of rolled oats. I don’t want to eat rice and beans for lunch every day. I like eating meat. I like eating out. I like consuming entertainment. I enjoy the occasional vacation to places far outside my zip code.
I like my new house and the pretty things in it. I would like to put more pretty things into it. I went this morning to a yoga studio of which I’ve maintained an almost 8 year patronage. I also got my eyebrows threaded and I buy fancy shampoo.
This listing feels incomplete but long enough. Confessing even a fraction of my excuses/complaints makes me feel a little better though. As I look through all of this whining, I am struck with one clear thought. I have a good life. I could keep at this pace, with these habits and be fine. The husband and I save around 40% of our net income. We have no revolving debt besides our mortgage. We both have secure jobs with adequate benefits and cheap commutes.
What I need to do to shake out of this funk is stop reading what everyone else is doing, and find what’s going to work for me. What do I want?
- I want to be able to raise a family without being paralyzed with worry over money or spending too much of it.
- I want to have more mindfulness in the activities I pursue and the decisions I make.
- I want a financial safety net to help me be brave and overcome my more practical/realist/boring sensibilities.
I’m still working on it.
My persistent introspection tends to highlight my shortcomings over my achievements. Sometimes the days blur and time, or its passing, starts to feel monotone and flimsy. I write to remind myself. 2014 was a good year. It was a year of exciting changes. It was a year of promises and previews.
I became a homeowner. I turned 30. I convinced my husband to go on a diet with me where we pretended eating fish for 3 days straight and giving up sugar and bread wasn’t the total worst (okay, it wasn’t the total worst). I read some lovely books. I watched some lovely movies. I got a much needed Lauryn Hill do-over. I went to my first Comic Con. I visited Red Butte Garden for the first time. I made my first trifle. I baked muffins and corn bread and French bread and cookies.
I was assigned an actual grown up food assignment for family Christmas dinner that was not a veggie tray or chips. I celebrated six years with my husband. We expanded our portfolio and met most of our financial goals for the year. I tried to ignore all of the times I didn’t quite measure up to my expectations or the personal goals I set for myself. I tried to remember to breathe. I tried at least as often as I stood still. 2014 was a good year.
I finished Matilda by Roald Dahl narrated by Kate Winslet (thanks, Mark!). Surprisingly, this was one of those classic books I never read as a kid. It’s too bad. I gravitated towards books about children, especially small girls that were weird or alone or otherwise misunderstood in some way. I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time over a dozen times and admired Meg Murry. Likewise Jonas in Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
I guess I was the weird kid that held onto her ‘smart girl’ badge as tightly as she resented (and secretly disbelieved) it. I’ve been trying to come up with who I want to be in 2015, what I want to do or how I want to succeed. I’m struggling with the details.
Random from swiss miss, this is gorgeous and lovely:
I’ve been thinking a lot about my 2015 goals, but haven’t committed anything to paper yet. The husband and I will be doing that this coming week, I think. Every year brings a promise of new and exciting things, a chance for improvement. This year will be no different of course. Lots of changes, lots of progressing, lots of regressing, lots of mistakes and messes.
I’ve been slowly going through Joan Didion’s We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. It’s weirdly perfect for the mood I’ve been in lately. Between that and Anna Kendrick’s first few lines of “Still Hurting” in the trailer of The Last Five Years, I wonder how I can pour more of those feelings into the new year. The quiet moments of truth. The bareness. The feelings that feel so universal it expands from those hidden spaces into something sprawling. Something sweeping and powerful. And sure.
After a week of feeling angry and helpless and sad at everything that is going on in the world, after the meanness I’ve been feeling for strangers on the train, co-workers, basically most everyone that have had the misfortune of being in my sphere, after feeling sorry for myself for longer than I should have, I decided to stop. Or pause, at least.
I thought about the I world live in. I thought how small I’ve made it. I don’t ever mind that it’s small. I choose my words. I try to be sincere. I love the people that I love. I pretend that I don’t see when life is unfair or random or mean. I don’t always have to pretend. I see moments of kindness. I see imperfect people trying to do their best. I see how much more difficult I could have it. I see that I don’t always have to be afraid.
Christmas is coming up so fast and I feel like I’m finally starting to catch my breath.
Witchy socks knit a few Halloweens ago. 1st & only hand made knit that I knit for myself
I read this article via Cup of Jo about Marie Kondo and her approach to cleaning and organization. I always feel better when things are organized, clean and uncluttered. I’d like to say my house, my life is always this way, but that would only be me wishing out loud.
Marie Kondo’s approach is to take out each item and assign value to it. If it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it out. A couple years ago when I was obsessed with reading articles on minimalism, I read a post of someone who called the police after they were robbed. The police came and thought the couple had been wiped out, but only a broken window and laptop were evidence of the robbery. I’ve never pared my stuff down that much nor do I really want to, but I like the idea of assigning value to the things I love and getting rid of the things I don’t.