Monday, April 14, 2008

Mama Monday #19.1

Theme: Backwards

You won't be able to tell this once I hit publish, but I'm actually writing this post backwards today. That is, I'm writing what I want to write about, and THEN I'll decide - from that - what the overall theme of the post is.

See, since taking over Mama Monday as my own independent thing, I now have the luxury of doing things a bit backwards on a regular basis. Before, I was dependent on an outside source to tell me on what theme I should write. But now, I'm able to figure out what issue I'd like to write, and then decide what theme lies therein.

So today, I suppose, is really no different. I'm writing what I want to, and a theme will arise from that. Except - in today's case, I really don't know EXACTLY what I'm writing here (I have so much on my mind lately) and therefore don't EXACTLY know how to place it all neatly within a singular theme word.

Here's hoping I see things more clearly when I'm done writing this post...

Hmmmm.... let's see. As you can probably tell from recent posts, I've had finances on the brain as of late. In fact, it's close to the primary thought in my mind at all times this year. (Okay, let's be honest - I've always been worried about our finances. But this year, at least, Hubby and I are much more of a team about taking care of the budget).

Without getting into detail - things are fine for us. Really. But as I said recently in another post, it's a constant challenge. We're not using our credit cards this year (and hopefully that will get us in the habit moving beyond this year to not always turn to our plastic to help us out). So we're always having to think ahead before making bigger purchases.

Constantly looking into the future to see if we truly can afford something "extra" right now, or do we have to wait for another paycheck or two to come in before we can do something/get something "special".

Currently, the "special" thing is new running shoes for Hubby.

In high school, Hubby was a runner. He was on his track team for a long time. He did well and he enjoyed the sport.

In college, he intended to continue with this athletic lifestyle. But his knees felt otherwise. Nope. No more running for him. The end.

However, over the course of the 11 years I've known Hubby, he's occasionally attempted to take up the healthy hobby again. Usually these attempts get an awesome head start, have great momentum for a week or maybe three, and then peter out. His knees hurt again. The orthotics in his shoes aren't right. The weather isn't agreeable. Something.

A week or so ago, Hubby started running again. So far, so go as far as his past knee pains go. He's gotten rid of the orthotics all together (on the advice of our chiropractor), and he thinks this has made a big difference in how he runs. By now, he assures me, in the past he'd have serious knee pains after all the running he's done. But this time? Nope. Still good. Still enjoying it. Still motivated.

But - he needs new running shoes. His are literally falling apart at the seams. Last week he told me, flat out - I'm getting new running shoes this week. I don't care what you say - I'm getting them.

(Oh, but how fast I pointed out to him that that just is NOT likely to happen. Silly boy).

In short, I had to remind him - unlike our past financial frivolity - that just because he chose this time in his life to start running again, it doesn't mean that we can afford for him to get new running shoes right now. We'll have to look at our finances together, figure out our needs for this month's bills, see what his schedule looks like for upcoming jobs, and THEN we'll know when a new pair of shoes can enter into his life. I'm sure it will be soon enough. Just not immediately.

He gets it. Really. We both do. But we often need that reminder that we just can't do or get things "just because" anymore.

(FULL DISCLOSURE TIME: On the other hand, I too am constantly in the hunt for a decent, attractive, wearable pair of shoes for myself. A hunt Hubby knows is a terrible frustration for me, and that when I do find workable shoes, I should get them because so few pairs like this exist. My current shoes are too big for me, often making me trip along as I walk from falling out of them. However, I recently found two new pairs of shoes, which we were able to afford at the time. They arrived, I don't like them, and their back in the mail. Instead, I now have a new pair of shoes on their way to me today, replacing the two pairs that are going back. Hubby is good with this, thankfully, having settled down from his initial demanding statement about his own shoe needs.)

Anyway. Money. Always an issue. Always a major consideration in what we get and how we live our lives.

Because of this, I've realized for myself within the last month or so, that I personally don't need or want much of anything. Hubby needs stuff for work. Or to keep himself safe. But me? Other than the aforementioned shoes, I'm good. Whatever.

A massage person comes into our work once a month and gives 10 minute/$10.00 chair massages to those employees who want one. You can get 20 minutes for $20 too. For a good while there, I would do this for myself. I'm almost constantly sore, and $20 a month really isn't much. Yes, it's a treat of sorts, but a healthy, helpful treat. I was in!

Now - I've given those up for the sake of our bank account, realizing that I can get 2 full body massages twice a year for the same price or less.

Hubby and I decided at the beginning of this year that we'd each get a small weekly cash "allowance" to do whatever we want with - a cup of coffee, a new shirt, whatever. This worked for awhile, but then I saw how detrimental taking out the cash ahead of time - and potentially not even spending it (or spending it on stupid stuff) - was to our account. So I decided I'd not take the cash each week. There's hardly anything I want "extra" each week - save for a Friday lunchtime trip to Starbucks. And that's certainly less than the cash allotment I'd previously had. So - I just don't take my Fun Money cash anymore, which helps out our budget (Hubby needs to be given his spending cash, so he knows full well when funds dry up and he has to wait for the next week to come around).

I had a haircut scheduled for myself earlier this month. I love my hairstylist! I've been to other places, but no one cuts my hair as good as she does. But she's expensive. So I cancelled the appointment, figuring I'll just deal, grow my hair for awhile, find a new way to style it, until we can afford the cut. I'll live without it.

Then I've told Hubby that, really, I don't want anything for my birthday next month. Let's go out to dinner then, I told him, but that's it. I don't need anything material. Besides, there's too many event-type things I hope to be able to do with the family and/or for myself this year. Being able to afford those activities means much, much more to me than getting a new book or knick knack. Honestly.

(FULL DISCLOSURE TIME: I had tears streaming down my face as I made this birthday declaration. No, I may not need anything or even know of anything I may simply want, but I sure do like to get presents. I always have. Hubby doesn't know about these tears. Will he read this? I don't know. Maybe).

I haven't gone on a coffee date with my friend in a long time. We used to go at least once a month - maybe more. And no coffee date = no seeing her at all. Coffee dates are our "thing". But I've decreed that we can't really afford for me to do this extra "thing" so often.

I've been sacrificing my own self-declared "silly" desires for the sake of our whole family financial well-being. Hubby works long, physically demanding days. He can certainly allow himself a coffee or two each week. He's also very talented with his woodworking. He should be able to get tools and products that will help him pursue this love of his, perhaps even allowing him to make sell-able things that could further help our finances in the end. You gotta spend money to make money, after all!

Even though I've completely brought this on myself. Even though I'm the one saying I personally can't afford to do or buy such and such for myself. No one is making me be so gosh-darn stingy. Just me. And you know what? Little by little, it's making me sad.

I'm the Mama. I take care of my family. I do what's best for all of us to live well and be happy. But in return, I'm not entirely happy. Satisfied enough, yes. I still don't really want anything material. And our finances are now and will continue to be a major factor in the purchase of things for all of us. But still, with everyone else around me getting little extras, I feel - at the very least - a wee bit left out of the fun.

And it's my own dang fault.

It's all a bit backwards, isn't it?

Coffee. I'll start with coffee. Set 'em up! A coffee date - straight ahead! Our activity schedule will allow for this to happen in a couple weeks. I'll just throw caution to the wind and decide right now that - come what may! - our financial schedule will allow for it as well.

All $5.00 of it or so. Ooooohhh! Big spender.

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