Spending Money I Don’t Have

I just can’t keep waking up feeling like this. Every morning I wake up feeling like I used to when I was lifting heavy every day. It’s mainly my back, and secondarily my butt and legs. I am yawning as I type this. The solution that has sprung to mind is to replace my 14 year old mattress. I’ve hated it since we bought it, it’s too dang soft. But since I really can’t afford a new, quality mattress, I am going to spend the money on a memory foam topper to see if that helps. If it doesn’t, then I am going to lay it directly on the box springs to see how that goes. If it is better, then I will most likely take the plunge and by the 4 inch topper to combine with the 2 inch I am going to buy today and just use that as a replacement.

I really don’t want to spend the money, considering how desperately I want to free myself from the rat race. I have determined that my greatest chance of success in this endeavor will be to be able to live on half of what I make now. That means paying off all the debt that I can, and the sooner the better. Same goes for retirement, I have realized that I don’t have a truly actionable plan in place to retire (whatever that word means), and I have accepted that it will not happen unintentionally, so I must begin saving toward that goal and putting into place systems that support that goal. This brings me back to seriously reduced spending.

But I would rather be happy and at peace than free. I don’t think that is possible for the type of person I am, I need to be free to be happy, but my point remains. I can’t focus on doing the hard thing if I am lacking the resolve or mental fortitude to do the hard thing, to make the hard choices, or to do proper analysis of situations and opportunities that may arise. Waking up feeling well rested goes a long way toward keeping my mind strong and agile. I also need to be physically refreshed to continue vegetable gardening and planting trees for food as well as shade (lower electric bills dontcha know). Hence a new mattress of some sort seems to be a necessity. I might as well do it now as opposed to later, since everything is getting more expensive, and pay increases are becoming a joke – borderline insulting even. Invest in any assets or personal property now if you can, and get something that is going to really last so you can push off replacing it as long as possible.

GETTING AHEAD OF THE CURVE – MAKING PROGRESS: LAUNDRY

As I stated in “The Challenges of Getting Ahead of the Curve”, there are just too many moving parts to keep up with for the paltry two days you get for doing everything that needs attention. Not to mention how much more so if you are actually trying to make some kind of significant change to your lifestyle. Nevertheless, there is no excuse to give up. You must keep chipping away, like Andy with his rock hammer in “Shawshank Redemption”. Eventually some progress can be realized, although it is often after changing the way we look at things. I think a critical change that must take place to accomplish this is to stop caring what other people think. The Bible would say do not fear the opinions of man.

Along that line of thinking I have implemented a way of doing things that my grandfather (pop) brought to my attention when I was like 12. This past weekend I was looking at my new pair of 501 Levis (they are worth the money because they really last) and something printed on one of the tags caught my eye. It said “ Wash Less, wash cold”, which reminded me of the lesson my pop had tried to convey to me so long ago. Every day when he got home from work he would immediately change out of his clothes and hang them up to be re-worn another time.

I’ve been doing that very thing for a couple of months now, but rather than rotating out my slacks, I merely re-wear the same pair each day and wash on the weekend if I have enough for a load, or leave them in the hamper and start the week with a new pair of slacks. I’ve also started doing it with my work shirts. It is always freezing at work so I never ever break a sweat, plus I wear a short sleeved t-shirt underneath my shirt so it is basically clean. I currently wear each one 3 times before washing. After a little more research I have discovered that denim should be rarely washed at all. Just freeze for 24 hours to kill any germs or bacteria. This won’t work with the jeans I wear when working in the yard, but other than that…

This practice is going to be even more important now that I am in full stride toward minimalism. I won’t have enough slacks or dress shirts to wear a new one each and every day. So now I have just freed up more time on the weekend, reduced the amount of electricity and water used (and money spent) for doing laundry by doing laundry less frequently, and my clothes should last longer thereby stretching my clothing budget some. More free time, less money spent, and smaller carbon footprint. Win win win.

As a side note, I also found a work shirt (which is actually a sweater) that I like so much I have bought two more – I now have a charcoal, a navy, and a plum. I no longer need to spend as much time in the morning deciding what to wear, I just don’t have that many options now. That’s ok with me, I don’t fit in nor belong in the corporate environment anyway. It’s not like I was ever going impress anybody. I also threw away an older pair of slacks that I wore all of last week but are too big, and I’ve kept around “just in case”. I did not wash them first, just took them off and pitched them. I feel like I am making progress; I feel good.

Resilience efforts de jour, 3/30/15. Sometimes you have to do it exhausted.

After working 10 hours at work on a Monday – the start of a week where corporate politics has crapped all over everyone’s good mood and job security – I came home, cooked dinner, and kicked up my feet to watch a documentary (Farmageddon)  with my first born before heading off to an early bedtime.  I knew she only had about 30 minutes of watching before she had to take off to go exercise with some friends, but that was cool because I figured she wouldn’t be that into it anyway.  She was digging it and as she was leaving she said she was going to finish watching it this week.  I settled in to watch the rest before going to bed, but after about 10 more minutes I was so disgusted with the way of things in this society, and the drive to free myself from my shackles was so great, that I got up and went outside to dig and plant even though it was getting dark.  I planted another tomato plant and some snap peas.  It wasn’t much but it was something.

If I’m not going to do it tired, then it might not get done at all.  I am so over being dependent on the way things are.  It’s exit strategy time.

Overwhelmed

So I was talking to my mom when she asked me if I’d gotten in contact with a lead I was given about a new job. I told her I hadn’t and that it was because I have been struggling trying to find time to work on my resume. Work is insane, and the traffic is getting worse so the commute is getting longer. By the time I get home I am spent. To kick my brain into high gear again once I’ve gotten home, cooked dinner, helped with homework, listened to problems, and taken a shower is more than I am able to do. On top of that I have to get my sleep because I’m no spring chicken and my bills are more than my paycheck without overtime, so overtime is a must. I go in early rather than stay late because the kids don’t miss me when they’re asleep.

She made the comment that she worries that I am trying to do too much. Well I am, no doubt, but some of it is required (laundry, dishes, yard work), and some of it is important (garden). So I gave her the rundown on why doing the garden and some of the other things are important.

Thing is, even though all of my points are valid, she too may have a point – perhaps even a stronger point. Maybe what I am doing is unsustainable. I mean, I know it is, but how do you decide what to give up? Not only do I have a garden, but there are some plants inside the house that require maintenance as well. Do those things need to go? It’s not that watering them takes so long per se, but there is the monitoring to see if they need watering, remembering to monitor them, pruning, making sure they are getting enough sun, etc. There are other things that could be lumped into this category as well I’m sure.

It has become obvious this year that sustainability and resilience requires more than one person, unless you are in a very minimalist situation. When you are a single dad being that minimalist isn’t really an option; there is a lot that is required just to be a decent father. But I have always been a great father, and want to continue as such. The relationship and trust I have with my kids is priceless.

So what do I do? Stop gardening? My health and the health of my kids are at stake and that is something that is with us for as long as we inhabit this earth. Am I paranoid, thinking that the food I get from the store is really that bad? Maybe only time will tell. But what about the increasing cost in food, and the exponential cost that is looming because of the severe drought conditions we are experiencing that no one is talking about? What happens when the unavoidable increase in taxation teams up with rising food costs? Not try to find ways to increase the efficiencies in my household and make a smaller eco-footprint ala: reuse, repurpose, recycle? Should I not plant trees in my yard that will provide shade, wind protection, and yearly fruit production (I haven’t yet but it is on the ‘really, really need to do’ list)? Should I stop trying to better insulate and shade my house to lower my electric bills? That saves me money (as well as keeps us more comfortable because the a/c alone is not sufficient for our house), and as inflation keeps grinding away at a rate far higher than what the “official” numbers are, that seems to be more and more important as time goes on. Should I just say “screw it “, join the zombie sheeple status quo, and ignore the state of our environment and what is contributing to its change, as well as to what kind of future that leaves for my kids?

I am a firm believer that at times we must dramatically lower our standards in order to keep our head above water, I get that. At the same time, you must make sure that you don’t fall into the trap that so many people do who get a raise, in that an expense always seems to be taken on that absorbs the extra money (now coming in). If I drop my garden or (shudder) get rid of my 2 surviving bonsai trees, will I still find myself facing the same shortage of time? My bonsai make my eyes happy when I look at them. If I give them up and don’t experience relief, then I am actually worse off because I have given up a desire of my heart (beauty) and gotten nothing in return. I’ll really need to ponder this.

I have been told “have the kids help more. When I was a kid…blah blah blah”. Yeah, me too. But that was a different time, and maybe 15 years ago you did make your kids do more too. But that was then, and it was a different time. I bet you didn’t make them do as much as you did when you were a kid, or even as much as you think you remember making them do. It is extremely difficult – on many levels – to make a kid that is already doing chores do more, when the entire society around them is doing no chores at all. When their peers are required to do nothing while your kid is taking an extremely heavy course load in order to graduate a year early, and working part time so that they can not only buy their own gas, but their own shampoo, make up and feminine products, more should be demanded?? Not only is it an uphill battle which takes more of the sacred, precious time than just doing it yourself, you (I) feel like a crummy father because they have to pick up the slack financially. “It’s good for them, they’ll be better off because of it”. Maybe, and maybe that’s bulls***. Don’t misunderstand, I do believe that doing chores and being responsible are very important in building character and preparing young people to become contributing members of the community. But they are also missing out on the experiences their friends are having which is making them different, and in the case of the teenager robbing them of the opportunity to form strong social/community/networking bonds which are going to vital as the future draws near. They are already struggling to deal with the emotional trauma they are experiencing because of the divorce. The death of an innocence, something that they never in a million years gave a second thought about not being as solid as the rock of Gibraltar suddenly crumbles right out from under them with no warning. “That’s right darling, you can’t count on anything being safe, and as an added bonus you get to do more work, carry a heavier burden than all of your peers, and do without more things and experiences than them.”

Oops, sorry. Is my cynicism showing? Better be careful, I want to progress, not digress.

Man going it alone is hard.

OPT OUT

02/01/13

Secede as an individual. Quit supporting the corporate mindset that you so despise and which is stealing your wealth, free time, family time, and quality of life. Disempower the systems that are oppressing you. Empower yourself. Be resilient, not dependant. Without even realizing it we support and enforce our own slavery/oppression. We actively participate in keeping the systems that make us miserable going. We are miserable and we facilitate it. Lead your own life! Don’t get me wrong, I think you should absolutely support those advancing the causes you believe in, but don’t stop there. Use some of that support to make a difference yourself. Think about the kind of person it took to shape and tame this country. You are born of that stock, those were your ancestors. You have that same blood in you.

We need to support things that matter. We need to support things that add value to our lives on the individual (personal) level. We need to support things that will support us.

02/01/13 ACTION

– Bought 5 ounces of silver from the TSPMint which just came online. I didn’t really need more silver at this point, but they are working in conjunction with AOCS and I wanted to show my support for both TSP and AOCS. I want to enable them to keep getting the message out.