Trent at the Simple Dollar posted a while back on Twenty Questions to ask yourself. These are my answers to some. Some I may post later, some I might not ever do. I recommend you read the post and answer the questions for yourself. It is enlightening.
1. What five things do you most truly love doing? Think of things that you both enjoy in the moment and also enjoy looking back on later. Do any of these cost money?
I enjoy sewing, cooking, gardening, painting, and playing with the dogs. Most of these cost money. Sewing costs money to buy the fabric and notions. Cooking- need the good pots and pans and ingredients. Gardening- seeds and seedlings, fertilizer, water. Painting- theatrical painting would cost me the most, if I chose to pursue it, mostly because it would translate into wages lost, not earned or spent. Playing with the dogs- only costs money if I lose the tennis ball.
2.What five things that you do regularly do you truly hate doing? You hate thinking about them and doing them in every way. Are these in any way worth the reward you get for doing them?
Cleaning the house, doing the dishes, maintaining the car, commuting, cant think of a fifth. Cleaning the house, washing dishes, and maintaining the car are all worth the rewards. I like a clean house and not having to wash a pot just to make macaroni. I think it just becomes so overwhelming that I hate having to do it all at once. I hate the waiting that is involved in maintaining my car- waiting to get my tires changed over, waiting to get my oil changed. I can’t do these things on my own, because my car is too low to change the oil (cant get it on the ramps) and we only have one set of rims. I wish someone would just take the car and do it for me. But a well maintained car lasts longer. Commuting- this is a catch 22. By commuting, I can earn more money by widening my prospects for a job, but that commute also costs me money. I hate the traffic and the driving and the long seemingly endless and boring stretch. I don’t know if it is worth the reward.
3. What things are preventing you from doing more of the things you love and less of the things you hate? How can you remove those obstacles?
Money. The inability to pay the bills if I take a lower paying job. Not being home prevents most of them, since I don’t have the time to put into them that I would if I wasn’t working. We can hopefully remove these obstacles once Alann can work full-time.
4. When was the last time you felt guilty about an expenditure? Why did you feel guilty about it? I feel guilty if I feel like I spend too much money at the grocery store- either for work or for personal. Work I can’t do too much about. They want the brand name items. I don’t have much say there. The best I can do is find the cheapest place to buy those items. At home, I know that spending too much this time doesn’t mean I will spend less next time. Next time I will spend too much again. The first category I increase in the budget when we can is food, because we like food. And we like healthy food, which means more expense.
5. What would you do if you went to work tomorrow and your boss handed you a pink slip? Get as specific as you possibly can. What could you do right now to make that less of a shock?
Cry. Beg and plead. Promise to do better. Take on even more responsibilities, agree to take a pay cut. Then if that doesn’t work, start looking again. Not having a job is rather anxious for me. To make it less of a shock, I could increase my education in useful areas, increase our saving, pay down our debt.
6. What five people (besides yourself) do you care for most in the world? Do they know this? What could you do to show them that you feel this way? Does your reaction involve money? Does it need to involve money?
Alann, Mom, Amy, Teene, Debbie and Mark. I hope they do. I try to be attentive to birthdays. I should probably call more and talk to them more often. My reaction doesn’t involve money and it doesn’t have to. Money is not the end all be all of love.
7. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt powerless about your spending, almost as if something else was in control of it? Why did you feel that way? What do you feel was driving that spending?
Yes I did feel powerless. When I was working my second job, my spending increased accordingly. I felt entitled, and to be honest, I was probably exhausted, and not making accurate or reliable decisions. I also had so little time to do anything, that for some reason I made up for it by buying stuff.
8. Can you think of five ways you attempted to control your spending? Did they work or not? If they didn’t, can you remember the exact moment when you realized you were losing that battle?
I have done several things. I wrote no on my credit card, as a reminder not to use it. When that failed, I put it in the freezer. That stopped the use of that card, but I started spending on my other credit card. Then I finally paid off Capital One, and designated it for reimbursed expenses only, and I have stopped using it. Now I am using the cushion in my joint account to purchase what I can’t afford yet. I always pay that back though. I have tried a budget and an allowance, neither of which really work. It is an ever evolving dance with my money. My spending never seems to decrease, it just shifts. I think I am starting to get better about this. We shall see.
9. Do you remember a time in your life where you weren’t concerned about money? What specifically changed between then and now? Is the difference between the two mostly “stuff”?
I am less concerned now about the abundance or absence of money than I have been, but my income has increased, and I have recognized the many times that things “worked out”. I don’t negate the blessing I am receiving by wild spending, but I know that things will work out if I am careful. I wasn’t terribly concerned about money in college either. I wasn’t out spending, but it was very easy to not spend. Everything I needed was provided- food, shelter, phone, work. It was the intermediate period between getting married and changing jobs, that 3 years or so, that I really worried about money all the time. The difference isn’t stuff. I do have a lot of stuff that I wanted in that anxious period, so maybe it is stuff. But I am still paying for all that darn stuff, so I don’t forget about it.
10. Can you name all of the individuals and organizations that you owe money to, and roughly how much you owe and what the interest is? Which one is dragging on you the most? Why does it drag on you?
Yes I can. Grandma, student loans, car, mortgages, credit cards, utility companies. The one to Grandma really bugs me the most. I want to repay her. I want her to know that I want to repay her. But for some reason, I have a really hard time bringing it up. She made it very clear that it was a loan when she gave me the money (it was for college), and that I would owe her when I graduated, but she has never brought it up since. After that the credit cards, then the second mortgage, then the car, then the student loans, then the first mortgage.
18. When was the last time you bought something primarily to impress someone else? Did it work? Did you ever buy anything to impress someone and had it completely fail to work?
I guess my last “impressing” purchase was my new dress. I bought it for several reasons. I have wanted a new dress for a while, I only have a few, and I wanted to get something nice for Craig’s wedding. It isn’t really to impress anyone, just to look nice on an important day, plus I can wear it many many times elsewhere too. I don’t really buy items to impress other people. I just don’t care that much. I might buy new shoes or clothes to improve my looks, but usually only when the old items have become completely unserviceable and inappropriate. I had to buy “grown-up” clothes when I started working at Granite, because I literally had no professional clothes. I bought some more (with gift cards) when I started at Vérité because it matters a little more if I look good here.
19. When was the last time you bought something that was completely unnecessary? When you look back on it, do you feel happy about that purchase? Do you feel happy about earlier frivolous purchases? If some make you feel happy and others don’t, what’s the difference between the two groups?
I bought some chicken and roast when they were on sale. They were not necessary purchases, we had enough, but it was a really good sale and I could not let it go. I am fairly happy about the purchase. It will feed us for quite a while. We don’t buy very much meat, so finding some at a good price is imperative. Our freezer gets so empty and sad.
Other frivolous purchases might include stuff for my garden or my car. I don’t tend to buy many things that aren’t planned anymore. The purchases that make me happiest are usually the ones that I have put off for a while, that I have contemplated significantly, so I really enjoy them, and they tend to make my life easier. That is where I usually make “unnecessary” purchases- with the convenience items. I bought a bread-maker and a canning pot (from the DI for $15 total), neither of which I “NEED”, but which make my life a little easier. The canning pot will hopefully come in useful this summer if our garden works out like I am hoping. The bread maker I use to mix and knead my 100% whole wheat bread, so that I only have to knead it for 10 minutes instead of 30.
20. When you sit down and send out your bills for the month, are you left feeling good or bad after doing this task? Why? Is there anything you can do to change that perspective?
I think that I enjoy paying my bills, as much as anyone can. I know and understand that I have indeed incurred these charges, and I need to pay them. I like paying them on time. It gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I am being true to my word (after all I agreed to pay them), and that I can do this one thing to help improve our credit.