Monday, May 28, 2012

The years go by.

I only have fourteen more years where I have "control" over making decisions for Shanna. What was I doing fourteen years ago? I was sixteen. I was a high school drop out. I worked full time at Ross Dress for Less and my mother took my paychecks. I only had access to $20/week. To buy all of the food I didn't get from the kitchen at home. My mom said my paycheck didn't really even cover my room and board so she was being generous. At the beginning of June my mother wasn't getting any child support for me any more. My father obviously wasn't paying it while he was waiting for the trial. For some reason me saying, "I'm not interested in being raped" means my father doesn't have to support me any more. Fair enough. I worked because I wanted to eat. I wanted to have my own room because all of the people I lived with looked at me like I was a dirty and disgusting person because I lied and claimed my father had sex with me. No one believed me. They were angry with me for making up lies. Rent on a room was $500. Auntie had to survive and pay the bills somehow.

So I worked full time. I made $6.00/hour. I had no benefits. I worked 40 hours/week, often with overtime even though I technically wasn't legally allowed to do so. I reliably made just over $1,000/month. I was given a $20 bill every week. My room was half of my paycheck. My food took the other half. My mom was generous. I did not have a social life that cost money. Bus fare ate into that $20 quickly. I sat at home and read the same books over and over. I watched the same movies. How could I not be a geek fangirl? I watched Hackers hundreds of times.

My daughter is going to have a very different life. I cannot imagine what she will be like in fourteen years. I have no idea. I'm scared to death. I don't think I could have imagined where I am now. Now when I think about figuring out money I'm working on a different scale. It's a lot harder and more complicated. I'm learning a lot about planning. I think this is good for me.

Many years ago my brother told me that my insurance settlement gave me a mindset difference. He told me that whereas I could be broke I would never be poor again. I think he is right. There is some crucial jump that most people never make. How do I prepare for an unknowable future? It's complicated. I don't feel like I know.

But I know it will involve living on less money. And then less money again. And then less money again. Unfortunately, $60 for a mixer is still... $60. When I shouldn't be spending any money I shouldn't be spending $60.

What do we actually need? We need food. I make a lot from scratch. We still get a meal a week mostly from food I grew last year. That's pretty cool to me. We are eating out less and less. I have downgraded our food in a variety of ways already. I've cut at least $200/month on food and I need to cut a bit more than that. I no longer buy raw milk. Noah is lactose intolerant and the difference he experiences is dramatic. Nevertheless at $16/gallon... that's a luxury we can't afford right now. We used to buy a quart a week. Now we go through more than a gallon a week because the girls like to drink milk. And I'm cooking with milk more. Things change.

It is interesting to examine where and how I make decisions. If Noah really manages to start going on a business he is going to need someone else to handle money. It's just not his strong suit.

I feel like I am trying to learn how to actually get shit done with a certain amount of money. What does that mean? How do you handle shifting priorities? We will never run out of things we would like to pay for (the mixer is really a metaphor) and how do we handle that?

It means I have to think about how much labor I can accomplish with my body. If I can buy a season pass at the local water park (we can walk to it) or a mixer... I'm buying the season pass. It is incentive for me to walk 5 miles multiple times a week pulling the wagon. I'm going to be so fucking buff. And if I decide to be brave and start trying to make bread I will have to learn how to do it by hand. Oh god nooooooooo the horrorrrrrrr.

What things are more like needs and what things are more like "enh I'd have slightly fewer excuses for being lazy if I had ________ expensive tool". Thing is, in my experience, having the tool doesn't cause the work to magically happen. If I want to make cookies I make cookies. I don't need a mixer. Not having it causes me to build up strength in my arms. How is not having a mixer a bad thing? Oh. It means I say, "Well making bread would be a lot easier." I used to have a mixer. I didn't make bread. I made cookies and cakes. I still do that by hand. Yeah.

If you "save money" by buying a cheaper version of something you don't need... you haven't saved any money. You have spent money you didn't need to spend. I may not have taken any accounting classes or business classes or whatever. I took maths. I can add and subtract. is a really fucking awesome website. I can't lie about spending money. It is all tracked. I even parcel out my cash spending.

Right now I need to try to remember what it is like to live as if I have no money. If I am lucky I will never get back to the point where it is actually true. If I pretend it is true and live like it is true I am more likely to survive longer. I will have a buffer. I come from a long line of hearty peasant stock. I need to remember what it is like to walk and carry things by hand because that is what I have the money to do. Cars are expensive to operate. Right now I'm thinking about trying to live without it for the sake of saving money. I have certainly had times in my life where we simply didn't have a car.

I'm trying to not feel weird about walking. I have a lot of weird internal dialogue about it. Here walking to the store is a conspicuously low class activity. No wonder my neighbors think we are poor. I've had people say I can come over and watch tv at their house. Uhh, no thanks. I don't have a television because I don't enjoy watching one.

It's an entire culture I don't share. It's weird. I don't watch very many movies either. People don't know what to talk to me about. Random people I meet. I don't think I'm the only socially awkward person. Uhm, obviously if you slog through all this shit I write you would probably be able to find something to talk to me about. I reallllllllly like all twenty or so of you. Ha.

Sometimes when I write I am kind of mentally addressing Noah and sometimes I have a specific person I think about. Not very many people have told me they read my blog. A number of people have told me adamantly that they don't. I like talking to them the most. It's extremely passive aggressive of me. I am going to hell.

And the kids came in. No more babbling today. I had fun though. I don't know why I enjoy doing this so much. Thank you all twenty-ish of you.

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