Monday, March 30, 2015

What is your Normal?

Yesterday I wrote a 'kick in the pants' sort of post specifically about prioritizing ones purchases in order to follow one's dreams. In truth, I'm finally at a place in my life where my purchases are pretty well prioritized. It took a long time to get here but I am now. We hardly ever eat out any more. I hardly ever buy luxury food items. I try to buy most things on sale and cook from scratch as much as I can. I really don't buy clothes or much 'stuff' for that matter. I'm an absolute cheapskate when it comes to gift giving (this not something I'm proud of as gift giving is probably my strongest love language). We can't afford to spend $20 or even $10 on every gift we buy for every friend and family member all throughout the year... we're talking over 40 gifts for immediate family with birthdays and Christmas. I consider immediate family, mom's and dad's, brothers and sisters, and their kiddos (my nieces and nephews). Those 40+ gifts don't include all the little kid birthday parties we get invited to every year.

Anyway, I've learned to prioritize my spending. But I have been thinking since yesterday's post, "what is my normal?" There has to be something, or even a lot of somethings that I fall into the trap of doing just because that's what you do. Yesterday I wrote about a young man, out of high school who lives rent free with his folks, who has a job and yet constantly complains about not being able to afford to travel. He spends all the money he makes. Of course he can't travel if he's always spending his money but he chooses to spend all of his money. It's not lack of finances that cause him to not be able to pursue his dream of travel but rather poor choices. Only to him they don't seem like "poor choices." He's just being normal. I guess in his mind, when he complains about not being able to travel, he's really asking, "why can't I live a normal life and still be able to travel?" He doesn't see the "normal" as getting in the way of his dreams. He sees "financial lack" as getting in the way.

So what's my normal? What's your normal? I thought about it a good deal and I think I've come up with somethings that I haven't been looking at the right way because, by golly they are normal.

I chose to work part time after my kiddo was born. I'd dreamed of being a stay at home mom all my life and ten years into my marriage when we finally had a baby I could not financially afford to be a stay at home mom but we were in the place that I could work part time (and actually I was finding it down right impossible to raise my kid, take care of my home, and maintain my sanity while working 40 hours with a commute). Did that mean putting a huge halt on the debt payoff progress? Yes. Did that mean making a bunch more sacrifices financially? Yes. But working less and being home more was worth more than a million dollars to me so I chose to go part time.

But here's my normal: I work part time so I can be home with my son. That means we will always be financially strapped. You know, I've been believing that for a good long time now. It seems like we always go a bit over budget by the end of every month (meaning the outgoing is more than the incoming). I struggle and struggle and struggle to catch back up with just the everyday bills and then when it comes to debt payoff, which is still a HUGE desire in my head and heart, I can only ever pay minimums. This is normal though. All of my friends who are stay at home moms live pay check to pay check and have to sometimes feed their kids tomato sandwiches because they're out of money for food. You either work full time and can afford stuff or you stay home with your kids and have to pinch pennies to try and get them to multiply.

I don't want to be normal though. I don't think anyone has to be if they choose otherwise. So, here's what I came up with. I can still work part time, be home with my kid, but get our heads further above water and get back to paying down the debt. There's no reason I should just resign to living here, in normalville.
- If I work a little bit more then technically the budget should balance at the end of the month. If I am more efficient with my time at home there's no reason at least for now I can't work 3 or 4 more hours a week. That would not be overkill.
- If I actually sell some things around this house we'd be able to pay the debt down so much quicker AND would have more wiggle room in the budget (we have a good deal of nice antiques that we've inherited that we could part with if I can convince my husband they'd be worth more to us in cash form <- this one rests heavily on my hubby though because he's the one who inherited them all).
- If I do a few more photo shoots for people (duh) that'll be extra income and little Abe can come on photo shoots with me. I've done a good deal of them but this is a sad, lack of confidence area for me. Buck up buckeroo and use what you've been given, right.
- And I really truly feel I could always spend less. I've gotten my spending down, down, down over the past several years but I think I could get it lower AND I can try my darndest to get my husband to spend a bit less too. Little by little he's joining in this whole "fiscally responsible silliness."

The other normal is time: there's just not enough time. But that's a silly joke because, once again, I log into facebook. I scroll through the feed. I leave a comment on a status or a photo and then, oh look, 30 minutes is gone and I seriously didn't do anything. I don't even play facebook games. I don't hardly ever click on links or go snooping on people's profiles but that darn site gobbles up time like you would not believe for me. If I could just make myself log in once a day at the max then the normal "there's not enough time in the day" would get a big kick in the teeth.

Those are my most apparent pit stops in normalville. But I'm not okay with them. I really do want to get on my way, get out of normal, and live bigger. I'm not okay with being normal.

What's your normal? Do you want to break out of it?

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.03
$0 left to spend in March


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  1. That one really took me awhile....I think my "normal" was trying to keep up with the Jones' - we live in a city in Northern California with VERY high incomes from people in the Bay Area moving here. We are NOT one of those families, we have a very nice income that we can live just fine on, even with me not working, if we just stop caring what everyone else has/thinks/does.

    It is my choice not to work and, thankfully, my husband is ok with it so I feel like it is my responsibility to save the money which I have been DREADFUL at - as you know I have an issue with eating out. If I want to continue to stay home, make home repairs, take vacations, AND save for retirement in 10 years I HAVE to make more changes - time is the one thing I DO have....I WILL start hanging clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer, I WILL make meals at home instead of going out - now I need to sit down and make a list of more I can do!!! We can do this together!!!!

  2. We have not reached our normal yet. Things seem to change all the time, so normal may be more organic for me - the ever changing. I would say the only normal is our budgeting and we pretty much stick to it. Paying off debt though ebbs and flows. We travel, minimally, we eat out on occasion, we splurge every now and then, we save a ton, we live. It is our "normal" now. However, when the kids are gone, it will be a drastically different normal.

  3. My normal is being a full time parent and working full time. I've always managed both successfully I think. It's important to me to have a life separate from my children because my mom never did and was very resentful to us.

    Regarding the young man who didn't have the money to travel, I think its just his mindset. I was the same way when I was young. I did travel but it was hard to save more than a few thousand because things always came up. It is much easier to go out with friends and spend money than to save up for something big like an international vacation.