Tag Archives: budget

Some things get better – right?

50 for molly3

Part of an ongoing-but-irregular countdown to 50.

75. Everyone talks about how things start to get more difficult as you age: losing weight, exercising, reading without glasses, finding your car keys, remembering just why it is you walked into a room or opened a closet door. I get all those – and fully agree with all of them.

But there are a few things I really hope get easier as we age.

  • Budgeting money – I’ve never been a financial whiz, to be sure, but learning to live on a budget – and to say “no” to myself – has become a priority to me since my divorce 15 years ago.┬áPart of it comes from the fact that until three years ago, I didn’t have any credit cards – we gave them up as part of the divorce proceeding (never mind) and I never got another one until recently. Truly living on what you have is an eye-opening experience. I’ll admit to splurging a bit when I finally did break down and get a card, but I’ve tempered that part of my brain with the, “but if we save we can go places!” philosophy (Ireland, here I come!). So far, so good. It’s still tight, I still cut things out of my budget to make room for other things, but, as they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
  • Budgeting time – This one comes a bit harder to me. It’s no secret that I tend to spread myself a bit too thin (that came up twice in my performance review at work) and – more times than I’d like – I run late to personal events and outings. I think one of the reasons I don’t go to a lot of movies is because I worry about being late. Mostly because I usually am.
  • Dating – While this will certainly make a best-selling book someday, dating in my 40s was … interesting. There were a few relationships and an awful lot of awful lines from potential suitors (“I’m getting tired of the five-knuckle shuffle” or “Like most redheads I bet your [sic] built like a brick house”) or from those who I actually went out with (remember the gross, “I’d like to put my skin boat in your tuna chute”? Still makes my skin crawl.). I swear I’m hearing more bad come-ons now than I did before I was married.
  • Living – This one definitely gets better with age, at least I think so. I gave up home ownership seven years ago and really, really like renting – the idea of someone else picking up the tab when the water heater dies, or the air conditioning goes out is quite appealing. And right now I’m in the middle of another transition – moving from a building where I’m kind of embarrassed to have first-time guests visit – the smell of marijuana is overpowering, litter in the yard is off-putting, the broken front door and burned-out hall lights slum-looking – to a secure building where, theoretically, “shit gets done.” Living better to me also means enjoying life, being happy – you never know when you won’t get another tomorrow, so enjoy today. That’s what I try to do. Live with no regrets.
  • Finally figuring out why I really did go into that room – Yeah, I doubt I’ll figure that one out, either.
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It’s not a vacation until someone pulls their hair out …

frazzled-lady1In just under three hours I leave my office behind and take off for what could be a glorious, sunny 10-day (well, 11-day) vacation.

It could be glorious, but I’m betting there will be more stress than glory.

During my time off I’ll be spending two days at freshmen orientation at an unnamed university in Ames; purchasing buns, pop, water, plates, silverware, napkins, beans and decorations for a graduation party; decorating, hosting and tearing down said graduation party; conducting 3-4 interviews (yes, it’s work, but it has to be done); and writing a story (see previous duty). Yes, my head IS spinning.

I’ve known this party was coming for almost a year. I’ve had the date set since I reserved the pavilion last August, and I think I put out the initial Facebook invitations to family back in February or March. You’d think that would give me time to be organized.

You’d think so, but you’d be wrong.

Organization has never been my strong point. I put important – and some seemingly not-so-important – reminders on my phone so I don’t forget. Like my daughter’s graduation ceremony. My weekly meetings. A reminder to take my anxiety medications (yeah, you’d think that’s one reminder I wouldn’t need, right? Wrong.) When to tune in to watch “Master Chef” or “Hell’s Kitchen.” I get reminders 15 minutes before each event, just in case.

Apparently I need to add tasks, like, “Buy the buns for daughter’s graduation party three months from now,” or, “Make decorations for graduation party so all you have to do is put them up.”

I always find myself in this exact spot – wishing I could turn back time and do things better, be more organized, get prepared earlier.

My one defense is finances: As a single mom on a budget, with a once-a-month paycheck and no credit cards (I gave them up during the divorce), buying “extras” isn’t always easy, especially when there are plenty of “extras” that seem to come up: oil changes, registration tags, parking tickets (hey, they’re pretty pricey at the hospital where I work!), birthdays, drinks with friends … you get the picture. Budgeting is also not one of my strongest points, but that’s another blog post.

A second, smaller defense I have is space: Teen Girl and I live in a modest two-bedroom apartment with limited storage space – and two giant dogs. Keeping 12 12-packs of pop or 35 packages of buns on hand is no small feat, and could result in loss of space for dishes or cooking or sleeping or showering or any combination thereof.

Defenses aside, here I am. Eight days from now I will be hoping everything is put together and the rains don’t fall and the skies are blue and the burgers and brats and beans and potato salad and cupcakes and mints feed the masses. I just hope I haven’t pulled all of my hair out by then.

 

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