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Minimum income required?

April 2nd, 2006 at 05:50 am

On another board people were saying that it's very hard to have a nice life on $50k or less.

The median household income in the US (median means that exactly half make less and half make more) is $44k. So over half the households in the US are not living a nice life?

I just can't wrap my mind around that. We just now make $50k. This is the first time in our lives that we've had this much income. Yes, some years have sucked (the year that neither of us had jobs for 3 months and then moved 750 miles comes to mind). But for the most part, we've always had a good life.

We have more CC debt than I'd like. Most of it is from that year mentioned above, but we did have some before. So, technically we weren't living fully in our means. But, we've always had a positive net worth. If we had had to, we could have paid off all of our debt.

I told those people they were full of it. Half the people in the US are not living bad lives. Some people may be feeling that they don't have enough "stuff" but they have all their needs met.

I think it takes a lot of hubris to say that you HAVE to have more income than over half the nation to have a good life.

Terri Schaivo

April 1st, 2006 at 02:27 am

One year ago today, Terri Schaivo died.

One year ago Tuesday, I started working at my job. We still have clients tell us "I don't want to be like that" and we do a lot of Directives to Physicians.

This is such a simple document. And it doesn't have to be "right to die" as some call it. This document is about spelling out your wishes and it can be written however you like.

If you don't want to do the document - then at least have the conversation with your family. Make sure they are fully aware of your wishes. I've always known what my mom would like. My mom would like for assisted suicide to be available, she's even asked me to promise to allow her to drown herself in the tub if she gets like my grandma. When I was 12, I watched my mom and dad have to make the decision to allow my brother's body to die (he had no brain stem function).

My mom and dad are fully aware and supportive of my decision not to be kept alive through artificial means unless there is a very good chance (realistically) that I will recover. So is my husband.

I know it's a hard conversation to have, but you have to do it. Even if your decision is to be kept alive as long as possible, you have to tell your family.

You have to spend money to make money?

March 31st, 2006 at 05:02 am

Is this true?

I know our $20 challenge is about making money without spending much, but can we do it without spending anything? With using only what we have already?

This is where I'm getting hung up.
DH loves to teach. His working on weekends has been giving talks. They're part of his job, so he can't get paid for them, but it's something he likes and is good at. He wants to be an adjunct professor, but can't without a grad degree. This sucks.

I'm thinking that right now the only thing I could do that wouldn't require spending money is growing produce. And even then, I'd have to pay market fees to sell at the farmers' market (but I'm going to volunteer for their committee, so I'll see if I can get space for free or discounted).

DH also wants me to develop a market gardening talk. The only way our farmers' market is going to take off is to get small, "backyard", gardeners. The large scale operations are locked into contracts with wholesalers. And truthfully, the average backyard garden can produce enough produce to allow you to have a small retail stand. If we could get enough growers, and get them to branch out from tomatoes and peppers and go for diversity, we could have a great market. But people need to be taught.

Did I mention I suck at public speaking? That the thought of even calling in to a radio show leaves me in tears and shaking? Yeah.

Attorney Fees

March 25th, 2006 at 03:26 am

What are you paying for when you go to an attorney? His work or his knowledge.

We had a client come in today for advice on how to get her late husband's name off the deed of their house. It's been too long to probate (in TX you have to probate within 4 years of death) and there wasn't really an estate anyway.

The KNOWLEDGE my boss has is extensive. He's the smartest attorney I've ever worked with.

So, he knows exactly what she needs. She needs a document called an Affidavit of Heirship. He sends me in to get the information for the document while he takes care of an emergency client (I swear, we don't do criminal law, what is up with the clients with their "emergencies"?).

I take the information, go back to my desk, and 20 minutes later, it's done. I let my boss read it through, then sit on it for a couple of hours. I called her back and told her it was ready to pick up.

For that? We get $250. I'd say it took at total of 50 minutes (including the conference with her).

And the sad thing? If she had gone to another attorney she would have been charged at least $500.

So what are our clients paying for?

A little help from my friends

March 21st, 2006 at 05:09 am

Yesterday I noticed that my ash tree has webworms.

(image from

Today I noticed there were wasps hovering around the web. Being the curious person I am, I decided to go check out what they were doing.

It appeared they were looking for a way into the webs. So, I grabbed a stick and poked at the web a little.

It didn't take long. In minutes, there was a wasp crawling in the hole I had made. Boy those caterpillars were scrambling to fix their web.

That wasp walked around trying to grab caterpillars. They were dropping to the ground (where they will most likely die or be eaten by birds) and finally it grabbed one. It quickly stung the caterpillar 3-4 times (it was really fast, it looked like a muscle spasm) then bit it a few times and rolled it up. Then it grabbed it and flew off with it.

YAY!! In a few minutes, that wasp killed several webworms (which aren't that harmful in reality, just extremely unsightly) and I suspect it will be back. I'm pretty sure it was taking the caterpillar back to stuff in its nest to feed its developing larvae.

THIS is why I don't kill wasps. Wasps are predators of harmful insects. I do watch to be sure they aren't building nests in areas where we will disturb them. But if they're building a nest in a far corner of my eave - why mess with it?

Less than helpful was my neighbor's boyfriend. He decided my 3 inch grass needed to be weedeated and cut down my vine. The vine that dh and I had been carefully weeding around (it really was obvious). His excuse "I didn't know when you were going to cut the grass". It was 3 inches high. It was just now time to even consider cutting it. It's our yard! Stay off. Oh and his other excuse "I didn't see it". Yeah, I spoke with the previous owner and she told me you did the same thing last year. So, you just hate vines, right? You can't keep yourself off of other people's property? What?

I'd better not catch him spraying anything on my yard. We are organic and plan to stay that way.

It's Lent

March 2nd, 2006 at 06:03 am

I'm not catholic. I'm christian, but I don't specify beyond that (well, sometimes I will claim either UCC or Quaker), so I don't really observe lent.

However, it became a discussion at work today. We have 3 women who are practicing Catholic, 3 who were raised catholic but are no longer, and 3 who either aren't saying or have never been Catholic (I fall in this group).

The 3 catholics are, of course, giving something up for lent. The 2 who were raised catholic are considering it and 1 who isn't saying is considering it.

I hadn't really thought much about it. I am amused (so puerile) by all the fast food places and their "Lenten Combo specials" so that had caught my eye, but I hadn't really considered giving up anything for Lent.

Now I am. Not really for Lent, necessarily since my religious beliefs don't require that, but just because there will be lots of support and it seems like a good idea.

So, my thought are to give up soda (I only have it once/week now, so that shouldn't be too hard) and work on controlling my frustration at my kids. I'd also like to say no more big ticket purchases, but I know dh won't go for that.

Tough Day

February 25th, 2006 at 06:32 am

I'm losing control of my workload. I finally told both my bosses that I am so buried I'm not sure where I am at all. I haven't missed any deadlines, but there are things that need to be done that I haven't done.

MIL is coming tomorrow so DH is in power mode. We apparently have to unpack every single box he's been ignoring for 2 months. And along with that, I have to clean up all of his messes and the kids' messes.

I have to admit, I love the way the house looks. I just wish that dh wouldn't be such an ass to get it that way.

We decided we aren't going to the estate sale tomorrow. I'd rather get a little extra sleep and relax before MIL gets here. Plus, we just don't have the cash right now. We'll move the futon in here where we have our two office chairs and the barstools. Then we'll set up the airbed (has a frame and a memory foam pad) in the front room for her to use. I really wanted to get that set up tonight, but dh says he isn't ready to do it.

Paying extra on mortgage

February 20th, 2006 at 05:16 am

Okay, I just set up my amortization schedule for my house. I am currently paying about $15 extra. Paying $15 extra pays my house off 18 months early.

Doing the chart really shows me how much difference the extra really makes. It motivates me to send extra whenever I get the chance (after I pay off the other debt, right now anything extra we get is going to cc debt).

I'm soooo cold

February 19th, 2006 at 05:53 am

It's only 40s, which I know for many people sounds really warm for february, but for here, that's cold. Most of us don't even own heaters.

DS1 and I went to a bday party today. They had a bouncy tent set up and it was too cold for the kids to stay long. I felt so bad for the bday kid, only 2 kids from school were there. They invited the whole class (18 kids). Yes it was cold and it was at home rather than someplace "fun" but geez.

We took a stockpiled gift. DH loves to shop and that's one thing he's been stockpiling. So, when the party was at 3 and I realized it was 2:30, we were still good to go.

I feel somewhat bad for DS1 though, he put his pinata candy in his goody bag and I set it down and when it went back, someone else had picked it up. The parents were cool and gave him another goody bag and pulled out the bag of candy and gave him some more pieces (and then sent 2 extra goody bags with us for DS2 and just because).

Reining in the DH

February 17th, 2006 at 03:46 am

My husband's spending is getting out of control. He just can't resist a good deal. So far his good deals have cost us $300 this month (the porch swing and the dolphin tour certificates). Now he wants to buy bamboo rugs for our house, there's a coupon right now.

Now, he hasn't bought anything we wouldn't buy anyway but we had a plan - save and buy slowly.

Now, I'm not sure if we will even have the cash to go to the estate sale. Not to mention that his truck needs work (I think there's something wrong with the 4WD and the brakes decided not to work) so we have no way to haul anything back.

We need chairs for our house. We really have no place for people to sit. We have the futon and the dining room chairs, but until he gets his truck fixed, we can't carry furniture. I'm very frustrated by this.

If I remind him that we have plans to pay off the credit cards first and save up, then he feels deprived. He so needs to grow up.

How much money?

January 31st, 2006 at 12:18 am

This is a question that was posed on an online forum a few years ago: How much money would it take to change your life?

At the time, I said $80,000, that was enough to pay off all the bills we owed. Now it would take more like $100,000 (traded to a larger house and had a job loss/cross-country move in there).

But, I've been thinking. That would be less stress, for sure, but it wouldn't change my life. I'd keep my job, dh would keep his job, we'd just have more wiggle room for other things. But nothing would really change.

If I were to really change my life - radically alter the course, it would take at least $1million. That's the sum that would allow me to feel comfortable breaking completely away from what I do and learning something entirely new.

Don't get me wrong, I like my life. It's a pretty good life. I like my job, my co-workers, my house, the area we live, etc. But, I can't shake the feeling that there is something else I should be doing. I think I'm a radical without a cause. I just can't find a cause I can get behind.

DH, on the other hand, could change our whole life with $200,000. That is the sum that would have him comfortable enough to pack up lock, stock and barrel and move onto something entirely new.

I've been thinking about life. I know that I'm in a holding pattern. I admit I'm afraid I will stay there, but I'm afraid to try something new and fail. At heart, I'm a pessimist.

My goal this year is to work on finding what cause I want to devote energy to, to being more optimistic, to feeling like I can make a change and be happy. And to be more willing to take the risk.

I don't expect to come into money anytime soon, but it never hurts to have a plan and be ready.

How much money would it take to completely change your life?

Random thoughts

August 11th, 2005 at 08:33 pm

No money spent by me today. I have no idea what DH has spent. He seems to resent me tracking spending. He wants to buy things when he wants to buy them. He does search out the best deal and make sure he buys quality, but he doesn't want to give me the receipts, etc. Frustrating.

DH feels we have no control over money. We spend what we spend and that's all there is to it. It isn't worth giving up "things" in order to gain control over money. This, of course, is putting stress on our relationship. I think that if you don't control money, it controls you and we've spent a lot of years feeling very pinched and not getting medical/dental care when we needed it because "the money wasn't there". We had money to go out to eat once/week (usually places like Sam's where all 4 of us could eat for less than $10, but still) and money for cable and cable internet and cell phones and I could go on.

I was talking to a friend last night about my job. I work parttime while the kids are in school. It's great, the hours are good, the pay is better than I ever expected for a parttime job, the work is just challenging enough, but not so challenging I bring it home with me at night (physically or mentally). I mentioned that I could stay like this for years and be fine. She reminded me that when you do that, your pay often barely keeps up with inflation nevermind not keeping up with your increased skills. True. I know the people I work with have been there for 10-15 years and they're resenting their payscale. They don't want to look for a new job, but they want this job to "pay them what they're worth". It's a small office, there is no management ladder to climb, your job title you were hired at is your job title. So you don't see a promotion with a raise. It won't happen.

I told my friend that I understood that, but that I wasn't ambitious and that was fine.

Then I remembered a conversation we'd had about one of the 9/11 widows who was upset at the way she'd frittered her money. Some of our friends were really angry that she frittered it away, some were angry that she appeared to be trying to get sympathy for it, etc. I realized I was resentful that she felt the need to list the things she spent money on. I didn't need to know the details and knowing the details both annoyed me and pissed me off. She spent more money on one purse than I make in a week and more than I probably ever will make in a week. So there's some things I need to work out. I need to make my inner being realize that unless I become more ambitious, I'm not going to ever make enough to buy the luxury items some people buy as a matter of course and I need to let go of the resentment at the way they spend their money (but I do still feel that no one needs to talk about it).

I also realized that I have quite a bit of resentment towards people who inherited their money and make comments like "well, if they'd just work harder they could have money like me" and "well, I EARNED my money". Being born to a rich family does not mean you earned your money or that you worked hard for it. Being in a power position in a company may or may not mean you worked hard and deserved that position. I've seen way too many people who got a position strictly because they had the right connections. I've learned a lot over the past few years of job hunting and realized that it's 95% who you know as to whether you'll get a job. I never would have gotten my current job if it wasn't for my landlady. DH wouldn't have gotten his current job if it wasn't for a friend of his. We deserve our jobs, we have the skills to handle them, but we wouldn't have ever gotten past the interview (if we'd even gotten the interview) without knowing the right people. And that pisses me off a little. I've lost out on dream jobs because someone with more connections was given it. One job I knew for a fact the guy hired was NOT more qualified (it was someone I knew very well). America is absolutely not equal opportunity.

Looking back at that paragraph I realize it "reads" as more pissed than I am. I'm not "pissed" about it, more of a frustrated/what are you gonna do? type attitude. I have it in me to be somewhat of an activist, but I'm just enough pessimistic that I don't think anyone would take me seriously. I think the people who are in those positions are in deep denial about how they got the positions and they will never make changes. Until you can make people aware of inequities, the inequities will always exist. For me, I'm fine. I like my life. But I look around and see so many qualified people working in positions below them and seeing them chafe at the restrictions they face and it makes my heart hurt for them.

Alright, I'm making myself feel resentful, so time to walk away from that.

I finally got smart and shut the shades to the patio door. I don't know why I hadn't done it before. That sun room gets HOT and then heats up the rest of the house. I'll bet having the shades closed will make a huge difference. I'd shut the room off completely, but that's where the cat's bowl and litter pan "live". She has to be able to get to her stuff. We pay a lot in electricity, it's expensive here. I use about the same as I did at my old house and pay about 40% more. But, they say we'll get a credit on our October bill for some of what we spent this summer. Seems odd, you'd think they give you a credit over the spring and fall months to use towards winter and summer bills (since winter and summer bills are going to be higher than spring and fall). I budget $200 for my electric bill, but it hasn't gotten that high (yet). So in about October I'll see what it averaged out to and change my budget.

Okay, this is way too long, time to stop and save something for the next few days.

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