Things that Annoy Me

I am really trying to keep my posts positive, or at least balanced.  Most people probably aren’t fond of reading about someone else’s problems day in and day out. With that said, sometimes you just gotta let loose.

Here are some things that are just driving me frickin’ nuts:

-Web articles that function as slide shows – one paragraph per page, 15 pages

-People who don’t reply to emails or phone calls

-Co-workers who assume I care  about their problems with no concern for mine

-Slow Internet. Seriously? In this day and age?

-Having to “do it all” – parenting, working, managing the household, etc.

-Having to ask my husband to do the same things day after day, week after week, year after year

-Christmas shopping

-Co-workers

-Door-to-door salespeople – especially those that won’t take no for an answer

-Doing my hair and putting on makeup every day

-Co-workers

-Running out of groceries mid-week

-Did I mention co-workers?

-Ringing phones, especially when it’s a co-worker calling

-Cooking dinner, then having it turn out gross

-Pre-dinner prep and post-dinner clean-up taking longer than it takes to eat

-Dogs scratching the door to be let out in the middle of the night

-Eating when I’m not really hungry

-Being at work while my mom takes my son to playdates

-Co-workers

-Being in a bad mood and then having someone say “Well at least you don’t have to…” or “You think it’s bad now, just wait until…” Just let me have my bad mood!!!!

-Money

-saggy boobs and age spots

-Co-workers

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Happy Budgeting – How do you do it?

Nothing makes me feel better than setting a budget and sticking to it. I feel so pious when I make it to my next paycheck with a few dollars to spare. I get a major rush from saving up for something I want and purchasing it with cash, without it affecting my next three paychecks. Living within your means is a wonderful thing. It’s also exhausting.

For me, budgeting everything down to the penny is difficult to sustain as part of a regular lifestyle. It’s about constantly deciding what needs to be bought NOW and what can wait another week or month. Do I pay a little more toward an outstanding bill, or do I buy new socks for my kiddo? Should I get an oil change or new underwear? Stupid stuff. I’m not  budgeting for vacations or an IPad. It’s stuff I will have to get around to spending money on someday.

My husband and I have made some progress this year that I am truly proud of. I have been faithfully putting away a little of each paycheck into a savings account. I am contributing to a retirement account again. We have been diligent about grocery shopping regularly and cheaply, and have cut down our weekly food spending by about $50 or so per week. It seems like I am still doing something wrong though. I often run out of money before the next payday and have to use my credit card for gas or something. I can’t ever seem to get ahead.

The first rule that any financial expert would tell me is to cut out unnecessary expenses. I am not even close to an extreme couponer, a garage-saler or even a good bargain finder, but I don’t spend money on the things most people around me do either. The only items I regularly spend money on that would fall into the unnecessary category are cable tv at $75 a month and lunches or lattes a couple of times a week. Yes, I could take that $3.50 latte twice a week and put that money into savings and end up with an extra $30 a month. Big whoop.  We don’t go out to dinner anymore. We don’t go to movies. We don’t go out for drinks. We don’t pay for entertainment or hobbies. When you consider that, the little luxuries of cable tv, lattes or a bottle of wine on the weekend become necessary rewards in the daily stress of working to live.

I know these times call for serious penny-pinching, and some people would consider me lucky to have food to eat and a roof over my head, so I hope I don’t sound too ungrateful. I’m just having a problem with budget burnout. If you are constantly depriving yourself of anything fun, how long until you go on a spree? I read an interesting article today comparing budgeting to dieting. The premise was with budgeting as with diets, you can’t go crazy for long-term results. Sure, restricting your calories or purchases to extremes will yield impressive results right away, but rarely is it sustainable over the long run.

How have you found a sustainable way to budget while not feeling deprived?  Are there little treats that help you get through your day while staying on budget? Sometimes the only thing that keeps me trudging through 8 more hours of work is the reward of a latte break, but is that going to be the death of my bank account?

September

Many people see January 1st as a new start for their lives. Toss the crap from the previous year and move forward, get it on the calendar, make a change. I’ve tried to make resolutions and goals and adopt a positive attitude come January 1st. It doesn’t work for me because January is an absolute dreadful time of year where I live. I am constantly cold and tired, it’s dark when I get up and dark when I go to bed.  Everything is shades of brown and gray, and we are often plagued by a valley phenomenon known as an inversion – when the pollution, fog  and freezing air gets trapped down in the valley for days on end. There is seemingly nothing positive about January. Winter seems infinite, the fun of the holidays is over, and I have to go back to work with no vacation in sight.

Today at lunch, I walked out into the September sun, which felt delightful –  not scorching as it has been for the last month – and was reminded how very much I love September. For a lot of people I know, September is depressing – summer vacation and all the fun activities that go with it is over, winter weather is on its way, and there is nothing to look forward to. For me, September is my “new year.” I associate it with a new start. Maybe I’m still living in my glory days, associating the change of seasons with the new school year, a chance to start fresh with new friends, new activities, and renewed sense of focus for learning. I love the shift in sunlight that seems to happen overnight, the cool mornings that smell of campfires, and the still warm days that are perfect weather for any activity under the sun.

Today I felt happy, inspired even, to make a change. I’m not sure what that change is. I have a growing list of interests to “look into” someday. Or maybe it’s a change in mentality. My life has become stagnant and unfulfilling (except that of my family, thank God for them), and my emotions have been on a roller coaster for two years. Make that a super loop. Roller coasters at least have ups, my emotions just go round and round in an endless circle. I need a change.

Regardless of what that change is, as summer shifts to winter, something in me shifted today too. I have a hopeful heart when I think about the future. I’m excited for the holidays, for growing my family, watching my son get older. I’m not feeling dreadful about the endless days of meaningless work or the fear of not having enough money.  I know something in my life will shift, and the pieces will come together.

Happy New Year!

Working Mom Misery – Stuckness

I have been struggling with work big time since I had my son two years ago.  I can’t wrap my head around how other women do it – working full time and being a mom while staying happy, that is. From reading around the web, I see I’m not the only one suffering from “stuckness” – physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, maritally…

I have one little boy who is almost two. I work full time because I have to. I’m a college grad with almost 10 years of work experience, but the best I could find after being laid off a few years ago then having a baby was an entry-level administrative job that is so boring I want to blow my head off. But I don’t see any other options right now. I’m stuck. I’ve driven myself crazy trying to think of other viable ways for me to be home with my son more often (not to mention I want to have another), but it all comes back to the same thing – right now, I need to stay put or we go without food, shelter or medical care. What really REALLY sucks is that even though I am away from home 40 hours plus (commuting time, lunch hour, etc), my husband (also a college grad and underpaid full time worker) and I are still just short of making ends meet. Yes, I do have wonderful health insurance and other benefits through my work, but is that worth being miserable and STILL having to pick and choose which bills to pay? After all, don’t we work so we can provide a good life for our children? If I can’t afford to buy my son the things that he needs, or things to keep our house nice, or at least have some financial peace, then what the hell is the point? I feel as though I am robbing myself and my family of any benefits that come from working full time. I don’t love what I do, my salary is just above the poverty line, there is no opportunity for advancement – hell, there aren’t even social benefits!  I am alone in an office for most of the day and only work with a few men who I rarely see.

So here I sit, miserable and depressed, unable to be the mom and wife I long to be because I am so tired all the time.  I feel like I’m balancing on a fine line between happiness and insanity because all day long I go round and round in my head with the same miserable thoughts and no way out.

 The only thing that gives me hope is that I do believe something will change, and things will improve for us. They always do – I have faith.  I know I’m in the majority when it comes to struggling with this, and other people seem to come away with it happy and well adjusted. In the meantime, maybe I’ll come up with a brilliant plan in all these hours I’m wasting away bored out of my mind at work.

Choosing to be Happy

I often wonder, am I the only person in the world that has the problems I have? No way. Millions and billions of other people have the same worries, fears and anxieties that I do. Why then do other people seem, at least by outward appearances, to be happy and functional? When I share with someone whatever I’ve been ruminating about, even if it’s someone who I know shares in my struggles, that person often looks at me like I rode in on a pair of wild hogs (thank you to my father-in-law for my new favorite saying).

I guess other people just don’t obsessively think about things the way I do, hence the surprised looks. Sometimes I find myself dissecting problems bit by bit and rolling them over and over until my brain literally hurts and I am physically drained. Obsessive brooding isn’t good. Obsessively searching for answers you may never find is not good. I don’t really think obsessing is ever a good thing. It tends to make one small problem feel all-encompassing. Look at this post for example – I’m obsessing about obsessing. Ha!

I am going to try to be more like other happy people and not analyze every single thing to the point of making me nuts. Because I love to make lists, here is a list of new rules for myself:

1. I will not read too much into emails and texts and constantly worry that the sender is mad at me.

2. I will not go round and round in my mind about my money-work-kids issue, trying to constantly think of a way to have enough money without working.

3. I will not google every single thought or worry that pops into my mind, spend hours reading chat boards on the topic and then come to the conclusion that everything I’ve just read is true, and then obsess even more about it.

4. I will not look outside of myself for answers about myself. No one else knows me or cares about me more than I do, so it’s up to me.

5. I will put one foot in front of the other and just do what needs to be done without too much introspection.

6. I will trust that God/universe has a plan, and it is not necessary for me to figure out all the answers.

7. I will take pleasure, not guilt, in things that make me happy. I will accept that things will go wrong, but that doesn’t mean I am destined to be unhappy.

8. I will do what works and stop second guessing myself.

A little bit of ignorance is bliss!

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