Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've got the economy.

My family and I laughed at someone on the DIS who posted that she thought "people with the economy" would be cancelling their Disney vacations, and so Disney was going to do some huge promo. Yes, they're doing a huge promo now, but we were laughing at the idea of people actually having the ecomony... like a disease. It's become a running joke with us -- "look out for the economy! I hear it's catching!" Yes yes ha ha... but I have the economy. Seriously.

I've written about money woes before on my blog, and I'm totally comfortable talking money (gasp) bc we all have issues, we all have our own personal woes, and honestly, it's my blog, so if you don't like it, don't read it. :) I thought a progress report would be nice though, and I need to write to clear my head a bit.

When my Aunt Mary passed away about a month ago, and I looked at my credit card and realized it was super high, and I realized I couldn't afford to go to the funeral, I finally started facing the fact that I have a problem. Thankfully a co-worker bailed me out and got me to the funeral using some frequent flyer miles, but I didn't just thank God and continue about my life like nothing was wrong. I read some articles, I looked at my budget vs what I was really spending, and I got honest with myself.

I am a shopaholic. No jokes. No excuses. I shop to alleviate stress, to make myself feel better, to try to make people like me (oh yeah, I'm a gift giver). You name it, I can rationalize buying it (today, no hesitations, no second thoughts, and NO buyer's remorse). Want to know specifics? How about using my stimulus check on a 42 inch flat panel TV? Tax return you ask? New furniture for my living room. Those cute tops I wear? Well I need to look good to teach bc the kids notice. My $1000 cookware -- the Teflon gives you cancer. My china dishes? Well even if I'm not getting married, I still deserve nice china. I could go on. I'm not cheap. I've been like this for a while. It's been getting worse.

OK, you might be rolling your eyes right now, but I'm serious. This is a disease. This is a horrible horrible addiction I have decided is not ok and I have to break.

I started by going cold turkey on spending for a month. No buying anything but the neccessities (and comic books -- they were the only thing on the ok list but I'm working to cut back). I had to live off the food in my fridge and pantry but could buy things like milk, bread, and produce. I did not give up luxuries like internet and my DVR, but I didn't buy non-consumables -- no extra clothing, no jewelry, no purses, no trinkets, no stationary, you get the picture. Oh yeah, here's the worst part: no eating out.

I made it through my month. I greatly missed the eating out with my friends on Sundays. I missed the fellowship, but I found it in other ways, in other places, and for free. I didn't miss the crowds, waiting for a table, figuring out where to eat, the bad service, the cranky kids waiting for food that made us sick bc it was so fat laden. No, all of that I did not miss.

OK, so one month later, and I'm telling LaRae today that I feel empowered. I'm not just trying to pay off my credit card, I'm trying to fix the problem, and I'm winning... mostly. How in the world did I used to grocery shop without looking at prices?! How did I not pay attention to how much I was spending for ridiculous stuff??? It's getting easier to tell myself no to things. It's getting easier to plan a menu for the week. It's getting easier to miss those Sunday meals. It's partially easier bc my sister and her family are cutting back too. Besides the raving madness that it materialism/consumerism is sickening, and I'm ready to not be known for my stuff but for me.

Today it got hard. Change isn't easy. Today I realized that to do small presents for everyone on the math team (15 people!), to get to go to Pokeno, to get to BUY GAS to make my car run, I needed to cut back a few more things. That means no VRCC Christmas Party ($5 per person, hosting a table, and an ornament exchange!) -- which meant letting Jenn down by backing out of hosting a table with her. On the upside, it also meant that LaRae and Randy could have a much needed night out with friends bc I can provide free babysitting for them. It means no jackpot round at Pokeno. When you see $5 as a whole chicken that makes two full recipies and leftovers for a days on end, you don't want to gamble it away. It means watching where I drive and staying in even more. It means I cried on the way home from LaRae's tonight when I had to call Jenn and tell her I was sorry I couldn't do the party and when I realized my happy victory over a month of not spending was now tainted by the realization that this isn't easy.

Mostly it means I'm starting to feel like in the process of letting myself down, I let my friends down too. I mean, this is my problem. I have to fix it. As a result, I can't do my normal fellowship with my friends bc I'm choosing not to spend money on the things we used to do to socialize. I feel like it's making it seem like I'm pulling away, and I'm totally not... I just have to let them down sometimes (like with the hosting of the table). I miss going out. I miss my friends. I feel bad saying no, but I need them to understand why. This isn't a new kick I'm on that's going away. This is tightening up FOR REAL until my debt is gone, and I'm able to actually put real money into savings. One day I'll be able to go out to eat some again and go to movies and such, but understand -- that "one day" is not coming up soon. Please understand that I'm still here, I'm still fun, but if you want to be with me, we have to come up with something that's free to do. :) Let's share a potluck meal at each other's homes, let's have a game night, but let's not forget me. I haven't forgotten you.

I'll post something fun again soon -- I'm trying to update my blog again more often, so check back soon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

It's almost 3pm, and it feels like it should be midnight! Wowza.

I got up this morning around 5:45 and was out the door and to Staples by 6:15! I ordered a new laptop a couple of days ago, so I found Office 2007 for $59.99 there, and I wanted to make sure I got a copy. I severely underestimated the crowds that would be at Staples. The lines were quite long but not ridiculous... until the woman 5 people in front of me had issues with how her printer was ringing up. (Oh yeah, this is after a couple cut in front of me in line, but I didn't want to have a Black Friday Altercation, so I just decided to stay calm, enjoy my day of shopping, and let them stay ahead of me since they were obviously in a bigger hurry than I!) Manager comes up, settles the issue, leaves, and irate shopper lady decides to continue arguing the SAME issue with the cashier again! 30 minutes later (I refused to go to another line figuring this one would start moving soon...) -- they move persistent annoying shopper lady to the front desk with the manager. When I left 10 minutes later, she was still there. Hun, the sales are great... give up your argument!

OK, so it's about 7:15 and drizzling rain when I get to Toys R Us (after a quick stop to feed Paul and Jennifer's cats). Before you pass me off as totally insane for going there on Black Friday, hear me out. I used the million and five (ok maybe a few less) credit card points I had accumulated to get gift cards to do Christmas shopping this year, and Toys R Us was just one of them. So I'm on the phone with my parents as I'm trying to get a parking place. It was in a HUGE puddle and "right out from the middle of nowhere" (as I told my mother when she helpfully reminded me to note where I was parked out from), but it was a parking place. I ignored the crowds and slowly and carefully hunted for the perfect gifts for Katelyn and Joshua. I found them (not telling!) and went to check out. I kid you not -- the line was wrapped around the entire store all the way to the back of the store, but it moved fast because unlike Staples, they had one line that fed to the registers, so problems at one register wouldn't stop a TON of shoppers. I loved this check out experience! It was great!

On to Bed, Bath, and Beyond! Here was a lot less crowded than other places. I found wonderful gifts for Mom, Dad, and LaRae (gift cards for spending again), but it took me a LONG time bc I kept going back to other things trying to decide. Anyhoo -- BBB was uneventful if you don't count the fact that when I left and put my bags in my car, I was really starting to feel panicky that I'd spent sooooo much money today, but then I told myself it was gift cards, so I calmed down. It's nice to spend money that isn't out of my paycheck. :)

Again, amazed at how early it was, I went on to Barnes and Noble. I cleaned my garage last night and found a gift card for there that a student had given me for Christmas last year! Rock on! So I was able to get the Twilight Movie Companion I've had my eye on for a while, and I have some money leftover on the card for the Tales of Beedle the Bard when it comes out! Yea!

It was almost 10 by that time, so I decided to go home and bone out the chicken that I'd cooked in the crock pot. Yum! I'll make something yummy for dinner tonight.

Then I decided it was time to go to the mall. Gasp! I went to see the 11:15 am showing of Twilight (2nd time I've seen it, but I deserved a treat). Here's another pic for all of you Rob Pattinson fans -- it's he hot??

After that I hit Lane Bryant for the buy one, get one sale (biggest sale I've seen there EVER). I actually called my mom before I went in and after I left. All I was getting was 2 pairs of jeans. I actually walked toward something maroon and sparkly and said "no" out loud! I'm still really learning to control my spending addiction, so it was actually nice to have the support. :) I did it too! I just got 2 pairs of jeans!

Anyways, so it's now 3:15-ish, and I've been all over and done so much today! It's really quite insane. I'm trying not to nap, so that I can go to bed early tonight and get a good night's sleep. Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and fun Black Friday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Rescued a Human Today

I don't normally post these email forwards, but this one brought a tear to my eye. In some ways, Sprinkles rescued my life (even though he wasn't from a shelter...).

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.