preparing for unemployment

This month marks the third December in a row in which we do not know if Keith will have any work in the new year.

His work is seasonal, although it doesn’t have to be. It really all depends on who is giving out contracts at what times and for how much. It’s really not so scary as it sounds, although it does require a lot of flexibility and planning.

It’s kind of an interesting balance, though. In the midst of excitedly planning for Christmas presents and Rilla’s second birthday party, I am also minimizing our outgoing expenses: pausing contributions to Keith’s Roth IRA, minimizing the amounts we put toward debts, and putting our NetFlix account on hold.

I am always surprised at how this is still such a learning process for me. I’m not (so) afraid of the possibility of Keith not having work for the next month or two or three or four; we have weathered it for the last two winter seasons, so I am sure we will make it through this one too. It does surprise me, though, to find myself fighting having to put the brakes on so many little outgoing expenses and return to the bare minimum costs for everything. Maybe I am not so frugal as I think I am? Or maybe I just don’t enjoy it all the time. I hate to use the term “feast or famine,” but I do tend to enjoy feasting a little more in the summer and fall months. Preparing to return to the famine of the winter and spring months is a bit less appealing, but that’s okay; we will make it through again.

I find myself thinking now of lots of little ways to make it through better this time. I have a big pile of things that we can put on eBay sometime in February when there’s not much else to do. Maybe I can make some cards or sew some things to sell on Etsy. In many ways, I have been looking forward to the winter months of having Keith at home – maybe I can get some writing done, maybe we’ll finally get Abraham moved into his own room, maybe we can make it through Season Three of 24.

We have made some good progress on debt this year, although with the snow slowing down production in November and December, I probably should have held back more for savings sooner… but oh well. You learn as you go, right? I am getting excited to tally up our headway on debt this year and write a post about that sometime in January. Stay tuned.

Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm  Comments (1)  

trailer living

We recently made the decision to move from a delightfully spacious home in a new subdivision to a 70s-style trailer home in *ahem* a trailer home neighborhood. There are days when I regret it, but they are becoming less frequent now as we walk out some of the benefits. Here they are.

  • We’re saving $600 per month.
  • We can afford to put more money toward our debts as well as buy mostly organic food.
  • We didn’t have to go into (more) debt when Keith was out of work for two months immediately after we moved.
  • What with many of our belongings still piled on the porch, I have a good reason to purge extra stuff.
  • I now know that living in a yurt will (probably) never be for us. Glad we didn’t try it first.
  • When we move again, I will forever be glad to live in a bigger home.
Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  

so long, cell phones

We’re finally eliminating our cell phones.

It’s been on the to-do list for a while. There is enough information out there about the neurological damage caused to fetuses, infants, children, and adults that it should have been a no-brainer for us to make the move sooner. But let’s face it, cell phones are super convenient, and it has taken us a bit of time to be willing to do without them. Every time I read another convincing article and am absolutely persuaded that the benefits outweigh the risks, though, I find myself in a predicament in which my cell phone is tremendously handy.

I’ve been waiting to try to find a good deal on a couple of pay-as-you-go phones so that Keith and I could contact each other in case of an emergency, but I think it’s time that we just bite the bullet and eliminate one of our last flexible expenses from our budget. We’ve been avoiding using them for a year or more anyway, but we still carry them around with us and leave messages for each other throughout the day. I will miss that, but our health is worth it.

And I suppose so is saving $70 each month.

But I wonder how it will go, this not-having-cell-phones thing.

I think the hardest part of getting rid of them is that it will eliminate one of our last ties to the business world. We initially got a cell phone less than three years ago so that we could have a house phone while we didn’t have a house. Then we upgraded to two phones and 2000 minutes a month (and still sometimes went over!) while we were in the thick of the business professional mode. We’ve now downgraded to 700 minutes a month but have added a house phone.

Eliminating our cell phones doesn’t just mean eliminating a convenience. It means no longer having a business line, aka accepting the fact that we really no longer have a business. At least not in the professional “Hello, you’ve reached Keith and Jamie, Branch Managers with United First Financial” message on my voicemail kind of way. It means I will have to toss in the recycling bin all of those lovely brochures with our phone number blazed on the back. It means my business cards are no longer accurate. And so I guess somehow it means letting go of the dream/plan/goal of being successful business professionals. We’ve already let that go in so many other ways; why am I so reluctant to let go of the cell phones?

They’ve been shown to cause brain cancer and neurological disfunction, after all.

But it’s pride, really. My cell phone is my tie to the days of pinstriped dress pants, high heels, and assisting to run a multi-million-dollar company. I was the manager of the department that kept the company going, and I kept the department going. I still have the personal cell phone numbers of the UFirst principals on my phone, and probably some old texts from them. But I resigned, and we moved on, and we know now that if we “do” UFirst, it won’t be as seemingly successful professionals. It will be as Keith and Jamie, Bible college grads who live in a trailer and garden in tires and love the Lord and happen to know a thing or two about finances. This is really us, this is really what we can afford, and the Money Merge Account really works if you let it. And so it’s time to get rid of our cell phones, along with the $70-per-month charge, the neurological hazards, and the pride.

Maybe I should get rid of those high heels while I’m at it.

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment