Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Money woes


Dave spent 20 minutes this morning venting about money worries and then another five minutes at the front door trying to get me to cheer up before he went to work.

"I'm not going until you cheer up," he said. I smiled crookedly, fuming on the inside. Really? Let's get all depressed and then be cheery on the way out? He feels guilty, I think. He just bought a used motorcycle, using his credit line. Nah, we couldn't afford it. We were stupid to do it. Then again, life is short. If it's at all possible to do something you love, do it. Another one of my acquaintances is in hospice with terminal cancer, came right out of the blue. She was fine, she found a lump, two months later she's in hospice.

Dave grew up with motorcycles but he hasn't had one for 20 years. When my brother-in-law Don got one, when our friend Richard got one, Dave got all itchy to get one, too. Peer pressure, I guess. Next thing I know he was cruising the online classifieds and before you can say Bob's your uncle (thanks Susan), there was a motorcycle in our garage.

Last night we went for a ride. It was fantastic. Cool evening air blowing in my face. Watching clouds scud across the setting sun. As miles ticked by my frustrations of the day slid behind us like our lengthening shadow. Last night it was worth every penny.

This morning reality has set in yet again. Dave wants to talk about budgeting. Just the word budget makes my teeth ache.

We have our own money, Dave and I, although it's not like he hoards it or anything. We share. But he has his bills, I have mine. Because he makes twice as much money as I do, at least twice, he pays the mortgage, the taxes, the trailer payment and the utilities. (Fecking hydro is enough to choke a goat.) I pay the Jeep payment, groceries, internet and my own credit card. I also give my ex-husband, Doug, a little money here and there for child support. Not a lot – because I don't have a lot – but what I can. He's good that way. We have an agreeable relationship, not like some who only see each other in court as they either demand more money or refuse to give more. Anyway, times are hard for Doug, too. He has asked me for more money and I honestly don't have more money to give. My pay cheque disappears as soon as it lands in my bank account.

I haven't had a substantial raise in pay since I started working there (yes, there has been an occasional cost of living increase, which is so barely noticeable that I'm not 100% sure if I got them or not) and I have just found out I won't be getting one. Ever. Period. I am at the top of my pay scale so it doesn't matter how hard I work, or what I contribute to the company, I will not be compensated for that extra effort financially. I must be content with what I bring home right now. This, in spite of the fact that my responsibilities have increased substantially. Sometimes I think, "why bother?" Just do what you have to do, try and keep your nose clean, and forget about the rest. But that's not who I am. I have to do my best, all the time – that's just the way I roll, baby.

I'm not alone there, that's for sure. There are a lot of other people in the same boat. We're all lucky to even have jobs, I know. But being lucky doesn't help put food on the table.

Meanwhile, the cost of groceries has pretty much doubled in the last six years. Back then $130 paid for food for a family of four for a week. It's rare that I spend less than $230 these days. Gasoline has also jumped. So has hydro. Everything keeps going up and up – everything except my pay cheque.

I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to look around for another job. Or perhaps take a second job. Maybe delivering pizzas or working at Wal-mart. Every time I drive by Domino's and see the sign in the window that says "Now Hiring Drivers" I want to run in there and apply. Maybe me and Dave could do it on Friday nights, together, like a date. Maybe we could do it on his motorcycle, tomato sauce in the saddle bags, the smell of pepperoni in the wind in our hair ...

Dave takes Angus for his first ever motorcycle ride. Gus loved it!

48 comments:

  1. I know you finished on a humerous note but money troubles are draining. You may find some sensible ideas on Gail Vaz-Oxlades site. You can find her in my "blogs I follow" list in my sidebar. She's a real common sense lady with some good ideas on money management.

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    1. Thanks for the link, Delores! I know Gail - watch her TV show occasionally. She's funny and she makes cents (!)

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  2. You guys ought to move here to Planet Georgia. Between our climate and your cold-weather gear, you could ride that Vulcan year-round!

    Pizza delivery on a motorcycle can be fun. Usually, though, it's urban scooters outfitted for the job. ;-)

    Hope you guys get that financial stuff straightened out. Been there, and hate it.

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    1. Thanks Larry! I do want a scooter... I do, I do, I do... maybe pizza delivery would justify it???

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  3. Oh, and I complain when I have to buy groceries here in Mexico. Yikes. I forgot how expensive everything was in Canada.

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    1. I'm curious, Clarissa - how much does it cost to buy groceries in Mexico?

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  4. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! Everything goes up but the wages! The feckers!!! Love the new bike! Can't wait to go riding! I didn't think Don needed one either but I think I enjoy riding it more than Don does! Summers snowmobile! lol. Personally, I think we're all slaves. They just trick us into thinking we're free by giveing us a meager wage! I envy the wild animals who live their life as life should be lived! With no money! People could learn from them. Anyway back to the bike, Enjoy!!! And watch out for the crazy car drivers! They have no respect!

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    1. We're two peas in a pod, Liz. Can't tell we're sisters at all!!!! :) Love ya!

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  5. I figured out somewhere along the line that in order to have enough money to be comfortable you must have your own business. However, I was always too lazy. What I did to get raises is move from job to job. I was lucky because I worked within a large university system. Longevity is valued but you seldom get ahead by being comfortable and loyal I'm afraid. I know that sounds snotty but it was true for me.

    Anyway, the bike is a necessity if you consider all the pleasure it will give you guys. Happy riding!

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    1. You're right, Rubye. Of course you're right. Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany - I realized one of my bosses was only 35 years old (I thought he was 40, at least). And I thought - wow, 35! I realized that, in a financial sense, I had wasted many, many years. I could have done so much better had I aggressively sought management positions, rather than being content to write and photograph and design. I shed a tear over that one. Here I am, 51, being told what to do by a 35 year old. Did you know there's a special course within the company that teaches young managers how to deal with us older employees? I guess maybe it's required. It would be difficult to direct someone like me who thinks she knows bloody everything and is yappy and emotional to boot.

      And I do agree that the bike IS a necessity for poor Dave. He works so bloody hard.

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  6. I hear you. We're tightening belts here, too. Hubbers lost his job. Mine? I've had 10 days of furlough x 4 years, which means the state has gotten 40 free days from me. There is a rumor we might get cost-of-living January 2013, but who knows...

    The price of groceries--obscene! Bread 4 bucks a loaf; a half-gallon of milk the same. Gas is finally cheaper, but I don't have money to go anywhere ;^)

    Hang tight--I think we're all in this together. Peace...

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    1. I hear you. I think we should all live in a commune and grow our own food. Arggghhh...
      For me, and I'm sure it's this way for you, too, is I was hoping to be in better financial shape by now. When I was younger, belt-tightening was a way of life. I was ALWAYS poor. But now I'm creeping closer to retirement age and I was hoping not to be as worried about money at this stage of my life.

      You hang tight, too. oxoxox

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  7. He shouldn't feel guilty, and neither should you. There comes a point when you realize, if I don't do this now I never will (they run a good ways on a tank of gas and he is a mechanic after all, right?). You can budget and still enjoy life fully.

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, YES! That's exactly how I feel. Friends are dying all around us, left right and centre, and the way time flies, and the age we're at now, we're not far from being too old to get on the damned bike. Already I have to do arthritic acrobatics to get my damned leg over the seat!!!!!!
      And yes, he's a mechanic - the bike is actually a 1992 model and he's already fixed it up good as new. He looks after stuff, he does. As for the gas situation, yesterday he filled up the tank and it cost 12 bucks. TWELVE BUCKS! It cost me $71 the other day to fill up our Jeep. He has a half hour drive to work so when you think how little it will cost for that drive, compared to taking the car, the bike will soon pay for itself. I agree with all of this, Mark. That's why I encouraged him to buy it, in spite of money worries. Plus, I like to see him happy. He asks for so little from life and works so hard. He's a good, good man.

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  8. I hope things work out. I hate money. i always have money woes too. Never enough, not to mention student loan debts. Arrrg.

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    1. Thanks Anthony, I hope they work out for you, too. Some day you'll be a bestselling author and will be ROLLING in dough!

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  9. I read the minimum wage in 1968 was worth more than what the minimum wage is now due to the cost of things. So I hear you about money worries, I'm anxiously waiting for two more months to collect social security at sixty two. When you get over 50 or 60 no one will hire you so my husband and I have been scrimping by on his measly social security for the past three years. We go to local flea markets and sell our possessions and also on craigslist - items we no longer need. That helps pay for our food and utilities. We also go to the local produce market and get vegetables and fruit for much less than the grocery store, luckily we live in Florida and have year round markets to purchase from. We go to garage sales looking for items we can sell at a small profit at the flea markets. I sell some of my pottery and I am happy to have that diversion which keeps me from going crazy thinking about the state our country has deteriorated to and worrying about those less fortunate than myself and being powerless to do anything about it while the politicians travel willy nilly, party, and make foolish laws never thinking we all need jobs and good ones at that. Don't feel guilty you never know, if you don't do it now, you may never have the opportunity again.

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    1. I love your go-get-em-attitude, Linda! Your resourcefulness in hard times is inspirational. Funny you should mention selling stuff we no longer need – I've got TONS of stuff I could get rid of, including my first wedding dress! I just dug it out last night. A real gem - made in 1986! Anybody interested? It's got puffy sleeves and it's made of satin - it's got a veil to go with it - all you need is big 80s hair to make the look complete!!!!!!!!!
      ;0

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  10. We pay a lot for petrol, here in the UK. Even with a slight price-war at the pumps between the supermarket garages, it still costs us £1.40 a litre on average (I did some maths conversion and I think that's about $9.50/gallon!) Given my husband's office is 60 miles away, that's 120 miles per day - he spends a fortune! But we couldn't afford to buy property in that area so he has to make the journey! (no, I can't see him trading in the estate car for a bike, somehow....)

    We're not too badly off at the moment - the house is paid for and we had a lot of work done before I took early retirement - but we don't do fancy holidays and though we like to go to the theatre, we're always in the 'cheap seats'!

    When it comes to belt tightening, we go for cheaper cuts of meat, pare down the utility bills by batch-cooking and wearing extra jumpers in the colder weather.

    It's no fun, doing without, but it's amazing what you find you can do without if you have to. And we are fortunate that unlike so many in this world we do not go to bed hungry (and the fact that we actually HAVE a bed to sleep in...!)

    I was reading about some proposed law in Philadelphia where they intend to make it illegal (or at least, make it as hard as possible!)to give out food to the poor. Has the civilised world come to this?

    I wish you well, Cathy, and hope things improve in the very near future.
    (and go hell-for-leather on that motorbike, enjoying the wind in your face, while you can!)

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    1. Sue, you know what? I'm seeing a pattern here... almost none of us creative writer types are wealthy!!! What is UP with THAT?????
      Perhaps we all should have been doctors. Or plumbers. I do look good with a plumber's crack, I'm told...
      Chin up, Sue! We're all gonna be fine! And that law in Philadelphia? How completely STUPID is that? What is wrong with some people? Argggghhh....

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  11. I can see you guys driving down the road with pizza boxes!
    Maybe some more writing jobs? You are an excellent storyteller.
    And you're right about the grocery bills. It's a hundred bucks a week or more for two of us.

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    1. Pfffft..... writing jobs... none of my writing jobs PAY, Alex!!!!!
      I am thinking I should finish my damned book, though... you never know. It could save my proverbial bacon.

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  12. If Dave's going to ride that bike to work instead of a car, or, god forbid, a truck, you will be ahead in gas. My brother rode his in Ohio winters, to save money. But he had a lot of ex-wives to support. Looking for the little rays of sunshine, here.

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    1. He rode them in Ohio winters???? OMG, he's a brave man!!!
      Thanks for your rays of sunshine, Joanne!!!

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  13. Times are hard all over...many times over the past winter I wondered if we'd be able to make rent, and I'm worried about it for July 1st as well.

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    1. I'd send you money if I could, JoJo. I know how hard it is, I do. Such a struggle. Maybe we should all consider prostitution.

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  14. I know how the whole the money thing goes. We are budgeting, and I'm hating it, because my wife gets all freaked out any time anything goes over anywhere even if we have the money to cover it. Or if we have some expense that wasn't foreseen. It all gives me a headache.

    You should try for a promotion that puts you at the bottom of the next pay scale. That just happened with my wife. She hit the top of where she was, so she got a promotion to the bottom of the next rung.

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    1. The pay scale thing is something I'm thinking about, Andrew, but the fact is, the only rung up is in management and I don't think I want to do that. I'm happy being creative, it's what I do best, and managing other people gives me a pain in the butt just thinking about it!!!!
      Yes, money sucks, basically!!! Good luck with your own money headaches!

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  15. We are very lucky, as Tony and I are still employed. However, it's the Post office for both of us, so who knows for how long? I was also lucky that becoming a regular got me a pay raise, as it was potentially going to be a $5K cut. Who knows how long this will last as well though?

    I made it a habit of living within my means since my ex husband never paid a dime, so when he died in September the SS survivor benefits were a god send. I have finally caught up on everything, and now it goes into the bank for their college, as it is not my money it is theirs.

    Tony and I agreed to keep EVERYTHING separate. I just bought a new car and he is not on the title. The house is mine, solely. When I refinance it will be me, or I won't do it. We have many money talks but at the end of the day.... his money is his... mine is mine. It works well to avoid the arguments. Bonus Brother's upcoming college expenses will mean a huge shift in the bills... again. *sigh*

    At least you can enjoy your newest acquisition... BB's college will just be money wasted when he flunks out. And Tony'll be on the hook for the money since BB's never had a job won't likely get one as a college drop out. Sad, but likely true.

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    1. WOW. Sorry I took it all out here... seems like I had some unresolved issues to get out. :)

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    2. Keeping money separate is one of the BIGGEST things I learned from my first marriage. You're right, you don't fight about it as much when it's separate. The other thing is, when my first marriage broke up, the bank froze our joint bank account for MONTHS.
      And don't worry, you can take it out here anytime - at least the people you're venting about aren't reading other people's blogs! We should rent a blog! Where we go around venting in places where the subjects we're venting about aren't looking! (A money idea! Woot!)
      Good luck with BB. I think you'll need all the luck you can muster!!!!
      oxo

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  16. As long as I can keep the wolf away from the door I feel fortunate: Nice bike.
    In the wind
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  17. "Love will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no love."

    That said, added responsibility with no added income is not a lot of fun. Especially when you're cash-short.

    My wife and I share everything, financially. Same income. Same home. Same kinds and grandkids. It's been like that since square one.

    Blessings and Bear hugs. And keep on bikini'.

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    1. For a minute there I thought you wrote 'keep on bikini'... and I was thinking... Rob, have you SEEN me in a bikini because you wouldn't be wishing for me to more of that!!!!!!

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  18. Sorry about your friend.

    Tell you husband to sell is motorbike if he can't afford it. It's silly to put stress on family finances for something like that, no matter how much you want the thing.

    I may sound hard, but I have learnt to go without a lot of things- right now I'm weighing up whether I can afford to self publish my book or not, ISBNs to purchase, registration fees as a publisher, just one ISBN and registration fee in this country come to $95 - something that will have to wait until there is some spare cash. Made more difficult because I am 61 and not working anymore (was a remedial massage therapist) and the government won't give me a pension until I am 65 - so we survive on one wage and sometimes there is no wage.

    Truly if he can't afford the bike, then having it is selfish - I understand how frustrating your job situation must be for you. Big hug.

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    1. Oh dear, I hope I didn't make Dave sound selfish! He is the most UN-selfish person I know!!! And ultimately he can afford it. He's a lot younger than me (only 43) and has many years of work ahead of him and he is the hardest working person I have ever met. He may stress about money but honestly I feel secure around with him. And if he does die unexpectedly, he is well insured. If I really thought the bike was a bad idea, I would have put my foot down and said no.
      I do hope you scratch together the money for the ISBN soon... Your book is wonderful and deserves t be read! Hugs to you, too!!!

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    2. I think we all stress about money some of the time. I'm glad he can afford it though and I hope he and your have many happy hours riding on it. I expect I will get the money together, these things have a way of working out.

      I pulled a card from the Wonderland Tarot for you for the future you got the 9 of Oysters (Pentacles in traditional decks). It looks bright, it looks good, it shows a future of material gain, physical comfort on many levels, financial, emotional and physical. - What this card tells me about your future is that you will reap the rewards of the hard work you may now be putting into your life and that you will achieve a real sense of self -reliance. From this card it indicates that although you will not be alone, you are able to stand alone. ^_^

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    3. That sounds amazing, Helen. Is it amazing? For a card like that? I hope it's true, I really really do. Thanks sweetie!

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  19. I nominated you for an award :)
    http://cupandchaucer.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/an-award/

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  20. My husband and I used to have a combined income of over $40/hr. Then, both of the local plants we worked in closed. We now earn way less than half of what we used to, but you know what? We're happier. We have our health and we have each other. No more shift-work. No more lonely evenings apart. If we liked motorcycles, dammit, we'd get ourselves one because life is too short. Let's enjoy it any way we can!

    karen
    ps, we don't have motorcycles, but we have some kick-ass recliner chairs that we love!

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    1. LOL!!!!! "Kick-ass recliner chairs!" Wouldn't it be nice if those puppies came on wheels?!!!!
      Thanks Karen! :)

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    2. Little jealous (but only in a good way!) about that motorcycle. sigh. My husband had one when we got married - sold it because the city took us to court because we had to pave our driveway. We didn't know it was a bylaw when we moved here from elsewhere. We parked on that bike for years...

      Think of the upside - they are easy on gas!

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  21. The image of you and Dave on a motorcycyle, delivering pizzas, is hilarious. There's GOT to be a story in there somewhere! You're right, Cathy...you gotta live a little bit (at least it was a USED motorcycyle).

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  22. Now how is it I missed this sterling use of "And Bob's your uncle," I want to know? What is it about that phrase that is just so perfect for so many situations, eh? Now, on to other matters, your closing lines had me laughing right out loud, so hard that I forgot to tell you: "Maybe me and Dave could do it on Friday nights, together, like a date. Maybe we could do it on his motorcycle, tomato sauce in the saddle bags, the smell of pepperoni in the wind in our hair ..." Ah the poetry of everyday life.

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