DH is getting furloughed again

DH’s company will be between grants/projects again.  So this time instead of laying everybody off, they’ve decided to furlough 20% and actually give time off, not just a paycut.  Everyone seems pretty happy about this solution.   It’s going to be Fridays starting this month.

DH promises he won’t use his extra day of weekend to do yardwork, which seems to be where his free time has gone in the past.  Given our lack of childcare, we’re not too unhappy about this state of affairs.  And, given the number of reimbursements we’ve received over the past few months for travel and summer camps and so on, I think it’s possible we won’t have to dip into savings at least until I start getting paid again in October.

They’re not sure how long things are going to last– the problem is that their next project money involves a lot of travel… and Covid has messed all of that up.  Even states allowing travel have had restrictions about who is allowed to visit the places DH would need to visit.

Hopefully the company will stay in business.  Otherwise, I don’t know, maybe it will be time for him to take an early retirement.  Or moving to Paradise.  Who knows.

Have you and yours been affected by the pandemic/recession?

RBOC

  • We cancelled the summer family trip to the popular Midwestern destination, taking advantage of United’s “cancel before May and reschedule sometime in the next 24 months at no extra cost” opportunity.  We still haven’t cancelled the Portland anniversary trip because we went through another airline and we have to figure out how to do that, though we will need to cancel the AirBNB by the end of the month to get our money back.  DC1’s summer camp hasn’t been cancelled yet, so I guess we’re holding off on that as well.  Also my big summer conference is online-only this year.  So we’ll have a bunch of airline miles and suddenly instead of having 3 weeks of travel this summer, I don’t.  DH is regretting not taking his birthday off from work since he no longer needs to use 2 weeks vacation for summer travel.
  • The Walmart in DH’s (small rural) hometown got completely bought out– literally emptied from food to clothes to large appliances— after the stimulus money came in.
  • The kids’ schools have been cancelled for the year and they’ve started having grades and new material again.  The idea is that grades will appear on the transcript but will not be included in the GPA.  For students without internet access, they’ve made free wifi available in school parking lots and have handed out tablets.
  • There’s now things that need to be turned in for grade three, which is a subset of things that are assigned.  We’re just doing the things that need to be turned in, and not any of the assigned stuff that doesn’t.  It’s not technically optional, but who is to know?  Plus a lot of these things that don’t need to be turned in are either things DC2 doesn’t need more practice on (ex. zie is about a year ahead in math) or that require a ton of parent involvement and things that we don’t have access to (ex. specific gardening projects).  So for folks who are struggling with make-work projects and unnecessary projects in grades where grades don’t matter… just don’t.  I give permission.  You getting your stuff done is more important.
  • That doesn’t mean that we don’t have stuff for DC2 to do.  Zie is still doing hir full set of weekend workbooks every day except Monday.  On Monday zie does schoolwork.  Tuesday-Sunday are the weekend workbooks.  Piano practicing is every day.  We’ve also added 15 minutes of room cleaning along with regular chores of putting away the silverware and folding/putting away any of hir own laundry.  With all this home time, DC2’s room was becoming an enormous disaster area.
  • We’ve had to start waking DC2 up earlier because zie would get super grumpy about not having time for a full two hours of videogames/shows and then have trouble getting to sleep at night and the cycle would repeat.  So… apparently 7 year olds are a bit like toddlers?  We’re now making sure zie is up by 9, though we really haven’t been able to enforce bedtime because zie keeps sneaking books under the covers no matter how many times we cut hir off.  We don’t have the energy to do a harsh enforcement, so forcing a wake-up seems easier.
  • DC2 has also noticed that zie can will baked goods into being by just announcing that zie wants them… putting it out into the universe.  I worry zie will move to LA and become a proponent of The Secret.
  • DC1 has been working diligently mostly on school work and studying for the new modified AP exam.  We’re not quite sure what to do to help but we’re figuring it out.  Hir history teacher has required class meetings 3x/week at 1pm which is irritating because they’re not supposed to have any required meetings and ALL the teachers want to meet at 1pm so DC2 can’t go to optional meetings from other teachers.  This wouldn’t be so bad if she posted the information/material/deadlines/ways to turn in assignments any other way.  But she doesn’t.
  • DC1 has been overall much more relaxed– getting to bed earlier, having some time to play video games (zie is on the third go-through of Undertale).  The best part is there’s no art projects for English anymore, just writing and content.  Still, DC1 managed to get a low grade on a timed quiz because zie thought scene 1 was the same as Act 1 and hadn’t read the entire first act of Romeo and Juliet.  So we’re back to getting low grade warnings via email.  But at least they’re more deserved?
  • The relative’s kid who got into college ran away from home (because of the quarantine) to live with the much older married woman who has/had been abusing him and is not doing his homework so he is not going to graduate from high school after all.  I always worry what would have happened if we hadn’t interfered– would he have finished high school?  Or would he have dropped out earlier?  Or did we really have no effect?  Are we helping or making things worse?  Or just too far away to change anything?

Rewards

Young house love has a podcast talked about how in the Hygge book, the guy who wrote the book rewarded himself with a chair.

For example, this guy who wrote the book had saved money for a new chair that he really wanted. But he waited until he published his first book to buy the chair. And so that way in buying the chair it reminds him of this accomplishment, and it feels like more than just the time I bought the chair. It’s like, “Remember when I wrote that book, and then I bought myself this chair to celebrate?”

I used to reward myself.  I’d read a part of an article for a referee report and then I’d get to watch a 4 min youtube video or read a section of a chapter of a novel.  If I got X done, I’d get to read a book.  And so on.

But… forcing myself to be productive via rewards has been harder to do lately… If there’s a reward I will just take it without actually doing the work.

I want it I got it.

I think I’ve been losing this ability since we got really comfortable with our finances and there’s really nothing reasonable that we can’t have (so long as we don’t want a house in Paradise).  I feel like no longer needing to deny myself monetarily has spilled over to other areas of my life as well.  Like, even if DH and I lost our jobs tomorrow we still wouldn’t be forced to live in a van by the river any time soon.  I’ve also been listening to my hunger a bit less… though my desire to not have to buy any new clothing helps a bit there.

Do rewards work for you?  How do you reward yourself?  If not, did they ever work?  How do you get yourself to get through unpleasant tasks?

 

You know you’re getting older when

  • You start recognizing fewer and fewer names and faces on the People magazine covers at the grocery store.
  • The only Lady Gaga song you know is by Lady Gaga is the one that sounds exactly like that Madonna song.  You know it is Lady Gaga once you hear it because you read on CNN (or heard on NPR) that her newest hit single sounds like Express Yourself.
  • you realize that the above bullets were written over 7 years ago(!).
  • none of the students get your jokes anymore.  Any of them.
  • They haven’t even seen Stand and Deliver.  What is up with that?
  • we should have saved the “your good hip hurts” thing for this rboc, not the previous one
  • there are definitely more aches and pains though
  • there’s so much you used to care about that just seems like trivial drama now
    • Though that could be because there’s actual life-at-risk drama and treason and stuff coming at us on a daily basis, which has nothing to do with our ages so much as our cohort…
  • you have 131 unfinished posts in your drafts, but zero under scheduled….

Grumpeteers, how do you know you’re getting older?

A mostly unscheduled weekend snapshot

One weekend:

Saturday:

Extended morning cuddle time.
DH and DC1 go grocery shopping:  8-9:45
DH takes DC1 to robotics (last Saturday before tournament, DH is there because the last two times DC1 went by hirself we got complaints from the teacher about DC1 wandering around):  10-4
I take DC2 out for lunch:  11am-whenever
Kids chores (I help with workbooks) and homework
I do so much laundry and dishes (kids fold their own clothing– usually DH joins too but I did his stuff while he was at robotics) and made a bunch of food (start beet salad, freeze the rocky road liquid that DC2 and DH made the previous night).
Finished and scheduled a bunch of blog posts.
DC2 and DH watch Paddington Bear in preparation for seeing Paddington 2 in theaters. It is too scary for DC2 and we spend the next few nights with hir complaining about being too scared to sleep. Paddington 2 is nixed.

Sunday:

Extended morning cuddle time.
DH does online gaming with friends (I help kids with chores and putter with other chores): 9-12
DH helps my students with a tricky programming problem:  12-1
I finish making beet salad and make tuna noodle casserole.
DH and DC2 make angel food muffins with the eggwhites leftover from the ice cream we made Friday/Saturday.
Did a bunch of financial/family chores (2018 IRAs, ordered a book from the library for DC1, emailed about getting on the middle school math practice mailing list, etc.  I had a list of about 9 things that needed to get done sometime that weekend and worked on them in between answering math questions.)
DH and I kiss a bunch.
Cranked through some work emails in preparation for Monday.
Listened to a bunch of 1960s and 1970s songs and sang and danced. Taught the kids the mashed potato and a few arm moves from the 1970s (that I learned in kindergarten in California…) DC1 showed us hir preferred hopping dance move. DC2 has an impressive group of dance moves. I realize that I really need to wear a sports bra if I’m going to twist like we did last summer.
Help my sister with some activism stuff.

I just cannot schedule weekends.  It makes me really unhappy to have them scheduled.  I could be getting more work done, and before kids I worked 6 days a week, but I have a really hard time doing that now.  DC2 especially is really good at interrupting me when I’m trying to get something done that requires thinking.  I really enjoy unstructured weekends.

How do you deal with weekends?  Feel free to link up to your previous weekend scheduling posts if applicable.

One week of spending with #1

Inspired by Yuppie Millenial’s post.  [link updated to refinery 29]

Saturday:
Grocery shopping: $176.56
Cream sodas and donuts for the kids (we went because I wanted a donut, but when I got there they were out of the kind I like so I didn’t get anything): $10.50
DH ordered a replacement door handle for my car since he broke one at the donut shop: $12.97
By dinner time I was really starting to feel under the weather, so DH picked up ramen from the new from-scratch ramen place in town (they make their own noodles! no msg! so good): $39.80

Sunday:
DH decided to try a new Mexican place with the kids. It was meh. (I stayed home and slept.): $34.06

Monday:
DC1’s after school care for the next month (paid early via credit card): $115
DH ordered replacement earphones for himself out of his allowance: $31.88

Tuesday:
DH put gas in the car: $15.55
DH also bought a ton of stuff for work that he’s getting reimbursed for, so I’m not going to count it. Our garage is gradually turning into a workshop. But that’s a trade-off for telecommuting.

Wednesday:
DH decided to get burgers for lunch and brought one to my office: $20.30
Replacement booster seat for the carseat that was in the accident (DC2 is big enough for this particular booster and refused the super expensive convertible one that I wanted to buy because zie didn’t like the cowmooflage, thus forcing me to look at other brands and saving us ~200): $53.01

Thursday:
No spending

Friday:
Paid violin teacher online (usually this is $80, but she’s taking a week off): $60

So is this a typical week?  Hard to say.  Usually we eat out as a family 2x/week and DH goes out for coffee or for lunch in order to get out of the house during the week.  Usually he doesn’t bring me any and pays for it out of his allowance.  Most weeks we spend ~$200 for groceries, but some weeks we spend more because we go into the city or we skip entirely because we’re too busy or need to eat the pantry down some.  Also this misses most of our major first of the month expenses like daycare, mortgage, and so on, though I guess I did pay for after school and violin a bit early.

Does anything surprise me?  I guess how many small purchases got made?  DH tends to buy things right away when he thinks we need them, but I tend to buy things in lumps.  His frequent buying of small things is definitely a function of having amazon prime.

But an interesting snapshot.

Have you ever tracked your spending?  Why or why not?  How in detail did you go?  Did you learn anything?

A super-late update on my super-boring finances, how fun is that

I last talked about my boring finances waaay back in 2010.  Since then I have:  gotten tenure, quit my job, gotten engaged, moved across the country from Hell to Paradise, planned a wedding, gotten married, and gotten a new job… and gosh, a lot has happened in five years.

So, you may be wondering, how has all of this affected my boring finances?

student loans:  These were due to be paid off in 2018.  I got rid of them in 2013 mostly because of the loan servicer changing to one whose interface SUXXORED.

Wedding/Honeymoon: Thank every one of the gods and goddesses that the planning is over.  The wedding was a blast!  Everything was great.  The pictures came out wonderfully, the food was tasty, there was some laughter, nobody killed each other [despite the swordplay].  When I look at the photos of that day, all I see is love.

We paid for the honeymoon (and the wedding) ourselves, thanks to our savings and a windfall from my partner’s job.  Thanks also to both sets of parents who gave us cash gifts they could afford, thus freeing anybody from arguing about loans or who got to make decisions.  We <3 you, parents.  Cash is always appropriate.

We went far away on our honeymoon, and because it was our one-and-only honeymoon, we sprang for business class on the long-haul flight (both ways).  We haven’t done this before, and it was really worth it. Business class really cuts down on the amount of pain we’re in after a long flight (although it doesn’t completely eliminate that phase of the flight where every part of your body hurts, but it does make it shorter and less severe!).  By ‘long’ flight I mean over ten hours.

We ate everything, we stayed at nice hotels, we did touristy stuff, we loved it.

Car: I had to buy one when I moved to Hell in 2008.  Paid it all off on my junior professor salary.  It’s slightly the worse for wear at the moment, but still going quite strong.

house down payment:  Nope.  Since we moved to Paradise, we can’t afford a house.  I am just as happy renting in a place that I love, and I’m glad I didn’t try to buy in Blasted Wasteland.  Because now I would own a house in Blasted Wasteland.  Ugh.  Or I would have had to unload it on some other poor sap of a junior faculty person and then they’d be stuck there.

retirement:  After some time off between jobs, my retirement account is a bit anemic for my age.  Yipes!  But now that I’m employed full time with benefits again, I’m going to try to make up for lost time.  (I know that compound interest means I can’t, really, but I can only work on the future.)  Starting in Jan., I’ll be putting THE MAX you can put in each year.  It’s kind of a scary-large amount of money.  But it seems like the right choice.  My overall retirement amount is very small so far….

How our joint finances work:  Big changes here, due to my unemployment and then re-employment, us moving, my partner changing jobs, and getting legally married.

We’ve got a joint account for savings for our next life adventure, whatever that may be.  We’ve already had a wedding and we’re priced out of real estate.  Maybe my partner will make a career change?  We also each have individual checking and savings.  My partner pays all the bills and occasionally I chuck some money his way.  He’s paying more than half, since his salary is about 2.3 times mine.  I’m on his health insurance, which is way nicer than the one at my work, and turns out to be the same price or cheaper for much better service.  We are each other’s beneficiaries on stuff like retirement accounts and life insurance (free through work).

We used to have method one of sharing finances, but these days we have no spreadsheet at all.  One big thing that has changed is that with legally tying the knot, all our finances are legally “ours” instead of his-n-hers.  We still use them mostly as his-n-hers, which is fine, but our thinking is much closer to “enh, it’s your money too” than we used to be.  But now we’ll be doing taxes as married-filing-jointly, and my lower income will help offset his higher tax burden.  Because we had some complex tax things go on, I leave the taxes up to him, because his job had a bunch of wacky tax implications with stock options and things I do not understand.  Maybe in 2016 our taxes will be simpler and I will go back to understanding them.

So, uh, yeah?  How are your finances?  Any changes in the last 5 years or so?

I bought shoes

My feet are so happy that they have new shoes.  This whole walking around and my feet not hurting thing is amazing.  Why did I put it off for so long?

I know why: I hate shopping and the few times I tried to buy expensive shoes I couldn’t get anybody to pay attention to me to sell things so I just left.  I am very high maintenance when it comes to shoe buying, in that I need someone to tell me what to get.  (Zappos was also a bust after several failed attempts at purchasing the correct size– I really do usually need to try things on.)

Which is why I now have a new $100 pair of sandals and then two $200 pairs of shoes after the shoe guy realized I didn’t bat an eye-lash at $189 for a pair of shoes.  It’s worth $200 to me to not have to try on a million pairs of shoes (assuming I could have found cheaper good shoes if I’d been looking myself) given that I buy shoes so infrequently and hate shopping so much.  I think the salesman got an extra kickback from the $100 Cobb Hill sandals as well, but I’m ok with that!  My feet don’t hurt!

How much was the damage?  $527 for three pairs of shoes, including tax.  How did I spend that much without blinking an eye?  Well, right before getting them I deposited a travel reimbursement check for $538.  It’s like the money was already spent!  Yeah yeah, I know, bad thinking. But I only buy shoes once every few years. I need these mental tricks to keep from being a miser.

And I did put off buying shoes for far too long.  I mean, my feet were hurting because my two pairs of work shoes were worn down because I have had them for YEARS.  Since before I got pregnant (I have a three year old), and possibly quite a while before that– I can’t actually remember when I got them.  Similarly, my brown sandals that I love but are no longer made were falling apart.  (You may remember I replaced my black sandals for #2’s wedding, but it’s too cold to wear them to work!)  When you have two pairs of work shoes, two pairs of sandals, and a pair of hiking boots… they kind of need to be replaced more frequently than I’ve been replacing them.

So that’s me.  I spent a lot all at once on super expensive shoes that I will wear for far too long.  Am I frugal?  Am I a miser?

What I am is someone who should buy shoes more often because she shouldn’t have to marvel at her feet no longer hurting.

Do you put off any purchases for far too long?  What gets you to finally spend?

 

I suspect I might be a time minimalist

A lot of folks seem to be overwhelmed with everything they’re trying to do in life.

I often feel a bit overwhelmed at work, but since my brain shuts off after a certain amount of hard thinking and I start making mistakes, I hit actual hard limits on work work, and am thus forced to do things that are not part of my regular paid labor.  But I don’t feel overwhelmed with the things I need to do in non-work.

When I look at the lists of things that other people are trying to fit into their days… I realize that there are a lot of things that I just don’t do.  I don’t get in a morning jog.  I don’t work out after work.  I don’t clean the house (except when company is coming).  I don’t have a particularly onerous commute.  I don’t watch much tv and I’m way behind in Netflix watching (we really ought to decrease our subscription).  We don’t do date nights.  I don’t do mani-pedis.  I definitely don’t do book clubs.  Nor do I do girl’s nights out, except the occasional once every two years shopping trip.  I’ve been considering getting my hair highlighted because I don’t need to look old when I’m not teaching, but have been turned off by the time commitment even more than the monetary commitment (I noticed at a recent conference that my prominent female economist colleagues almost entirely have one shade of hair color– they dye but don’t highlight).  I don’t have hobbies other than the blog and mostly brainless romance novels (I’ve been assuming that my brain will be up to say, Malcolm Gladwell level non-fiction, while on leave but it really isn’t yet) at the rate of one or two a week (mostly before bed or while in the restroom).  We pile responsibilities and habits on our kids as soon as they’re able to take over them (DC1 most recently is in charge of cleaning hir bathroom).

I’m just not trying to do as much stuff as a lot of people.

I don’t think that’s better or worse than other folks.  Just like I don’t think having stuff (that you can afford) is in any way worse than not having stuff, despite what the minimalist movement suggests.  I try to pack stuff in at work and look towards my leisure time (including home production) to contain the chores I don’t mind doing (food, laundry, finances) and have everything else pretty much unplanned.  So it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out.  Maybe I am.  I’m sure I could fit more stuff in my leisure time if I made an effort to organize it, but I’m not sure that would make me any happier than being my standard lazy disorganized self.   Really, so long as I’m getting enough sleep and my kids are getting enough attention (and DH and I get enough together time) and everybody is healthy and happy and doesn’t smell too bad, we’re good.

I do, however, wish I were more productive and organized at work.  I’m just going to have to keep working on that.

Sunshine and answers to questions

A gai shan life tagged us with questions.  Here are our answers.

1. What’s the best thing you’ve purchased or been given in the past six months?

The services of my wedding planner

We just replaced the tires on our car.  That’s pretty cool in the way that we no longer have to refill the tires with air every 2 weeks.  I guess.

2. What’s your favorite snack? (No one gets to say fruit.)

I like crunchy salty things.  I also like dark-chocolate covered edamame and pretzels.  Cheez-Its go well with red wine.

But what if fruit is my favorite snack?  Bananas are quite possibly the world’s most perfect fruit.  Also I love apples and dried dragonfruit (and in season, what’s more wonderful than cherries?).  Other than that, chocolate and nuts.

3. What form of exercise do you hate the most. (“All” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Almost ALL of it, most ESPECIALLY if it’s outside.  Yuck.

Tie between running and tennis.  Both of these because I tend to pass out in the heat (really, just standing in a tennis court outside is gawd awful) and also running makes my lungs burn and my throat dry out and I want to die.

4. If you could afford/manage to live anywhere, where would it be?

Here in the same area where I already live, but with a lot more money so we could afford to buy a cool place in a cool location.

Paaaaridise.  Also with a lot more money.  :)

5. What’s the geekiest hobby or pastime you have?

There are sooooo many answers to this.  Right now I’d say Magic: the Gathering (a collectible card game).  Specifically, I only really understand (and play) a version called Commander or EDH (which I just found out stands for Elder Dragons with Highlander rules [There Can Be Only One of each card in your deck]).*

My first deck was built for me by my partner.  It’s easy to play but doesn’t win a lot (mono white).  All you do is put equipment on creatures and then attack.  Then I built another deck (green/white) with lots of help from 2 people, which is quite a winning deck if I pilot it right.  It’s a fast mana-ramp to awesome fatties.  Then I recently built a deck all by myself, which I am still trying to figure out how to tweak right.  Mono blue flying wizards.  I hate it when people take control of my stuff and then beat me with it (a danger with the green/white deck because it has huge creatures).  I don’t have the brainpower for more than 2 colors in a deck yet, nor do I have the working memory to deal with a deck with lots and lots of synthesis.  My partner tends to play this way but he has 20 years of experience on me; I’m doing well for a beginner!  If you have read this far without going into a coma then I’m pretty surprised.  Also I’m starting to get interested in card art; I like the Ravnica lands and some stuff by Veronique Meignaud, who hasn’t done a lot of art.

*Another form, drafting, is SUPER hard.  I’ve tried it but I have enough trouble when I know what’s in my deck beforehand!

When my free time isn’t taken up with kids, anime is my geekiest hobby.  When my freetime is taken up with kids um… my only two hobbies are blogging and reading novels.  Which do you think is geekier?

Feel free to leave your answers in the comments, or comment on our answers, whichever.