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.
DC1 and DH watch Paddington Bear in preparation for seeing Paddington 2 in theaters. It is too scary for DC1 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.