Monday, April 23, 2012

Survival Mode

Sallie and I are going to go into survival mode over the next few months.

I'm sure most of you have heard by now, but the transmission on our Accord was going out. That on top of the other things we needed fixed (timing belt, normal belts, AC, side view mirror, OBD connectors) we were looking at about $4500-5000 in repairs to maybe get our car running for a few more years. Plus, we just dumped about $900 in there to get it to pass inspection. It was time to move on. (On a side note, we found out that our car was a total at one point, but the title was wiped by a salvage yard, so we wouldn't have been able to sell it anyway.)

So we had to get a new car. That on top of student loans, medical bills, and normal bill stuff our pocket books are going to be hit hard for the next few months. But I'm trying to stay positive.

Instead of looking at this like, "wow, we're broke" I'm seeing it as an opportunity to simplify and get back to things I used to love doing.

So I've been looking at my life objectively over the past few days and figuring out ways to cut back on spending.

The obvious one is not to go out to eat every weekend. Sallie and I really enjoy trying new restaurants and having a glass of wine, but that obviously can add up quickly with two people eating.

So I have a bunch of beer I've brewed sitting in the basement. That'll save some money there. But we're also going to get the garden going again with easy to grow veggies that we eat often. We still have some seeds from last year for lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers. (Which never grow) I'm going to start making more bread instead of buying it. And instead of buying chicken, beef, and lunch meat every week, we'll just pick one or the other, and start eating things like tuna and PB&J.

Basically, we're going to get as "do it yourself" as possible. This weekend, I'm making pizza dough and sauce from scratch, and for about $10, we'll have 6 mini-pizzas that'll last us several meals.

We're also going to keep the AC off for as long as possible, and when we do turn it on, we'll keep it at like 78 degrees instead of the 75 we had it at last year.

Then there are easy things, making sure lights are turned off, unplugging things that aren't being used, take shorter and less showers, go outside and walk around the park instead of watching TV, etc. All practical things that we've taking for granted since graduating.

Then extra stuff we had is getting cancelled. Netflix is going to stream only, Xbox live isn't getting renewed, Sallie's Birchbox and magazine subscriptions are all getting cancelled. They were nice, but an un-needed expense.

I'm also going to use this to get back to free activities. I used to walk around the neighborhood picking up trash and listening to podcasts, which I haven't done in about a year. I'm going to start writing again. And I'm going to attempt to hook up with that brewer and maybe help out in the brewery.

So staying positive, deep breath, let's do it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dreaming of Money

We all do this. I know we do. Because when the Mega-millions was happening, everyone had these fever dreams of what they'd do with the money.

For Sallie and I, we paid off all our debt. Paid off all our families debt. Gave the most amount of money we could give as a gift to all of our immediate family members each year so they wouldn't be taxed.

What we did with the rest of our money was sort of a split decision. We love St. Louis. We take great offense when people say its dangerous or that we're somehow sub-par to other cities. (Chicago, I'm looking at your residents.) St. Louis is a great f-ing city.

So one of our plans was to start buying some houses that are for sale or vacant in neighborhoods surrounding us. We'd pay to have them fixed up, get some landscaping done, and then sell them to respectable families for a cheaper price. This would help out families that might be in need, would move more people to the city, which then starts increasing the rest of the neighborhood. The city starts spending more money fixing up sidewalks and  extra emergency response workers would get hired on, the schools would start getting better, and after a few decades, the suburbs are back in the city.

We'd also buy up one of the warehouses around us, renovate it, open a restaurant/micro-brewery. We'd be terrible business for ourselves, because I would feature all St. Louis beers at our bar. That's right, I'd bring the competition right into the building with us. Schlafly, Civil Life, 4 Hands, Square One, hell, maybe even AB.

The other scenario has us moving to Denver or maybe somewhere in the north west. We'd get part time jobs, hit the mountains every weekend, travel to Europe, and basically do what we wanted. With that much money, we'd be set the rest of our lives.

I do this even on a smaller scale. There's a job I've applied for that would pay me a fairly significant more amount. I've not even had my first interview for it yet, but in my mind I'm thinking, it'll be "X amount more a month." First month, we can fix the leaking pipe and pay off X amount of medical debt. Second month, we could get that tree in our backyard chopped down and pay off X amount of our personal loan.

It's weird that we all do this, but it does seem to take some daily stress away just picture your life with this extra money laying around. It brings a weird smile to your face even though you know there's almost 0% of a chance that it'll happen.