Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Don't Do The Thing I Did

So I'm kind of in a soft reboot of my blog and it's finally starting to get to the point where it's showing up on the front end. I got a new YouTube channel. I ordered new camera. I subscribed to creative cloud so I should be able to do some cool stuff with that.

It makes me want I'm going to reflect how I got to this point.

Let It Go
So about a year ago I had the worst argument with my father ever. It was pretty much that scene in How to Train Your Dragon except without an impending dragon attack to break up the tension.

There was a lot that pissed me off in that moment but the gist of it is that I felt I wasn't getting credit for any of the stuff I was doing. My dad was going on about how I don't have a job (I do, 3 depending on how I look at it). Anyway that job that I don't have was kind of stressing me out at the time.

Moreover despite being stressed out I was working more hours than usual so I had a couple hundred more dollars in my pocket than I was used to. Sitting down and listening to all that made me think. I have more money, why does my life still suck?

Sidenote: That argument made me realize that part of the reason why was/am so frosty towards my extended family has nothing to do with them and maybe I should cut them some slack as it's unfair for me to avoid them like the plague because I want to avoid the kabuki act I had to play for the sake of my parents, especially the ones too young to pick up on what's going on or haven't been around to add to my ire. And maybe having some outside perspective during that argument rather than furiously fomenting in my own juices might have done me some good.

In other words that right there is why Frozen joins A Boy Named Charlie Brown on the list of movies I watch when I need a pick me up.

Damn it. I can't listen to that song without tearing up a least a little. All the same I'm a natural introvert so I'm not all of a sudden going spend my nights hitting up the strip club. But maybe I shouldn't dismiss family events out of hand like I normally do.

The Pizza-Router Scenario
The answer to that question was what I call the pizza-router dilemma. Although this is somewhat exaggerated it's what was going on at the time. Let's say I have $100 of not allocated to some bill money. That's not enough money to change my life but it is enough to warrant some decisions. And after some thought I realized this was the pattern. I'm not going to save money indefinitely. Within a few months there is going to be something I need or want and unless I massively increase my income to the point where I have money I can squat on that $100 will be gone, The best I can really hope for is try to make sure that when I do spend it I spend it well.

Back to the Scenario. I needed a new router. I knew I needed a new router for over a year. But I didn't buy one because it felt too expensive. All the same over the course of that year I ordered plenty of pizza which isn't exactly something necessary to maintain life. Over the course of that year I was pretty sure I spent more on pizza than it would have cost to buy that new router, something that would have made my life easier if only slightly.

Why was I more comfortable spending the money on pizza which was ephemeral than on something that would have bettered my life?

Because pizza felt cheaper. When I make that $20 purchase on pizza I never thought about how much money I spent on pizza in the last three months I just thought. I'm hungry I have the money and everything else I could spend it on is waaaay more expensive so why not pizza. But over time those small decisions added up. In the grand scheme of things I would rather spend $100 on one new router than on five pizzas but I needed allow myself to feel secure in the idea that that was I was doing. That that $100 is money I had to spend and if I spent it smart now I wouldn't spend it stupid later.

Let's Get To Work
To facilitate this I more or less carried out the plan I outlined in this blog post while I was still fuming about it. I made a spreadsheet of everything I could see myself spending money on and tried to categorize, subcategorize and then prioritize it. Doing that made me realize even if I hate spending money there are some things you just have to buy. Toilet paper, trash bags, tooth paste. And trying to pretend that you won't have to throw down on those only means that when you do you'll be forced to take the most expedient, but not necessarily the cheapest or most efficient option.

Mapping out all the ways I'm likely to spend money allowed me to cut costs and slice off time but I'll get to that in a bit.

I wanted to be able to just look at a website or my phone or whatever and be able to get a number. One number that would amount to how much free unallocated money I had to work with.  And at the time the best way I thought to do that was through the bank, which would keep track of what I spent in relative real time.

So I spent the year opening up a checking account for each of the major categories as well as one to just house money I hadn't figured out what I wanted/needed to do with yet.

Decisions Decisions
Doing that I realized that I had more wiggle room than I thought. I'm not rich but some of the stuff that was off the table all of a sudden became justifiable as things that would save me grief if not money down the line.

And slowly these decisions compiled and compiled. $10 of wiggle became $50 which became $100. Still not enough to move out but enough to make my life demonstrably easier than it was and to make me less angry than I usually am.

As March approached I started to get over my financial lethargy. I could do stuff all of a sudden. I could be proactive. I could shape my world to my will!

In the mail I found a preapproved credit card and all of a sudden all my rhetorical plans weren't rhetorical anymore. So I decided to make a bet with myself on myself. All of these mad cap schemes of mine would pay off in the long run. That all of these projects and improvements will pay for themselves so I've been doing ...stuff.

Cleaning the garage, building a small library, ordering supplies to make my day job a little easier and building a budget for the blog.

All of a sudden I have plans.  Plans with considerable risk. But plans all the same.

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