Applying the safety pads for Life

Usually, playing the game of “what if…” is just another way to drive yourself mad slowly.

In my teens: What if my hands never get better (the fibro was only in a couple places at this point)?
In my 20s: What if I’m too sick or crippled to work by the time I’m 30 (the fibro had spread every joint in my body)?
In my 30s: What if I have a family, then become crippled from the pain and have to stop working? What if (it’s only a matter of time, according to the USGS) we get hit with a huge earthquake and we’re not prepared? What if Little Bean is (any number of horrible things)? What if one or both of us dies in the near future? What if my brother deteriorates further, or hurts someone? What if my dad’s health fails because he won’t take care of himself?

Some things, I have zero control over. *ahem* Family and their health. Or their decisions that I think are terrible.

The rest of the time though, and usually it’s financially, it morphs into my To-Do List, because the answer tends to be “that’d be horrible! Now how to prevent it (or mitigate the pain)??”

1. What if one or both of us dies?

Estate planning, get our wills and trust sorted – there are hard conversations to have but PiC and I are getting to be more and more on the same page about these things. We have ourselves to consider, Little Bean to consider, our extended families to think of. And not just consider, we have to determine exactly who we would ask to take care of things in the event of our untimely demise: who would take care of Little Bean? Who would take the dog(s)? How will they be adequately provided for? What if one of us dies? What if both of us die?

Of course these aren’t FUN questions but I’ve had to consider these things since I was 19 and the primary breadwinner. Real life isn’t always a carnival unless this is the house of whatever-mirrors.

2.What if we lose one or both jobs?

Savings, steady as she goes – I won’t reduce our savings rate from at least 25% of our gross income, period. There’s nothing we want or need badly enough that we couldn’t cut somewhere else to preserve that savings rate because I refuse to compromise in a way that exposes us more to the risk of being poor and sick/disabled. I watched my mom live and die without savings, without choices, and without adequate care, I’m not doing it.

Investing, take some risks to grow our assets – As much of a cash hoarder as I am, we have to increase our income in ways that will provide a viable means of retirement income when the time comes. Research continues to effectively invest our income across a variety of vehicles, not just the stock market. Anything can happen and diversifying is one kind of insurance against any single area crashing.

In an ideal world, I don’t want to work a corporate job until I hang up my spurs, and I know PiC doesn’t want to either, so this serves more than one purpose.

3.What if we get in an accident/lose our home?

Insurance, speaking of …  – Every so often, I reevaluate not only if we can get a better rate, but also whether our insurance is enough for our needs. We carry car insurance, homeowners’ insurance and an earthquake rider. I’m also considering an umbrella policy.

We’ve been scoffed at for carrying an earthquake insurance rider and to that I say: Psh! I’m no fool, we can’t afford to cash flow the rebuild of our entire home and the cost to live in the meantime, and that’s the risk I’m insuring against. In an area where the USGS predicts a 99.1% chance of a catastrophic earthquake in the next 50 years, it’s hardly throwing money away.

4.What if our computers crash or die a fiery death?

Bills, Data, & Records – while I’m mostly banking and doing most transactions online, I don’t think our system is nearly ready for any number of problems. I do most of the bill paying, this needs to be more automated and organized so that PiC can take over if necessary. I do all our investing, he also needs to have easy access to the necessary information. And we need to make sure all our important records are not only digital, they’re saved in more than one place in case of natural disaster.

5.We live in CA, what happens WHEN we experience a real natural disaster?

Earthquake, Fire, & General Disasters – Where you have an earthquake, you have a huge risk of fire following. Just look at what happened in Napa, recently. We have a long way to go on this prep and I’m just getting things organized. We need an emergency kit for us at home, for PiC’s office, for the cars, and for the dog. (Seamus is really strong so he could actually carry his own emergency pack of food and water once I find one, that’s one minor relief.)  It’s weird how much easier it is to spend money on immediate needs even when I know this is something that just absolutely has to get done.

I’ve ordered some emergency food, but we still need food, water, some form of shelter, decent shoes, crank powered radio/charger thing, flashlight, etc. Basically add everything in this post with an eye to portability in case the house is damaged and unsafe; I don’t love the premade kits because of the need for portability so I’m taking some notes from the USGS recommendations.

Also, we need a plan for what we do when and if this disaster strikes and PiC and I are separated.

Think that’s enough to be getting on with? What’s on your mind when you start thinking What If?

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Net Worth: October 2014

DollarSign

Change from September: 1.38% decrease

Change from January: 5.12% decrease

On Money

I’m working away at Swagbucks to earn Amazon money for household, Little Bean, and dog things we need. Feel free to join using my referral link if you like!

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We lost about $17K in the retirement accounts. I probably picked a bad day to update the accounts as the market’s been very volatile this week. Ah well.

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Short term savings: I’ve always had a mix of savings accounts and CDs, a holdover from the high-interest rates days. Over time, I’ve winnowed them down to cut down on the complication of my day to day tracking. My last high-interest CD with Citibank is maturing next summer, so I’ll have to start thinking about where to park that next. I’ve got a couple CDs with Ally expiring in 2016, so that too will need a better earning home.

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Checking and savings accounts: Speaking of winnowing, where I used to have about 25 accounts (half because of the high interest rates, half because I liked to break out the destination of all that money), I’d like to only have several. I mainly bank with online only accounts now, but will likely hang onto one B&M bank for physical transactions. It’s possible we don’t even need that if I can break the habit of carrying the B&M card and take the online bank debit card instead; I’m pretty sure they waive all foreign ATM fees since they don’t have their own ATMs.

To date, I’ve closed 4 accounts with 2 banks and have 3 more credit cards to cancel.

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2013. Taxes. Have. Been. FILED!  HALLELUJAH. Now, of course, I need to clean up my notes for 2014 to cut down on the amount of prep and review notes that I give the CPA next spring.

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Stupid Money: Got another one of those fun surprises in the mail that feature a photo of your car and license plate. Technically it IS my car, but it was not driven by me. That’s right, this was another Family-Money-Fail. There should be a shower on confetti every time that happens.

The bright side? Rather than the $30 that the City of Orange once tried to get out of me when it was their toll booth that was out of order, this was only 45 cents and they let me pay online with a credit card without any CC fees. So that was the cheapest ding ever.

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Little Bean Money: Lauren reminded me of a thing I’d managed to let slip. Little Bean’s officially got a dedicated chunk of savings transferring directly out of my paycheck (and soon, PiC’s) into an LB savings account. This little cushion will be comforting and good practice for when that money’s just flying out the door.

On Life

Adding another dependent to the household is a whole lot of work. I don’t think I fully understood what I signed up for here!

We’ve been coping relatively well, I think, with all the extra challenges of my even-more decreased mobility and lack of energy, and still getting some of the cleaning and purging done around here so that’s good but it does feel like there’s a mountain or two left to climb before we’re materially ready.  I have no doubt there’s no way to mentally prepare for this sort of change, except to remind ourselves to be flexible. Over and over and over.

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Congrats to Jordann for an October NW increase.
SaverSpender had an increase despite significant spending & comes within spitting distance of a quarter million.
Alicia’s quarterly report shows some major progress.

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Terrible workplaces: A blast from the past

I was doing some back end blog work, going through old drafts and deleting them to clear out the archives etc, when I ran across an old memory that had me shaking my head all over again.

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After a colleague snooped on my phone and read my blog emails, I’d changed this blog URL and name to prevent her from finding the content. In the process, I also removed all posts that talked about work in any detail, and this was one of them (excerpts from what feels like a lifetime ago):

I work for the world’s least professional office.

I sat down and had a nerve-wracking chat with my bosses yesterday … It’s come to my attention that while I’ve been fussing about not making enough money, I really needed to bite the bullet as my poorness was really hitting me hard, psychologically.

No, I’ve never had to go hungry. But Ma always counts her pennies because it’s such a burden on me taking care of all their bills, and for some reason, that makes me feel like I’m just not doing well enough. So, take a dash of knowing that I’m absolutely responsible (it’s a cultural thing) for their uncertain futures, especially if they never manage to earn a living wage again, add three spoons of my own stress to knowing that despite all my work I’ve not secured any sort of future for them or myself when I’m ready to get married, and I’m constantly one foot over the abyss.

I racked my brains on the most polite, professional approach and borrowed heavily from Madame X’s article on how to ask for a hefty raise based on your merit and excellent performance reviews.

For many reasons, the worst of which was that I felt if I deserved it they would have already given me my raise, I didn’t want to ask. [Ed Note: I never felt this way again.] I didn’t want to admit that I needed it. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling even with the overtime, and I really didn’t want to admit that I didn’t want to work so dang hard just to make ends meet! No matter how true it was, I wanted (needed) this raise because I really truly deserved it, not because I was struggling with home life.

I said (almost whispered, honestly) that as much as I have wanted to stay here and continue learning and growing as an employee of this office, I had reasons to need to prioritize my salary and no longer had the luxury of choosing to trade the lower salary for the current work environment (which is the best it’s ever been.) I mentioned that I’d looked up average salary ranges for offices of our size, in our area, and with fewer responsibilities and that it was significantly higher than mine. While I didn’t expect them to meet it (as it would be doubling my salary)  that’s still a huge discrepancy in what I’m sacrificing in basic salary. I left it at that because I didn’t want to admit how much the sacrifice of a higher salary was hurting me personally and professionally. I also did make it clear that leaving (right now) is the last thing I want to do (because it would be a pretty stupid move to lose my health insurance and income when I have a small e-fund and so much stress and demand at home.)

I wanted this to be a professional plea, not a personal one. After all, in what employer’s mind does your rent or bills play a role in determining your salary?

Mine, as it turns out.

The boss wanted to know what the REAL reason was for this. He said that if I were happy in this environment why was I looking? Unless I was looking for a reason to jump ship, or else it had to be pressures at home that prompted this. He demanded to know the truth behind the matter, he feels like I’m too private which he hates because he wants this to be a family environment. If I have a need, I have to come right out and tell them what’s bothering me rather than hiding it.

Never mind that this is a place of business, not my personal therapist’s office… Since I didn’t want this to be a complete disaster I had to ‘fess up to the fact that yes, I’m experiencing a great deal of pressure at home and although I’ve been trying really hard to make it work, I’ve been fighting a losing battle for years.

Only in MY office does the illogical, personal crybaby approach work best. How am I supposed to learn good professional habits here??

Years later, I’m still shaking my head over that laughably bad recollection.

In that place, without a regular, formal evaluation process, there was no clear mechanism to ask for raises. That wasn’t my first job but it was the first non-retail job; asking for a raise in a unprofessional professional environment was that much more stressful.

Color me ever so grateful that I’m well out of a place where emotion trumps logic and professionalism.  I was young and naive, that’s for darn sure, but even then I recognized that whole situation stank.

I’ve had my fair share of experience with terrible workplaces and bad managers over the years but this particular chapter was special. And, as is so often the case, this is only one of the many incidents (spanning sexual harassment, employment discrimination, verbal abusive and unacceptable in the workplace behaviors) that I either experienced or witnessed with terrible people. But this is one that directly pertains to money. ;)

After several years of freedom, it’s easy to look back and laugh at just how awful they were as colleagues and as people; in fact, it was huge motivation not just to get the hell out of there but to grow my career so I’d never be so dependent on or forced to stay in close proximity to awful people again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with a horror story or two, feel free to share!

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In the dark of the night …

I don’t know about you, but 2 am insomnia feels pretty grim. I know how not to be an insomniac but doing isn’t always as easy as knowing.

If I were smart I’d be asleep right now.
If I were smart, I’d actually have stopped working at 930, and gone to bed then.

My body is stressed and it is showing in gross and sundry ways. You’d think this would teach me a lesson but instead I ponder what other new blogs I might read because I’m not going to sleep.

Willful insomnia, that completely makes sense. Especially when you consider that I’m going to be up in the morning to work again so it’s not like I’m under the impression that it’s a weekend.

I started reading Kieron Gillian’s Journey into Mystery and it’s good enough that if I pick up another volume I’ll probably not sleep at all tonight.

I consider an old Mercedes Lackey compilation, The Free Bards, because it is an old familiar friend and immediately crave cheese. Because it is firmly embedded in my mind that Rune gets cheese, bread and a carrot early on and I’m always receptive to the idea of getting a slice of cheese to have with my book’s character. Unlike John Scalzi who detests the mention of stew in these books, mentions of a traveler stopping at an inn for a slice of bread and stew just makes me want to make a thick loaf of crusty Irish bread and a pot of potatoey tomatoey stew.

PiC snores away and Seamus won’t even come into the bedroom at night anymore, preferring his living room bed (it is awfully comfortable) to the bedroom set up because my being up late keeps him up late.

I’m doing all the things you’re not supposed to: keeping the light on, looking at my phone, reading in bed at long stretches.

But sometimes you just have a hankering for your quiet alone time. I have alone time during the day but those aren’t MY hours. Those hours are for work and housework, thinking and doing. There’s so little time for puttering, pondering and just being. And maybe that’s just what my brain, and soul, want right now. While it can still get it, before an infant shatters the peace forever.

Or, more likely, I’m just not smart enough to be trusted to put myself to bed.

At least I get here. But LB is both of us at once: a night owl and a morning glory so I get the movements all night and as soon as I wake, sometimes before. I haven’t really been alone for months and LB is quick to remind me of that.

The dogs haven’t given me real privacy in years, I suppose that’s been good training for having an infant/toddler underfoot.

Everything aches from tip to tail. The counselor asked me today how the pregnancy has affected the fibro and I don’t know how to answer that exactly. My pain doesn’t come neatly categorized: these parts hurt because of the pregnancy and those parts because well, they’re just broken. This never ending backache, is it because of the new weight I’m carrying or is it just the backache I would have had anyway? And that odd hitch in my breathing and pain in my chest? Well that could be because of either.

Because everything hurts, with fibro and many things are weird as hell with the pregnancy, so how do you know? And I guess, what does it matter really? Pain is, like money, fungible. Applicable anywhere.

I don’t know if the counselor was reassured or not by my shruggy answer.

Still less, I don’t know if she actually believed me that I don’t recall the last time I had a drink because I rarely drink recreationally. I’m both too cheap to pay for alcohol at restaurants and don’t really care that much about it, is that really so unusual?

Little Bean proceeded to wake me every hour with gymnastics. That’s not a huge surprise.

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