Dogs or Dollars in it’s current iteration has existed for 6 months (Yay!), which means I’ve been back at Corporate America for 9 (Yikes!). Ever since my less than triumphant return, I’ve been thinking about this as a two year plan. It’s been my inner pep talk actually. “You can totally do this for two years. Just two years.” Am I almost 1/2 way there? The days drag, but the time flies, if that makes any sense. Where does the time go? More importantly, what am I doing with it?
If it’s really going to be ‘just two years’, I gotta have some sort of game plan, an exit strategy. I was just re-reading the lessons learned I wrote 3 months in to my current term of employ. Largely, I still agree with all that. Although, as time wears on, my glasses are less rosy. I have to work harder to appreciate my Corporate Servitude. They (the Corporate they) just saw fit to give me a raise, and not one, but two bonuses. That takes care of my tax problem, and funds my 401(k) just that much more. Hooray…? I am an ungrateful cretin. Money is swell and all, but I have a hard time being excited, when I don’t feel the money has anything to do with me. I’m less invested in my job than I’ve ever been. Can’t anyone even tell?
As I think about leaving and plot my escape from Alcatraz, here are the realities I continually butt up against.
The Husband’s Employment Situation. It’s not getting any better. He is fortunate in that he is still working at all. Since the first of the year though, it’s been weeks off and weeks on. Unreliable to say the least. I’m done worrying about it. If I have to do my forty, I’d just as soon have him home. We’ve got projects galore, and life is generally more pleasant when one of us is around for appointments, errands and general house up-keep. Granted, I’d like that person to be me, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Money as a Motivator. Doesn’t work for me. Sure, I like money, and I certainly want to keep my boat a float. Personal investment is what it’s really about though. That’s why I worked so much harder for $15/hour than I do for my ridiculous hourly wage now. That’s why I scoff at bonuses and raises. Beyond generally having ‘enough’, it’s not about money.
A Second Leap. I find myself drawn to these grandiose acts. Do I really need a plan? Sometimes I think I don’t. As I look back at how we actually were surviving before, it fuels my faith that I am infinitely capable. At least when it comes to the fine art of figuring it out. If I leapt, before I looked I’d still land somewhere else. Maybe not where I set out to, but that can happen anyway, even with months (or in this case years) of intricate scheming. In other words, I’m trying not to get stuck in analysis paralysis. If I never figure out the perfect way to leave, I still need to leave.
If those are the realities, that The Husband’s income is variable, that I won’t be happy with my job regardless of what they pay me, and that we will, in fact, survive, how do I incorporate those into my plans? You’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
Lower Cost of Living. My most active pursuit. How can I get our base operating costs low enough to compensate for The Husband’s current employment situation and my own lack of motivation for money? How can I do that with things like Dog Spending, Grocery Budgets, and Big Fat Mortgages? This is why I can’t quite give up on refinancing. Currently, it offers the most bag for my buck in exchange for the pain in hiney it has already proven to be. If I want to get really honest, we should probably move. Perhaps, even engage in some sort of short-sell situation. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. For now, we will refinance, which stands to lower our expenses about $400/month.
No Money Now. As in, there isn’t any. With our significantly higher income, I still struggle. That’s on purpose. Mostly. I don’t want to have gobs of disposable income. I’ll just find things to spend it on. I’m no longer considering this level of income ‘normal’ so I’m tying it up in savings, really big car payments, and projects.
Self Sufficiency. Speaking of both projects and lower costs of living, I am using this time of plenty to develop some handy skills. Handy skills that should come in, well handy, when there is less money rolling in. Skills like chicken raising, gardening, thrifting, bartering, food preservation, and amassing my stockpile of canning jars. Even on the cheap, all this costs money. Right now it’s an exercise in building my frugal arsenal, and laying the ground work for a cheaper life with more time.
What Career? You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Nope still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Is Dogs or Dollars really the question anymore? Somehow, I’m not letting such a trivial thing like “work” stop me. Peh. Work. Schmerk. What ever happen to sabbaticals, I ask you? I guess that’s referred to as ‘unemployment’ now. I’m leaning toward the idea of time. Time to think and plot and chat. Time to write my own agenda. Time not in a cubicle to (once again) figure it out.
Hard Work. All of it. It’s hard. Schlepping myself to the office everyday and sitting there for eight hours is it’s own special brand of hell. A uniquely different brand than dealing with irate Pet Store customers, which is still completely separate from trying so hard and still killing your tomatoes for reasons beyond your control. Whatever you do, its difficult and will be frustrating. Any of it. All of it. Sometimes. We get caught up in ‘if only’, but that gets us nowhere. Remember that it’s all going to require hard work to get where you’re going, and when you get there, it’s still going to be hard work.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Months and month of blogging and indentured servitude, all I can do is keep making the small decisions, that will hopefully lead to the success of much bigger ones. Maybe this will take longer than 2 years. Maybe I’ll make some completely different call between now and then. Maybe, I’ll even come to terms with my Corporate Destiny and stay put.
Not bloody likely.