Back on Day 132, I shared something a bit personal and embarrassing: I'm unemployed. In a nutshell, I didn't get any of the scholarships I applied for and my teaching contract with UCLA expired. With the budget cuts at UCLA, funds are tight and there weren't enough teaching jobs in my department for everyone. I applied for a few community college positions, but they weren't in the cards. Apparently we're in the middle of a recession or something! Thankfully, I have another UCLA teaching job lined up for April (and a possible very-cool-but-not-for-sure-and-I-don't-want-to-jinx-it-so-I-won't-tell-you opportunity in the works), but in the meantime I'm feeling like "the weakest link" in my marriage. (Michael, by the way, is a research "post-doc", which means he is basically "under-employed" or at least "under-paid". Such is the glamorous life of academia!)
I've "deserved" new clothes every few weeks, twice-monthly mani-pedis, and nice(ish) bottles of wine when I go out to dinner with friends. Michael, on the other hand, has "deserved" café coffees in the mornings, restaurant dinners on multiple weekdays (w/ microbrews, of course), and driving to work when he should ride the train. We've both "deserved" to have our own beloved cars, and to live in a 1,100 square foot apartment in San Francisco. Oh, and we just got married in a beautiful winery wedding with 130 guests, and went on a 2-week honeymoon in Hawaii. Yeah... life has been pretty good, and we've "deserved it" since we're both hard-working people. Except we can't afford all of these things. We've been chipping away at our savings each month, and it's time to make some changes before we end up in debt.
That was the embarrassing part. Here's the plan we came up with to get back on track:
|Where's E.T. ??? |
(Probably out looking for a job, or Taking Over Wall Street!)
Step 2: We're selling both of our cars, to be replaced by ONE sensible and less-expensive vehicle. I write from home, or volunteer at the About-Face office a few miles away, so I'll be biking a lot. (Good thing I totally adore my bike. Remember when I got it back on Day 84?)
Step 3: I applied for some of that "you're covered if you get hit by a car" health insurance, and we're purchasing generics of all prescription medications from Canada. Yes, seriously. Step 3 is saving us at least $300/month. And I was approved for my health insurance a few minutes ago!
Step 4: Michael is forgoing his morning lattes at Caffe La Stazione, and his evening microbrews at Serpentine.
Step 5: I'm putting myself on a fashion-diet. This means ZERO clothing purchases for the next 6 months. Ditto on makeup and mani-pedis.
Step 6:We're re-vamping our dining habits to be wholly based at home during the week. (I thoroughly enjoyed making use of my former-anorexic-food-obsessing skills to come up with a list of 10 affordable and healthy dinners, along with an accompanying "inventory list" of groceries which we'll keep on hand. Thank goodness for Trader Joe's!) We'll still eat at restaurants occasionally, but as a special thing instead of an "I don't feel like cooking" thing.
Step 7: We've decided to entirely forgo alcohol on "school nights." This was a major "Oh, I deserve this..." habit, and one that hurt our wallets, waistlines, and mental health. (Why is it that 2 glasses of Pinot feel can so blissfully relaxing in the evening, but then wreak havoc on my nerves the next day?) Good riddance!!
Step 8: Appreciate how blessed we are! It's time for us to stop "getting what we want" in favor of "wanting what we've got!" And we have a lot: wonderful family and friends; our health; each other; a fun apartment in a beautiful city; we're not actually in debt (yet); at least one of us has a solid job (thanks Michael!). We are blessed, even without all those little luxuries we used to "deserve."
So that's our plan. I'll seriously mourn my car, but the part that's causing me the most anxiety is Step 5. A few years ago I gave up new clothes for a year to save money, but this time it feels different, thanks to my no-mirrors pledge. Living without mirrors has lessened the frightful reign of vanity over my life, but I've clung to my mani-pedis (and occasional new outfit) for that sense of still being "me". I've thought, I'm still fashionable! I'm still put-together! I still deserve to indulge in some beauty routines! (There we go again with that word, deserve) But now it's obviously time to push myself a bit further. It's time to find the "fashionable me" in my resourcefulness and creativity, rather than in new stuff. THIS - along with the pride of financial solvency - is what I deserve. But it's still a little scary. (Though not as scary as going into debt.)
Any bits of practical money-saving advice? (Words of encouragement and budgeting / unemployment success stories are also much appreciated!)
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