Finances and contentment

OK, I had several amazing topics in mind this morning for posting but instead a discussion on a local chat board has been on my mind all day and after chewing it over with the spousal unit, I figured I’d blog about it and see if anyone else wants to weigh in.

On my local discussion board, someone interested in moving to Maine asked about the costs of living in Maine because they were stunned to realize that Maine was not as cheap as they thought it would be. Well as a transplant, I weighed in with my two cents and the fact that my experience is that living here is costing me way more than living in Chicago ever did.

For starters, while buying a house is cheaper (the one huge perk), the fact is taxes are pretty damn high, there is only really one major insurance provider and rates definitely reflect that (this is a state where the insurance company can’t really turn you down so all the other providers blew this pop stand and the one remaining company has sky high rates). Unlike living in a large urban area, a car is a necessity and the state has all sorts of sneaky ways to tax you and charge you but more importantly salaries are on the low side so even though Mister Spousal Unit and I have advanced degrees and in Chicago had a comfy life here we do struggle to keep our ends meeting. No two ways about it.

Anyway another poster said yes its a rough place to live but native Mainers are ok with it since nobody makes any money so everyone makes do. (I am paraphrasing). Well the remainder of the conversation made me ask myself is the problem that I want too much?

See, one of the reasons I busted my ass as an adult doing undergrad in 3 years while juggling a husband and kid is that I was tired of working at jobs where one bad thing happened and bam your financial standard of living went downhill and next thing you know, you need help from the state. I saw my folks do that dance way too many times. Like many folks, I bought the dream that education meant financial security. Problem is I had to finance both my undergrad and graduate degrees with student loans and well lets just say that somewhere in Kansas or Arkansas my student loan debt could buy you or me a house.

The thing is I am 35, and Mister Spousal Unit is 40 and frankly I am tired of paycheck to paycheck living since while being self employed has its ups, the checks don’t get automatically paid on the 15th & 30th. The past 6 years we have and I am being honest here had to finagle things like eye exams, doctor visits, we are in that state of being solidly middle class yet we have jack shit. The hubster hasn’t seen his family in almost a decade except for my father in law who will fly out here and I have been home to Chi-town in 4 years…why? Too damn expensive to go anywhere.

Right now our 11 year old car is on its last legs and a sista is freaking out since its either take out a loan for a car I really can’t afford meaning more financial juggling acts or buy yet another piece of shit.

Now maybe my fellow Mainers don’t mind this sort of hand to mouth existence and at 25 I might not have been too bitter but at my current age, this shit is getting old. I don’t want an Escalade and a trip around the world on a yearly basis but I do want all the basics covered and some extra left over so that when I need to take a jaunt to NYC or Boston to get my locs done, its not this huge affair that requires major planning. I want to know when the kids need shit, I can do it and not think about it or put off a bill for a few weeks to get shoes and clothes for fall.

I know there are folks who look at us and think well damn you are middle class, I live off less, and yes that is truthful but as someone who has worked hard, I want, no I need a break too.

So maybe I am asking too much as far as financial contentment but what says you? Personally while money doesn’t always create happiness, the fact is it costs money to live and I am having a hard time being happy when I am always making financial miracles take place.

8 thoughts on “Finances and contentment”

  1. OMG, I soooo agree with Shay on that first comment. I would like to get my hair and nails done on a regular too but damn – prices ain’t gettin’ cheap and they way the economy is now, a sista cannot afford a $75 wash and flat iron bill every 2 weeks. That’s bullshit.

    BGIM, I completely agree with you too. I’m in Cali and it’s hard out here even bein’ married and havin’ 1 kid too – your situation sounds so much like mine it’s ridiculous. Hot post!

  2. Og, I think you hit it on the head for me. I have tasted life knowing what its like for everything to not be a struggle and the reality is I really don’t want to go back to that place. 6-7 years ago I needed several thousand in dental work done and we were able to take care of. Right now if I need more work done (a pretty strong possibility) there is no way I can just pay for that. That is the type of stuff I am talking about. Years ago when we bought our old car (died prematurely due to lack of maintenance), coming up with a down payment didn’t require figuring out ways to to rob Peter to pay Paul. That life is old and truthfully I am not there.

    Its funny hearing you are thinking of a MBA, my masters is in Organizational Management (a softer version of a MBA), the only reason I got that degree rather than following my bliss is because I did not want to be on a sure path to financial misery for the rest of my life. The liberal arts while ensuring a well rounded individual pay for shit.

    @ Kit, don’t even get me started on heating costs. We heat with oil up here and the price is $3.75 a gallon multiply that by a 275 gallon tank that gets filled every month from Dec-April and we are talking pain. Thankfully, I just bit the bullet and locked into a payment plan to spread the misery throughout the year. Yet when we first moved here, oil was just a hair above $1 a gallon. Plus I live in a 100+ year old house, only so much insulation you can do to keep costs down.

    @ Keith, glad to know we aren’t the only ones rocking the old car, yeah I just want a car made in this decade. Our car is a wreck, small, cramped and on its last leg complete with peeling paint. LOL

  3. Girl I feel you, paycheck to paycheck living is NOT the business. My move up here was to ensure that I would get closer to my goal of no debt to remove it from my neck when making decisions about my life. I mean only having my house note with my earning potential is going to allow me to finally be able to feel ok about taking on the 80 grand an executive MBA will cost me or even moving away to another city for 2 years and going to get my degree from a top ten school. It’s the main reason I’m grinding it out as homesick as I am. I might not leave here complete debt free, but I will leave here with most of my debt paid. I was lucky though I went to undergrad on a academic scholarship, my loans were mostly to cover living expenses, books and the other things that go with undergrad life, by working in the work study program that helped me cut what I owe too.

    Anyway, I do not think you want too much, you just want to be comfortable and have money in the bank in case of emergency and enough money to make financial decision that make sense instead of under duress, such as like the time needed to buy a good used car you can finance or at least enough to put the old one in and get everything fixed at once as well as regular maintenance etc.

    I’m with you it’s why I went to school and why I am considering get my MBA. While I don’t have any children as the oldest of my mother’s children I constantly worry about taking care of her as she ages. She has really planned for her retirement and it’s theoretically 10 years away. I don’t want her to have to work ‘til she’s 80 and I don’t want to have to work til I’m 65 either.

    I agree sure we can all make do with less, but we have to be ok with what that means. No one wants to struggle once they realized they were struggling. I’m sorry once I have experience the small difference I have in a higher economic bracket I don’t want to go back and believe me I’m working hard to make that happen, but OFCOURSE if I should fall on hard times I know how make do, so that’s a bonus.


  4. I hear you and I feel you. I have just paid off all of my credit cards and finnally have some real cash in my bank account. It’s been a struggle. My car is 13 years old…so don’t feel bad. I plan to buy a car next year..A used one, but at least one from this decade…lololololol. Hang in there,
    we are all in the same boat.

  5. Lisa, I am laughing because years ago I was that sista in the shop every week getting my hair done. I swear going natural almost 9 years ago has saved me tons which is probably why I am having a rough moment now. My poor locs desperately need some professional TLC, its been 3.5 years. I think what makes what I am feeling rough is because when I had more I sadly must confess I lived a lot like the folks you speak of. Now, I am so damn frugal it hurts. Yet everything has a season, so I am gonna hang in there.

    Chi-chi, your words mean a lot. I started this blog honestly just needing a place to blow steam off and its great to know others actually look forward to my ramblings. By the way you are a crafty inspiration for me. I am actually thinking of taking a knitting class this fall.

  6. Hey there Shay! {waves}

    I hope you got the invite to my blog by now! I think you have! (smiles)

    There has been a lot of conversation online about money. I think that many people define their success by the amount of disposable money that they have. This emotional attachment to money affects their self-esteem when money is tight.

    I know sooo many friends who claim their money is “so tight” and they don’t know what to do! Please….their cable bill is $800 a year…turn off the darn television! They get their hair done every week at a salon $3,500 a year…wear an afro! They want to carry the latest purse ….$500+….stop trying to be admired by everyone for buying the latest phone gadget… how many pairs of shoes do they have?? They never want to repeat an outfit in a month because they like being admired for having a banging wardrobe.

    I know THIS is not what you are referring to but there ARE quite a few deluded sistas out there who really convince themselves that they can’t get ahead when their OWN priorities are keeping them behind.

    I can’t tell them these things because they want to sit and whine about the money they don’t have. Suze Orman wrote a book last year, “Get Your Money Straight”. Excellent book.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

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