2014 – Getting a Handle on ThingsJanuary 19, 2014
I’ve been enjoying the clean slate of a new year. 2013 was alright – We all plugged along, and things were fine. 2013 had been spent on work, and college searches for Emma. But I wasn’t very intentional about things, and at the end of the year, I felt scattered and disorganized. The big things were good: kids, marriage, work. But I felt unhappy about the background things. So I tried to break it down:
- It’s ridiculous that I’m still fat. I am capable of meeting goals and working hard. Why have I been whining and unhappy about this for years? There’s no excuse.
- My house is a mess, and that’s ridiculous, too. I canceled our housecleaning in November because it’s $3,000 year that can go toward college tuition. After I lost that every-other-week spruce-up, things spiraled into chaos. I need routines that I’ve never really established. (It’s like I’m a freaking teenager or something.)
- $$$. I need to pay for college, and it’s going to be hard because I haven’t saved like I should have (especially while in BigLaw). My salary is smaller now, and that will mean I get some aid, but I will likely be responsible for at least $20K a year, and maybe significantly more.
So I made plans, and I’ve been implementing them, and it feels pretty damned good.
First, David and I have been focusing on healthy eating for a while – since at least August. We were doing very well for most of the rest of 2013, but the holidays hit us hard. So now we’re back to healthy eating, and we joined a gym. For two weeks now, we’ve had a new morning routine, and it’s harsh, but it’s working: my alarm goes off at 5 am, but I have to hit snooze twice. David’s goes off at 5:15. We leave the house at 5:30 on the dot. Work out for an hour, and come back home at 7 for showers and making sure the girls are out of bed and heading toward school.
Us going together makes all the difference in the world. If I were trying to do this on my own, I’d be hitting snooze 4 times, 5 times, and then “oops, it’s too late to go now.” But he’s more regimented than I am, and I’m accountable to him.
I certainly get tired earlier at night now. We are heading to bed at 10, instead of 11:30 or so. But that’s okay, too.
The only thing that will stop us is (a) if I have a trial or other work-related thing that requires me to get to work before 8:30, or (b) we get sick. (Which David’s body is trying to do right now, but we aren’t letting it.)
I’m very optimistic that this will help bring the change I need.
Despite being oh-so-very-tired in the evenings, I’ve also been working to keep up with the clutter and messes in the house on a daily basis. I’m making myself lists of “tasks” that I need to complete each night. I’m not tackling huge projects on weeknights, but doing little things. The list includes things like “clean off the living room end table” and “sweep the stairs” – just things I can do quickly but contributes to me being caught up. Once I’m home and tired and I think “the house is a mess” – it’s too huge and I am less capable of breaking it down. So I make the lists during the day, and at night it feels good to cross things off.
This worked well until I had a couple of nights where I had to work late, and I didn’t get to the tasks. But I can catch up on the weekend, and still be good.
On the money front – I put myself on a very tight budget. Not only saving every penny that I can, but also aggressively paying off debt. Personal debt is not factored in when colleges give aid packages. My car payment and credit card payments are monies that I will be expected to give to colleges. So I’m working to get rid of as much of that as I can before August. Fortunately, I don’t have huge credit card balances, and so I can make a real dent. With my plan, I should have no credit card debt by 2016. Law school loans, however, are a different story. Those are still there, in all of their $100,000+ glory.
I am kicking myself for not dealing with this nitty-gritty $$ stuff a year or two sooner, but I am going to cut myself some slack in light of the fact that my income changed drastically in the last 2 years, and adjustments were slow. When I first took the pay cut when I left BigLaw, it felt huge. Now, I feel like we’re okay, and we have plenty of $$ to do the things we need to do, as long as we’re disciplined. And we will be making some serious sacrifices – there won’t be a vacation this year, for example. I’m hoping that after this year (where I have some taxes to deal with), we can add the vacation back in.
But you know what? I really miss my house cleaners.