Posts Tagged ‘budget’

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Pre-Acceptance Freak Out

January 28, 2012

Friday was a busier day than I anticipated. I thought I’d have my 10 am informational interview, and then a restful day at home, maybe with a phone call or two.

But my 10 am “informational” interview felt more like a real interview, and then I checked in with a friend who works at that firm for a while.  He ended up being close with one of the associates at the offer firm, so he put us in touch to chat.

I went home, spoke to this associate for an hour, and then called next week’s firm to see if I could move things up, and then had real work to do, and then decided to engage in negotiations with the ex to get child support up to snuff. Then I freaked out, a la paycheck calculator.

Here are some of the results:

  • Associate at offer firm gave a very nice and candid view of the firm. I ended up even more excited to work there. It was good.
  • Next week’s interview can’t be moved up: the firm is in talks with a senior person to come in as a partner. They were thinking if he does come in, they’d bring me in as a junior person to support him. But timing can’t be rushed, and the area isn’t my first choice (and isn’t – really – what my resume indicates I would do, so …. ????). I’m keeping the Thursday lunch on the Calendar for the sake of the “longer view.” it’s not going to be an option for me right now.
  • The Ex was less resistant than I anticipated. I’d done a good job for the past year or so in prepping him for the reality that I would not be at big firm forever, and therefore wouldn’t be able to continue to discount child support forever. I think we can avoid court.
  • But the paycheck calculator was mean to me. 

This will not be easy. I’m nowhere near having to make huge changes, like moving out of my house or selling my car, but the series of little changes are going to hurt. 


A friend joked today, “you won’t be able to run out and get the newest iPhone and iPad anymore!” not that I’d need a new iPad. Mine is great. But if the iPhone 5 comes out ….  


No, seriously. The clothes budget will be an issue, the food budget will be affected. Things like $200 athletic fees for sports will start to hurt. 


We like Calistoga Springs sparkling water, the orange flavor. David tends to buy a case of it now and again, bc it’s cheaper by the case. I was having a glass last night, and wondered “can we keep buying this?” I asked him how much it was, and he really didn’t know. “do you think we will have to look at things that closely?” he asked.  Yes. Yes, I do.


I may need to have Lemon quit her voice lessons.


And the  there’s my other hold out – Third to house and car – the housecleaners. A $200/month expense that I just can’t imagine giving up. I’d rather cancel cable. Having a lower income doesn’t mean I have a lesser job. (Odd as that may be, but the reality when you start out in BigLaw). I don’t have any more time to scrub and polish. The housecleaners don’t tidy – they keep up with the floors, the bathrooms, the dust bunnies under the radiators. And they force us (because all of our personalities require force) to keep up with our personal messes on a twice-monthly basis, so the dust and grime underneath the clutter can be addressed.


Before we had them, I was a sad lady. A mad lady. Weekends were unhappy times because I was resentful that I spent the week working and then the weekend cleaning. So maybe I’d sit on the couch and pout, instead of cleaning, and things were yucky. Then we’d plan to have friends over, and I’d have no choice but to tackle the weeks’ (or months’) worth of grime, and I’d go on a rampage. Cleaning and bitching would go hand-in-hand. I would, essentially, turn into my mother. And like the generations before them, my kids and husband would hide in corners somewhere or leave the house. 


I can’t think of anything other than these housecleaners that has increased the quality of my life to this degree.  Maybe my iPhone. Maybe – but it may have detracted, really, because of the, well, distraction.


So I will tenaciously hold on.


And we will tighten the belts and see how it feels.


And David is still on the job market. It was easier for me because the legal market here is picking up, but other markets are still slow.  I also am currently employed, and he, in contrast, has been managing the home for the past 5-6 years. He got a masters in that time, too, but even that is somewhat in the past. And in the time that he’s been looking, he kinda caught pneumonia – so, things have been slower.


Once he’s settled, I think we will be even closer to ok. 


And so – there I am. Freaking out, but still optimistic. Could be worse, right?


I could have to move … And I do not.

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Want, Need, Wear, Read – What we did

January 3, 2012

As I’d mentioned previously, I caught wind this fall of the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” gifting philosophy.  Kind of simple, yet really useful.  Of course, we likely always give our kids gifts that fall into some combination of these categories.  But having the categories clearly stated at the outset helped David and I to frame our ideas, and helped us to function with an actual list, instead of just throwing money around willy-nilly.

When we first heard about it, we thought, “okay, 4 gifts per kid, one per category.”  But that’s not what we ended up doing.  It was hard to do that for a few reasons.  First, I wanted to give them more than 4 gifts.  Second, it was tough to keep balance between the girls.  Lemon wanted either a set of Harry Potter DVDs or an electronic keyboard.  But Mouse wanted a make up caddy (I so hope she grows out of this phase . . . ).  So, $70-$100 for Lemon, and $25 for Mouse.  Not fair!!

So David and I thought – okay.  We’ll EACH get them one gift from each category, and make sure things balance out around the whole.  It ended up working out pretty well.  (Of course, us “each getting one gift” is a fiction – since it comes out of the same budget. And while he did find ways to even out Mouse’s wants, he wasn’t thrilled that Lemon ended up with both the keyboard and the Harry Potter DVDs – even though both combined came to well under $150 thanks to some amazing sales).

One little cheat I had was their stockings.  I added an extra thing here or there that was more substantive than your typical stocking stuffer.  Mouse had a pretty nice wallet and a watch.  Lemon had a similarly priced necklace.  They both had movie theater gift cards ($20 each) – and, of course, Broadway tickets to see Anything Goes.

I also had a last-minute cave.  The girls and I really enjoy the t.v. show Gilmore Girls.  So far, we’ve seen one season, and ended up watching it by “renting” episodes via iTunes.  Not cheap.  It annoyed me.  They want to watch season 2, but we haven’t kept up with our hard disks from Netflix, and it’s not available by streaming, and I refuse to keep “renting” them, and if I were to “buy” them through Netflix, my hard drive would explode.  Out of curiosity (because we were talking about ordering disks from Netflix to watch in CT), I checked the price for the entire series on Amazon, and it was . . . lower than expected.  And because I have Amazon Prime, I ended up accidentally clicking the “quick purchase” (or whatever it’s called) button, and waa laa!  An unplanned “want” that wasn’t on the list.  “But it’s for both of them!  It’s a joint gift!”  I whined at David (after the fact).  Despite the caving, it is still remarkable that this was the only instance.

Even though we did more than 4 gifts, we still felt like using the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy helped us to stay sane in our gift-buying, and to make reasonable, well-rounded lists.  Seriously, last year, I just wandered around the mall and bought things that looked nice (ended up heavy on the “wear,” and honestly, it didn’t even turn out that they even wear the stuff that often).   This kept us from doing that (ignore previous paragraph).

We will do it again next year, I’m sure.  Depending on how all this job stuff turns out, we may very well be forced to stick to one gift per category – we’ll see what happens.

Funny thing about this year — I’m sure that we spent well under HALF of what we spent last year (if not 1/3), and still, the girls walked away saying “This was the best Christmas ever!”  Pure success.