I’ve been gone for the past few months, in large part, because I haven’t been a very happy camper. My finger injury (back in February) took at least a month to become even semi-recovered (I will take a picture at some point: it has a pretty small external scar, considering. But, underneath, the nerves and muscles are still a bit messed up and I am still, for example, learning to type with my finger again.
Then in March, we got evicted from our apartment. I will tell the story later, but it was quite unpleasant.
And then there is my job. There are several posts worth of work on that one. Let’s just say it is a job that is technically pretty easy, but is, somehow, the most stressful and unhappy place I’ve ever worked.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project on Slate.com, one of my favorite sites. She updates her blog frequently with stories, interviews, and tips.
One of Rubin’s tips for unhappy folks is to identify the problem(s). After some thought, I realized a few months ago that my primary problems are:
1.) Living in an unfinished house. After the eviction, which was not our fault and could not be avoided, we had to immediately move in to our construction-zone house. At this point, we don’t have drywall, insulation, heating, or a real shower. I tried to deny that these factors were making me feel unhappy for awhile (trying to keep a positive attitude!) but, you know what? They are. Now that I’ve identified the problem, we’ve made small steps to fix the problem.
a.) We’ve moved all of the tools and construction supplies OUT of the front part of the house (that we are living in). Not having to step over saws or staring at stuff I need to return to Home Depot when I step in the front door has made a big difference.
b.) We’ve bought some furniture. We lived in a TINY apartment for years (400 sq ft), and we had a bed, a couch, a desk, a desk chair and a kitchen island. That was all that would fit!
We now have around 600 square feet of usable space and we filled that space with canvas folding chairs and a plastic table that we bought at Sams. It made the living room (and temporary dining room) look like a campsite.
Last weekend, we went to Ikea and bought some real furniture: a comfy chair and a real dining table with four very comfortable chairs. Now our house really feels like a home! We made dinner last Sunday and had people over, and, for the first time, I felt like I didn’t have to apologize for where I live.
c.) We’re trying to get the house to some sort of stopping point within 6 months. I think it is going to be difficult (especially due to budget concerns) but doable. Sitting down together and making a plan made us both feel better (believe me, you begin to think that these projects will never get done after awhile).
2. Money Concerns. Isn’t money always a problem? Basically, we’ve been trying to finance the construction of this house on our own, and we’re are in quite a bit of CC debt at the moment. It seems like every time you turn around on a house you are spending 10,000 dollars at a time. Plumbing? 10,000 dollars. Stucco? 10,000 dollars. Roof? 10,000 dollars. Framing? 10,000 dollars. Pretty quickly, you begin running out of tens of thousands of dollars.
We financed some of it (about 20K) on a credit card (AMEX) with a fixed low interest rate. This credit card has recently informed us that they are raising our rate (despite no late payments or bad behavior on our part) to 15.99%. Wait a minute.. what? I thought fixed meant you couldn’t change the interest rate? Well, apparently, they can. They just have to send you 30 days notice, and there’s no opting out.
a.) Got out my copy of the fabulous program “You Need a Budget!” I haven’t used it in awhile because, to be honest, I’ve been trying to avoid reality. Now I have a handle on what our finances are and we can try to plan accordingly.
b.) Started making major efforts to pay off the AMEX. Once it’s paid, it’s getting canceled and I’m never, ever using them again. So far, we’ve got the 20K down to about 14,700. We are getting some cash from our landlord (still hasn’t given us our deposit back or paid us for the 1/2 a month we missed due to being evicted) and I am selling one of our cars, and hopefully we’ll be able to pay it off within a reasonable period of time.
c.) I negotiated at my current job (I was being severely underpaid) for a raise and will soon be getting yet another raise (more on that later).
3. My job… oh, my job. Well, that’s another post altogether. I feel like I could write a novel on the topic! More later!