Saturday, December 31, 2011

'12 is going to be better.

That's what my uncle said after having a heart attack about a week ago: "'12 is going to be better." And really how could it not be after a heart attack? But I think 2012 is going to be my year too. I start art school on January 17th, I'm going to get my vaccinations so I can become a nurses aide eventually, Chris will get through another year of school ... yes, this coming year ought to be a good year. But it's going to be a tough year--you know why? Because Chris and I are instituting ...

THE GREAT YEAR OF AUSTERITY!

There were so many reasons I had to get off Facebook. One was that I just couldn't stand watching yet another one of my high school friends purchasing a home while I was stuck in perpetually-broke status. Don't ask us about our credit card debt--we won't tell you how bad it is. We're stuck in dead-broke renter mode with no signs of recovery in sight. So screw you, old high school friends who can afford houses. We're paving our own path.

I did my New Years resolutions on the blog last year. This year we're just focusing on the Year of Austerity ("Operation: Hair Shirt" for those of you familiar with the great British comedy "Yes, Minister"). But what is this going to entail, you may be asking? First, most money will go to paying down debts. In addition, we've been terrible about giving money to church since our return from Marfa, so strangely enough our Year of Austerity includes a return to tithing. My experience has always been that the more money you part with for a good reason, the more God seems to give back to you. That's a little "Prosperity Gospel" (which, seeing as how I'm Orthodox, you can guess how I feel about that), but it's been true in my experience. Moving on, all purchases save the usual groceries and gas have to be approved by the Committee, which naturally consists of the two main members of the household. Dogs and cats do not get a vote. That's just how it goes.

We're taking inventory of our massive piles of stuff, and clothes are coming in as the #1 thing that we don't need anymore of. (Should I face the unfortunate reality of a faulty chair tearing a hole in the butt of my jeans, the Committee will undoubtedly approve the purchase of a new, reasonably-priced pair.) The #2 thing we don't anymore of is film, followed closely by cameras. Time has allowed me to sort out which cameras I enjoy using and which ones lie around collecting dust, so to eBay I will go (eventually) in the hopes of making a little money off the massive collection. Lots of excess will be toted off to the local thrift store, which will also be the first stopping point for things we need. Books and CDs can be sold.

My friend Bre once talked about a "pantry challenge," where you can only buy fresh fruits and vegetables and things like milk and otherwise live out of your pantry. We've agreed to give this a shot for Lent to help de-emphasize that the season isn't just about not eating cheese but also about using money and food more wisely. I may blog more about that as the Lenten Spring draws closer.

I should add that we're not in dire straits. Money is just massively mismanaged in our house. So on this the last day of 2011, I've made my final purchase of some books, and that's the last thing I plan to put on my credit card for a long time. Here's to a better '12!

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