Always tweaking something!


Day 2390

Ought to add some detail to that little quickie I posted last night.

I was sitting in the church classroom where we do our Al Anon meeting. I had plenty of time to kill after our counseling session. Managed to grab some Chinese for dinner at the local Wegmans , did the NYTimes crossword, drove the 6 miles from one town to the next and STILL got to my meeting about an hour early. Grabbed my laptop, did a quick scan of wireless networks in the area, latched onto an unprotected network and got in some surfing.

No, I didn’t hijack the poor trusting souls router and change their SSID or password. That would only force them to do a reset to restore the defaults, after which I think they might be interested in learning how to secure their link. No point in messing with free wireless, right?

Aaaaaannnnyhow. I am counting myself fortunate that I had the opportunity to break my awesome news to Cindy in the confines of the counseling session. I think that helped both of us to keep our undoubtedly strong initial reactions & emotions in check. There was a lot of awkwardness and periods of silence as thoughts percolated. It was as uncomfortable as you could imagine while it also went as well as possible. Rather like getting a bad tooth pulled. Hurts like a mofo but feels sooooo good when it’s over.

Except really, it’s only beginning. Knowing that I have 6 months helps. I’ll also have 2 months worth of vacation built up and some PTO I can use as vacation between now & the end. (PTO does not carry over and is not bought out at termination. Vacation IS bought back. I foresee about oh, 7 sick days coming up this spring & summer.)

Cindy and I have made plans to sit down tonight and formulate some sort of plan of attack and to look at areas where we can trim spending to increase reserves. Glad to have her involved. I told her last night I’d appreciate some support, but I didn’t know yet just what that support would look like. If she wants to show support by offering up ideas & strategies, I can’t turn her down.

Areas to trim – I can volunteer at the Y and get a single membership as ‘pay’. Telephone land line long distance plan is on the block. Just got a new cordless base phone that can Bluetooth to our Crackberry’s. Any future long distance calling can be done using our cell phone’s unlimited plan.

The cell phones unlimited plan could also be tweaked. Cut back on minutes, get a lower data plan – there’s several options there. Satellite TV? Getting trimmed to some sort of enhanced basic. No more premium channels. Netflix, Redbox and Hulu may become our new best friends.

We can drop 2+ percentage points on our mortgage, keep the end date about the same and trim $200 off the monthly payment.

No more buying lunches in the cafeteria at work. I’m sadly drawn to the pizza because of the ease & speed; but the pizza seems to be sadly drawn to my ass (gut actually) and I need to cut that down anyhow. And at $7 for two pieces of pizza, 8 oz of skim milk and a 16oz bowl of soup – I can make healthier and less expensive lunches at home.

At $3.63 a gallon (this mornings observed low price up here in the tundra), I can save about that much every day I ride my bike in to work – once it warms up. I’ve done quickie 4 milers to the gym when it’s literally freezing out and it sucks. Now may not be the best time to re-equip for cold weather riding (although an easy to remove/install rear rack would be nice – and I do have full length spandex pants) (NO, there will NOT be pictures. You’re welcome). Lets say I ride 3 days a week. At todays prices, that rounds out to $11 a week or $44 a month. Better tune up the bike!

So there are savings out there. Until yesterday I had little need to worry about them. They were all “luxuries I could afford”. Heh. Not so much anymore. Individually, some of them don’t look too big, but when spread over a month’s time, they accumulate nicely. Time to make a list and tally up the savings.

Now. If I could get Cindy to see her way clear to quitting smoking, that might save another $200 a month. I’m not entirely sure just how much she smokes, but at $10 a pack, it doesn’t take a lot. Plus, she’d actually be kissable. Right now trying to kiss her is comparable to licking an ashtray. And I’m not about to start up smoking again just to level the playing field (it works with garlic & onions) The longer term health benefits could be staggering too.

It’s possible that between now & the end I could put away a months worth of pay in savings from the few things I’ve listed. Eliminate the 2 time a week we go out (or order out) to eat, (maybe make it 2 times a month instead), watch the silly impulse buying and squeeze value out of everything. Then, when I hook up with a job as the CEO of an incubator group that specializes in promoting bowling, golf & biking on internet TV, I’ll be that much further ahead.

On the flip side I’ve heard horror stories about local engineers that have gone 18+ months looking for a job. Were they setting their standards too high? Was there really nothing out there? Were they initially just choosy mothers that lost out on the few opportunities available?

Can’t be choosy now. Keep thinking I’d like to be a long haul trucker. Maybe do work installing environmentally friendly energy upgrades to residential property. Saw a job selling & installing solar panels. I need to do an inventory and discover whatever it is I love to do so much I’d be willing to do it for free – then figure out how to get paid for doing just that thing.

Well, something besides that.


5 responses

  1. I’m in awe of your organization and planning during such a trying and stressful time.

    One of the BEST ways to cut costs is to use those coupon sites and closely monitor your food budget. Cooking ahead, buying in bulk etc. can help you keep that food budget under control. With four kids I have to be VERY frugal to keep us on track.

    Good luck!
    Little Ol’ Me

    March 9, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    • bikinfool

      Hey little ol’ you,

      The organization stuff is all on the surface. Trust me, underneath is all turmoil. Planning is good, execution is better. I gotta get the procrastination bug beaten into submission and act.

      We do a fair amount of cooking ahead just to make weekday meals easier. We also cook extra so there’s left overs for lunches. If I behave and only have a single serving for dinner.

      Got to check out the coupon sites, but we usually get our store brand for boxed & canned goods, and we eat a ton (almost literally) of fresh fruits & veggies. Not a lot of coupons for that. Farmers markets baby!! Only 2 months and we can think about planting outdoors!!

      March 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  2. If you can get buy in, you can accomplish a lot in 6 months time and not really even feel it that much. A little extra planning and some allowances, literally and figuratively, to keep the resentments at bay can really work wonders.

    It is an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole work thing, for sure. Sounds like you are approaching all of it soundly without freaking out.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    • bikinfool

      Didn’t broach the subject of smoking, although that would be one of the bigger savings opportunities. We did discuss all the other possibilities and decided to go after them all. Why not? Less money out of pocket is always a good thing.

      Have to admit I AM freaking out just a bit on the inside. I have very mixed emotions about work. Easy to rationalize that yes, I need to keep working until I can find a new gig. On the other hand, my motivation has dropped to near zero. Gotta work on that. Amongst other things.

      At least there’s bowling tonite.

      March 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

  3. GG

    From one procrastinator to the other….make the lists, I know it helps but make the list manageable. Sometimes I make lists that I’m very proud of! The act of doing it soothes me, gives me a sense of control. But then the list is too long and I just can’t bear it…. maybe make a master list and then break one item out to tackle. Of course you may not have the sam issue as I do but hey! Maybe this ramble will help someone 🙂

    Oh! Could the wife switch to a lower priced brand. I’ve read a lot lately on harm reduction theory….I know best case scenario is that she quit smoking but I wonder how giving up that crutch could set back any progress she could be making on the drinking….

    I’ve said too much I know. Feel free to tell me to zip it.

    I need to cut grocery costs as well. Ugh.

    Thinking of you!

    March 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

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