A dryer full of money would do me wonders right about now. (P.S.: You absolutely must watch Breaking Bad if you haven't yet. It's amazing.)
So I'm stressing about money right now. I know, I probably don't have the right to complain since I was the one who made the decision to walk away from a steady salary last year (a decision I still don't regret), but I knew back when I made it that times would eventually get hard and now those times have come.
I feel like I'm living in some alternate dimension of the life I'm supposed to be living. Kind of like there are different variations of my life playing out all at the same time, parallel to one another, and I just ended up getting caught in this computer-glitch of a variation, the one that snarls savage orders at me that I must comply with, like "You will eat that top ramen and you will LIKE IT!!!" In this
Thankfully I'm not stuck alone in it all; J is also mucho stressed out, evidenced by my increasing reminders to "stop pulling out tufts of eyebrow" -- a bad nervous habit he has when things aren't so copacetic. (He's also got the added pressure of keeping up his grades to graduate top-third in his class next month, coupled with the general stress he's under on a daily basis to find a job post-graduation. Once he takes the Bar this summer I know he'll find the job he's been looking for -- and not have to settle -- but this still doesn't seem to raise his spirits. It also doesn't help that he's reminded of it all every afternoon as he chows down on his 99-cent turkey and cheese Lunchable at school like a fifth-grader.)
Not that we don't have padding -- we're selling some stocks this week to pad out our cash situation even more -- but it's disturbing how far money doesn't go in this country. (I guess it could be worse. I could be living in parts of Europe that, though beautiful, would result in me paying out the nose for everyday things like groceries while steeped in a land of 34% unemployment.) My part-time tutoring job pays well, but the hours are somewhat erratic and the semester ends in early May so those paychecks will taper soon enough. J is currently interning for free and taking no school credits for his legal gig at the SEC three days a week, so it's not as if he could pick up part-time work between the internship and his full load of classes.
Anyway it makes me really, really uneasy when our bank account starts to ebb, even though the cushion is still there. I'm a "buffer" kind of a girl and tend to get irritable when my finances tread close to my buffer. The bills are piling up and costs in the near-future are what are really getting us down. My private health insurance, his Bar class and test fees (about $5,000 total), our moving costs to get back to California ($1,500 for a Uhaul truck, not counting gas), and little costs are quietly adding up (i.e., his graduation invitations, cap and gown, Law Journal banquet tickets - $40 each, etc.).
It would be at this point in any sane marriage that a couple would crack under financial pressure and the relationship would fall apart. Luckily we aren't sane. Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger, I suppose. Like I said earlier this week: "If, as newlyweds, we not only get through law school, but also our financial situation this last year, then we're bullet-proof, kid." He agreed. Right now all we can do is laugh at the current circumstances. It helps that we find the humor in these even dire situations and can make light of our misery. It really does. Because the alternative would probably end up looking like a Shakespearean tragedy.
Needless to say I've cut out most everything I enjoy doing for the sake of saving whatever funds we have. This means absolutely no more shopping (I can't remember the last article of clothing I bought), no going to the movies, no traveling, no eating out (unless it's Taco Bell), no more concerts, no more happy hours, and no more buying whatever I want at the grocery store if it isn't on sale. And yes, I've become one of those people who reads through all my weekly grocery inserts and travels to each store to get the best price for different things on my grocery list.
I guess these complaints all lead in to my 28th birthday, which is on Monday. My last couple birthdays haven't been all that amazing and for some inexplicable reason I want to try and make this one special. Obviously taking a trip is out of the question, and now I'm wondering if we should even go out to a decent dinner. (Clarification: Technically we can afford a dinner, but in the effort of saving cash would we want to drop $60-$100 for one meal? Would I even enjoy the meal as I mentally balance our checking account with each margarita?) It doesn't help that J and I are attending a Law Journal banquet of his tomorrow evening that we had to spend $80 worth of tickets on, but I totally get that networking and socializing is part of the "education" at his school, and that establishing lifelong professional relationships with classmates there is part of the whole package. Still, $80 is $80.
So, this is where I'm at. I hate worrying about finances to this degree but I'm starting to think that the only way I'll stop worrying about money is if (when?) I'm disgustingly wealthy. Until then no amount of money ever feels like enough. Anyway I feel better venting about it and I know most of my worries stem from the cost of moving slash J taking the Bar. Putting down between $5k to $10k in a one month span is never fun, especially when I'd much rather take that money and save it as a down payment on some property. Or travel. But such is the way of life. Right now nonessentials take a backseat to priorities, but my chin is up -- I know it won't be like this forever.
Now, what to plan for my birthday?...