Thursday, December 31

Bye, bye 2009

I know it's the end of the year. So I should have some deep, philosophical, retrospective look at all that has been in the last 365.

I got nothin'.

Frankly, it's hard to remember much that happened since the summer, when we realized in mid-July that we were going to move in late August. I knew, abstractly, we were going to need to move. Tim's skin was only getting worse. But suddenly it became very, very real.

By the time we got here, we were exhausted and bickering. We were also more than $3,000 deeper in debt, thanks to moving expenses. At the worst point, we got up to almost $12,000 before we finally started making some headway. from the move. The next month and a half saw the debt increase When we had to buy things we'd left behind -- hangers, furniture, etc -- And the first few weeks we were here took us closer to $4,000. Then we got the news that my contract work might be ending.

I went into an emotional fetal position. Tim freaked out that he had ripped me away from my support system. I think (okay, know) that he was also feeling pressure: If he didn't get well enough to work, the move was for nothing. It wasn't exactly helping him plunge into the job search.

During one of our bigger fights, I told him that he had to get over it. He was more comfortable here, had almost no flare-ups. That, alone, was worth the move. But the macho pride thing is a hard one to shake.

Things got worse before they got better. We fought a lot. Sometimes about justifiable things. Other times, just things. Then we had that one big argument. At least, it started as an argument, turned into both of us blaming ourselves, and finally became an actual discussion about how we could change this dynamic.

And, for once, I listened. Crazy notion.

I thought I had been listening all along. But my knees kept jerking so hard, they must have gotten stuck in my ears. I knew he had priorities that were different from mine and that he was sacrificing them for me. But I couldn't let myself change goals. It was too scary. I was so terrified of debt -- mainly because I feel powerless, not being able to earn a full-time wage -- that I felt the only way to protect myself was to put blinders on to anything but debt.

That isn't to say I didn't make compromises. I did. But they were more about accepting that I couldn't change some of his habits overnight than about truly understanding his needs and priorities.

We're still working on things. I'm reading up on ADD. I'm making concessions to his needs, including spending on some things while we're still in debt. (That's a big, terrifying step for me. I figure, if it's that scary, it's probably the right thing to do.) He's trying to talk more rather than just react by acquiescing/shutting down.

So we will enter 2010 on a relatively high note. In fact, I'm really proud of the work we've done since fall. I've started to work to make my husband happy on his own terms, as well as mine. I am beginning to truly accept and understand the implications of my Bipolar II diagnosis. (Mostly, that it explains a lot of things that I thought were simply personal failings.)

And, most pertinent to this blog, our debt has seen some real improvement. As of mid- to late-October, our credit card debt was nearly $12,000. Later today, a payment will take it down to $8375. So we're exceeding my goal of $1,500.

In other words, my main resolution is keep on keepin' on.

We are on track (barring any huge derailments) to pay off the cards in June. It turns out that my contract work will last at least until then. After that, it's anybody's guess. But that should allow us to at least clear the credit card hurdle.

I want to keep learning about ADD, through books and blogs. It's bringing a lot of insight -- both for me and Tim. He never really learned much about the condition, except that he had it. So we're finding out which traits are attributable to ADD, as well as how to use its advantages and cope with its disadvantages.

I need to work up to a healthier lifestyle. My cholesterol is up high enough, my doctor wants me to go on medication. I want to try the old-fashioned way first. That means fiber (check), exercise (sorta check) and healthy eating ([tumbleweed blows across an empty lot]). I want to start in small increments, to make it more feasible in the long term.

As for financial goals, it's hard to be too specific until we see how things go after June. I do have some generalized goals after we're done with the credit card debt:

  1. Student loan: We rehabbed the surprise loan. This will be our main priority. Currently, it's about $3,500.
  2. Increase my IRA contribution: Right now, it's $25 a week. I'd like to double it once the cards are clear. After the student loan is gone, I Tim to start one.
  3. Emergency fund: I can't bankroll this quickly. But depending on our income, I want to put away at least $100 a month.
  4. Puppy fund: I've been promising Tim we could get a dog once our debt was paid off. But it won't be instant. We have to save up an extra pet deposit, plus the cost of the dog.
  5. Pay back Tim's dad: When he and I first got together, Tim got $3,500 from his dad. We paid back $600 of that before we had to focus exclusively on our credit card debt.
  6. Pay back Tim's mom: When Tim was in school, his mom took out a loan for him. It defaulted, and she was able to make some sort of deal, since she's on disability. We don't know how much, but we're pretty sure it's under $2,000.
  7. Pay back my mom: My mom lent us $2,000 to help us consolidate our credit cards. She is doing okay financially, so she insists that we pay back Tim's parents first.

So that's what 2010 has in store for us. What about you guys?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In considering a dog, please consider vet bills. If you get a puppy, you'll need 3 or 4 trips to the vet for "puppy shots". Plus the cost of getting the dog spayed or neutered. Call around to local vets/animal shelters and ask their fees. Please don't get a dog if you can't afford to provide the health care it needs and deserves.

January 1, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Blogger Abigail said...


You're right, I wasn't clear. I meant to say that I wanted to have the pet deposit, cost of the dog and some general money set aside for vet visits and, if necessary, treatment for injuries/illnesses.

Tim is firmly wedded to this idea, too. His parents put off getting their last dog looked at for months and months, as a tumor grew visibly on her head. They said they couldn't afford it. In the end, it turned out there was nothing they could have done anyway, but we didn't know that as we watched her head swell and distort. It was awful to see.

I told him that this was why we were waiting to get a dog; this was why we needed to be out of most of our debt first. And have a little in savings.

January 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM


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