Category Archives: writing

Thread on our Lower-Middle Class Family

It’s been a while. We added a new child to the family in October so I’ve haven’t had much time to blog. The following is actually a series of tweets from yesterday. I did make a few small grammatical/clarifying/organizational edits, but it’s basically a series of 15 tweets:

Looking at our income and all these tax numbers…

We are basically lower-middle class. A one income family with 3 kids.

From all the talk, one would think we are dirt poor and cannot survive. Yet we do. Pretty comfortably, I might add. Here are a few thought as to why.

  1. The only thing we owe on is our house.
    1. It’s descent size but not massive. Two kids will share a room until one of the 3 move out. *gasp* And we prefer it that way, shocking I know.
    2. We only have a house because my husband (as a single man) purchased a town home way below his means. And we lived in that “semi-inconvenient” town home until we had 2 kids and the profit of a sale would cover a house down payment.
    3. We also don’t owe on school loans because we bought nothing but needs for several years. (All extra money went to pay them all off.) Not having those helps tremendously.
    4. We drive 2007 & 2008 vehicles. No loans on those. One was bought used, with cash (other is a hold over from single days)
    5. While we use credit cards for convenience, we never carry a balance.
    6. Having little to no debt (just the house remember) frees up a lot of money every month. Less locked in payments and less waste to interest
  2. Having only one income provides opportunity for saving money
    1. I cook most of our food (healthier and cheaper). I have the time to clip coupons, find the best sales, and make meals from scratch. It’s a lot more difficult to do this when time is limited
    2. Our monthly budget for gas and clothing is lower than most. Not only do we drive less, we don’t need work clothes (helps that our one income earner also works from home)
    3. We don’t pay for any child care (except an occasional date night)
  3. Probably the most significant, we define “comfortable living” very different than most
    1. All of our needs are met (first!) Food, clothing, shelter, water, power, transportation, these items are always covered. We recognize this and are extremely grateful that our income covers the basics. Some are not as fortunate.
    2. We have such great peace of mind that the basics are covered, we get to really enjoy when there is extra to cover the fun stuff.
    3. We value getting a deal. We truly enjoy finding deals and bargains. We love shopping thrift stores. We love store brands. It doesn’t make us feel “less than” because we don’t value the pride attached to brand-name or new. The reverse is actually true. It makes us feel like we are smarter than others wasting money.
    4. We get to live our value of people & quality time over stuff. We trade money and a second income (which buys nicer stuff) for what we really want – joy, peace, love, less stress.
    5. Our idea of fun is different. We do lots of free activities with the kids. We drive for vacation and have adventures on our journey (see things you miss on a plane)
  4. For me, growing up as a preacher’s kid has impacted my world view in regards to money
    1. I trust God will provide for my needs. First and foremost, spiritual needs, but also physical needs.
    2. We (similar to my upbringing) have a wonderful community and support system. Should something terrible happen financially – we know our God provided support system would step up. And we do the same for others.
    3. Not having much money as a kid, I saw my parents work to cover needs and then some. We were loved and didn’t feel like we missed out.

In summary, our world view regarding money is very different than most.

Because of that, we can live comfortably with less. Practically speaking, we work hard to live this way. (Physically, emotionally, and intellectually)

The resulting freedom: Absolutely Worth it.

/End of Tweets

***Long time readers will know this, but I’ve blogged extensively on how we got out of debt. Starting in Jan 2012. We paid off 46K in 22 months. If you want to read about that, look for the “by the number’s” posts. To be fair, we were dual income for most of that time, pre-kids.

*PS: In the blog post editing page, I got the code to do a nice ordered alphabet list nested in an ordered numbered list. (Point 1. A, B, C, Point 2. A, B, C etc.) It’s driving me crazy that the actual post isn’t reading the code correctly but I don’t have time to fix it. Sorry. “Hashtag Three Kids” ;-p

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Filed under budget, car, clothes, debt, family, food, politics, writing

wordless

Ironically, that’s about how I feel today. Yet I blog.

Too much going on; not much happening.

Not enough time to do anything; Too much time to waste.

Too many things to say; not enough words accessible to say them.

So many emotions to express; not enough tears left to spill.

That’s just how it is sometimes. That’s just how it is today.

Mostly, I think I’m doing alright. I think I’m just plain human.

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The end of Summer (hours)

Today was the last day of Summer hours at work. Shucks. Does this mean fall is now here? Is Fall weather coming soon? I hope so!

I’ve been muddeling around with words again. Mostly in my head.  I really need to get them down on paper.

Something I don’t think I’ve mentioned is that I finally started my book.  Well, I actually started it about two years ago… but I didn’t get very far.  I’m not ready to let you know it’s premise yet, other than to say it’s a fictional story set in Seattle.  (No – it’s not about baseball.) 

finally, sticking to the post title theme about summer and parenthesis.  I’m going to go see (500) Days of Summer tonight.

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stag⋅nate

Derived from “Stagnant: not advancing or developing” the verb Stagnate means: “to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing; to be or become sluggish and dull.”

Verbs are action words, but this particular verb is built on a word that means the exact opposite, the lack of action. The lack of movement. How peculiar.

What happens when you build a verb around such a word? You get the reverse affect. You get backwards movement. You find that standing still is not good enough. Not only is it not good enough, it produces increasingly negative results. Thus, you are no longer simply standing still. You are moving again; moving backwards.

I examine the meaning of such a word in an attempt to  measure my current life movement. What direction am I going? What direction have I come from? And more importantly, have I unknowingly started to stagnate?  

Over the last several months, I have been wondering what’s next. I have noticed the tendency I have to “be idle; exist in a changeless situation.”  

With that in mind, I have taken baby steps forward. And now, it’s “Go time.”

Do not misunderstand me. I am both not taking drastic steps nor am I doing this on my own strength or gumption. The steps I take are just small, simple ones. But every baby step forward pulls me out of stagnation. Each time I submit to God to move closer to him, to follow his directions, even if they are a little scary or worse, contain an end that I cannot logically calculate, I am compelled to take another step. 

Two of my steps are moving and serving. I will be moving in October to live with one of the girls in my community group, and I have begun serving with the Student Ministries program at my church. Each step small. Each step pushing me forward. Each step combined with another small step, wards off the foul stench of stagnation, which ultimately leads to decay and death.

We each have but two choices, slow to a standstill and end up in reverse – dyeing or crawl forward to life. I chose life. You? What do you choose and how will you begin to see it done?

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Goal Setting

Do you set goals? I do. In my senior year of high school, we had an assignment to write down 101 goals. Some were big, like the places in the world I want to see in my lifetime. Some were small, like the calculus test I needed to pass the same week I wrote down the goals.

I still have my 101 goals and over the last decade, I have added 94 more. (I know! Only 94 in ten years!?!?) So, how’s it going? Well, out of 195, there are a few that were not met or the issue and life circumstance changed in such that they will never be met, but I am happy to report that 66 goals have been reached.

Some are absolutely imperative to the way I experience life. Such as the goal I set on 9-28-03 and finally reached a year and a half later on 4-3-05. My life would not be the same without that Box set of the Extended DVDs of The Lord of the Rings. Other unmet goals are as equally important, such as that Mystery “who-dunnit” dinner I have yet to participate in. Still other’s are completely out of my hands. “Living to see the Mariners win the World Series” might seem like a stretch some seasons, but it’s there, written with ink in my goal book. I will do my best to see it done. On a serious note, some big things have been accomplished, education goals, financial goals, my trip to the UK, and living in Chicago for a second time. If I write it down and say it out loud enough, I begin to believe it.

Why do I say all this? Because last night I added a couple of more goals. Number 196 is to correctly complete a proof for a newsletter. And on a much grander timetable, perhaps against my better judgment and flying in the face of several decisions I have made in the past two years, Goal 197 finds me starting my doctorate on or before my 50th year of life. I figure that gives me enough time to pay off my current school loans. Maybe the long pondered doctoral name of Dr. D. E. Bauslaugh will not be relevant by then, but that’s not the really the point. The point is that step one of both the newsletter and a doctorate has been taken. The rest is just another step or more away.

If you’ve never been a goal-writter-downer, I highly recommend it.

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The End of the Day

At 5:30 on Tuesday, I nervously awaited the scheduled pick up of an overnight letter. As the minute hand ticked ever closer to the six, I was fearful that UPS was not coming. Still burned into my mind was the false hope I experienced at 4:50, I saw the truck drive by, but it never came into the parking lot.

The truck came down the road again, but I was skeptical it would do anything other than pick up the items from the drop box down the street. (The drop box is always the backup plan, except that in this case, the last pick up for the box was also 5:30 – if our scheduled pick up did not come, it would be too late for the drop box.) I handed the letter off to Lance, thinking, that if someone needed to sprint down the road to catch the truck, he would be much faster than I. To my pure delight, the truck did not pass the parking lot; it turned in. And this lead to the most magnificent event of my entire front desk experience.

Did you know they are considering a new event for the Olympics? It’s called “the 3m Man to UPS truck relay,” an event that I happened to miss while looking away for a fraction of a second. I caught a glimpse of a quickly moving brown truck through our parking lot. My first thought was that we missed him, which then changed to confusion. How was it that Lance no longer held the letter?

In fact, Lance had actually won the above mentioned Olympic event. With letter in hand, he stepped off the curb to hand the letter to the UPS truck driver. He thought he was saving the driver some time. Right. He thought the truck was going to slow down. Wrong. He did not realize how much time (an extra 2.326 seconds) he was saving the driver. The truck continued to barrel down the road, not slowing down. Lance leaped onto the curb, lifted up the letter, and jammed it into the outstretched hand of the driver, who was still going the same speed, had rolled down his window and stuck out his hand. Apparently it was amazing. I missed it, but Lance experienced it and Slay witnessed it. Gold medal.

So ends my time up front.

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Cement Patch Please

I discovered a down side to my favorite reason for being up here. Once again, I was fortunate enough to notice the large chunk of missing cement with my eyes, not my chair wheel.

Wednesday was a bit calmer than Tuesday. It went by pretty quick and I don’t really remember it so it must have been ok. As to be expected, both Thursday and Friday were quiet.

I decided Friday was the perfect day to try using a scooter for the first time. Apparently, the task is more difficult than it appears. On my first attempt, I inadvertently started to do a wheelie, which resulted in a near crash. The next several tries resulted in either a shaky scooter (which is impossible to have good balance on) or going so fast I could not turn. Fortunately, I was confined to a small space so my idea of “fast” is extremely relative. Also in the fortunate category, I quickly learned how to jump off to stop. Sweet. Thus concludes the five minute long event which will hereby be referred to as the “Great Scooter Olympics of 8-8-8.”

Will I be acquiring a scooter of my own any time soon? No. I think it would look one part silly and another part ridiculous to wear a helmet and knee and elbow pads while working at a desk job all because of the interoffice transportation.

The rest of those two days were as follows:

And I answered the phone. And I learned how to listen to voice mail. And I proofed a few sends. And I went home at three (on Friday, five on Thursday).

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