Head's up- this post is slightly more personal in nature and less food/fitness/health related. Well... Sorta, ha.
Earlier today, I got an e-mail indicating that the wages of state employees (me) would be decreasing in the coming months and will remain decreased for a year (who wants to bet a shiny new penny that it'll be much longer than that?).
Though the amount to be deducted from future paychecks isn't devastating, it was enough to make me close my office door and cry at my desk for a few minutes. I cried because I've been a financial mess for a couple of years now already, thanks to paying off a ridiculous amount of credit card debt (still have a couple more years to go on that, at least). The whole experience has totally changed my shopping habits (for the most part) and made me learn a tough lesson about credit and personal responsibility. While I try to remain optimistic most days, it's sometimes tough to swallow the idea of not being able to go on a trip of any sort any time soon or having to constantly refrain from fun [frivolous] purchases because said purchase may mean no gas money next week.
Before I go any further, let me say: I fully realize that things could be much worse and that I'm lucky to still have a job. I know others are not as fortunate right now. But, for the sake of my sanity, I just needed to take a moment to bitch and put things into perspective.
First, the bitching: Just when I was becoming accustomed to and content with living a frugal, mostly unexciting life, The Man has to come around and knock me down a peg (and today, seriously? while I was feeling good about running 5 miles this morning and watching hilarious crap on YouTube? on a Friday? what gives?). I recognize that I have plenty to be thankful for (health, housing, food, car, Doug, family), but on those days when I contemplate my finances and future goals (furthering my education, moving to Oregon, buying a house, etc.), it just seems like all of that is further away than it should be. And it makes me want to go back in time and kick my own ass for making such poor decisions. That said, that email was just a punch in the gut.
But now, some perspective: Part of why I accrued so much debt in the first place was because I was unhappy with my overweight self and literally tried to buy happiness. It's no coincidence that I accrued the most debt at my highest weight. So knowing that I committed to losing weight and finally confronted my debt around the same time keeps me from being too hard on myself. I'm the healthiest I've ever been (and happier too, duh), so I know that my financial situation will eventually resolve. I will pay off every last cent on my own, just like I lost every extra pound on my own.
After wiping my tears and slowly backing out of panic mode, I did what really needed to be done and started revising my budget. And hey, guess what? I'll be fine. The downside is even less entertainment and I won't really be able to give gifts during holidays or birthdays. I already reduced those costs last year, but now I just need to cut them out altogether. I'm sure my family will understand; they were already aware of my current situation, so not a big deal. Just makes me feel kinda shitty, from a daughter/sister perspective.
During panic-mode, I immediately started thinking of things I would have to cut, starting with my gym membership. But after the rational budgeting session, canceling doesn't need to be an option. And y'know what? I don't think that will ever be an option, unless I'm on the verge of becoming homeless or something. Fitness keeps me sane. I look forward to it now a hell of a lot more than I used to. Sure, I could just rely on working out at home, but I know for a fact that I would eventually burn out and get bored. I don't go out to a lot of places during the week to begin with, so the gym has become my escape; my retreat. I just love it so damn much. And now that I'm taking group fitness classes and socializing a bit more, I'm even more enamored. Cue Rick Astley 24 Hour Fitness, 'cause I'm never gonna give you up.
So that's the state of things. Getting a second job would be the next best move, in terms of getting my debt paid off faster and building up my savings, but we'll see. It's something that's always been on my mind, but it's also something that would cause me more stress. I'm already disgusted by the fact that I was born in a country where 40 hour work weeks are the norm (where are my extended weekends or European-style afternoon siestas?), so I need to keep my happiness in mind. I like being able to see friends and family, in between work and working out, so I really don't want to decrease that time any more than I have to. But as I discovered today, things do indeed change when you least expect (and not always for the better), so additional employment always needs to be option worth considering.
In the meantime, business as usual. One thing that Doug has told me (many, many times, ha) is not to worry about things I can't control. So damn true. I try to live by it these days because it makes life so much easier and happiness so much more attainable. I've spent most of my life worrying about one thing or another and the majority of those things were not in my control. It takes too much energy to live like that; I need that energy to run.