Re-beginning.

I’m not naturally a writer. To come back to this blog after 9 months of dormancy, feels hard. It’s like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in 5 years – honestly, where to even begin?

The past 9 months have felt consuming to me, in a way I didn’t anticipate. I would say overall, my life is in order. My finances are in order. We are progressing against our big goal of paying off a ton of student loan debt. We have greatly lowered our housing expenses. I’m doing well at work. My daughter is transitioning well to a new home and school and I still like my husband.

But I don’t feel the joy of momentum. I just feel really worn down.

My mind is a jumble of logistics and tasks and caring for others’ emotions running through my brain non-stop “Ok, husband is out of town, how am I juggling school drop offs this week? Did I get groceries? Dammit, that has nuts in it, no nuts at school. Don’t forget brother’s birthday. Did I call friend to talk about that hard thing that happened last week? I should text so and so make sure she’s ok. We need blinds for the windows, everyone can see us. Need to book flights back home. Hmm, daughter’s shoes are too small, need to put in small clothes storage. Do we have any groceries? I should tell colleague I can cover that work assignment. Huh, no laundry again? Am I the only one who does laundry? Ugh, so and so at work is such a nightmare. Does husband know friend is staying with us next weekend? I feel like that conversation with family member didn’t go well…I should re-visit. Oh it’s end of month, bills are due. Gah, we still need blinds.”

I know this is not unique to me. I know this is the universal experience of overworked women and mothers all over. But I do think different personality types react differently. Some people can ruthlessly cut out the non-essential. Others avoid it all. And I am most definitely the type that will find and make the time to address everything at the sacrifice of my own well-being and even it isn’t truly that important. I don’t feel compelled to be a martyr. I don’t get some sort of twisted pleasure at telling people “oh I’m sooooo busy.” I just feel painfully obligated to do, do, do.

And even as I write this, I feel guilty that I’m portraying saying yes as anything but a pleasure, because I do genuinely want to be there for my family, friends, colleagues and community. But I’m completely wearing myself out. My emotions feel thin. Inefficiency in others irritates me disproportionately. “Self-care” feels like an indulgence in myself that I’d rather not sacrifice the time if I could use it to spend quality time with my spouse or daughter.

So what does that have to do with money? Nothing? Maybe everything? For me, it feels like I am so caught up in the doing and the getting things done that I haven’t had time to reflect on my financial goals which I felt so in sync with a year ago. I don’t feel like I’m spending mindfully. My glorious YNAB budget is giving me less of a thrill. Yet, there have been some wins:

  • Last August our loan balance was at $165K and today it stands at $123K
  • We moved to my father-in-law’s house and lowered our monthly housing costs by 50%
  • We moved closer to family which means we are driving a whole lot less and our commute to work got cheaper
  • My husband and I have both increased our income in the past 6 months through raises and/or more commission

There have also been some setbacks:

  • Moving to a new home has been riddled with expenses. There was, of course, packing materials and movers, but there have also been a series of bigger and smaller improvements (shelving, toddler-proofing, lighting) and unexpected costs (broken oven, BED BUGS – BLECH, rug cleaning, painting)
  • Our childcare is more expensive
  • We haven’t been able to make a lot of extra loan payments the past several months given all the home expenses

So as I (we) look to re-commit to writing and look to re-commit to focusing on financial goals, I’m hoping I can find a way to re-commit to myself in even the smallest of ways to clear out some of the mental clutter. It feels SO cluttered. A few goals to hold myself accountable:

  • Every month put extra on student loan
  • Fully budget for Christmas gifts ahead of time
  • Use commuting time as “me time” to read or reflect – no working or tasking in service of someone else! – so that I can re-connect to the goals I felt so in sync with just 12 months ago.

And that’s it. Start small, one day at a time, it’s a journey, etc. – insert the maxim of choice. I’m ready to re-begin.

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