DH = Dear Husband
Steady debt-reduction & savings
Yesterday, I had trouble starting our 18-year-old van. It took me 4 tries, and while there was some “Oh no!” stress, it was tempered by a confidence that is new to me: “If it dies today, we’ve got more than enough on stand-by for a good used vehicle.” A life-time first.
Our ’99 Dodge Caravan lived to see another day as it turned out, but how great not to be overwhelmed by dread or panic at the thought of it biting the dust! In our poor money management days, DH and I experienced that soul-sucking stress on a regular basis – every time an unexpected expense came up. My hope is that our faithful old van will serve us at least until its 20th birthday in February 2019 – which might just be our first month of complete debt freedom.
February 2017 was the 57th month of our total money makeover. Since June of 2012, we have:
- paid off all of our consumer debt ($21,000)
- paid off all of our business debt ($81,000)
- saved up an emergency fund (to see us through 3-6 months in case of income loss)
- made more and more aggressive payments against our mortgage ($71,000 and counting)
- ramped up our long-term savings and investments
From our original total combined debt of $257,000, we are now left with a mortgage of $84,000.
In October of 2015, I wrote a post about frugality misapplied. Two years earlier, I’d been having trouble with my vision, and I’d gone to my eye doctor. Sure enough, he’d had to update my prescription. But when it came time to decide upon the purchase, “I managed to work my decision-making faculties into a state of paralysis, and [I stuck with my old glasses.] I left the optometrists with a new prescription, but the same old frames and lenses, feeling an uncertain sense of victory for my frugal move.”
Just before writing that post in 2015, I finally did buy new glasses – but not before my compromised vision had contributed my nearly hitting a pedestrian while I was driving to work. “I told the first two colleagues I saw about my near miss. ‘I just did not see him,’ I explained, still absorbing the horror of what could have been. And what was their response? One of them asked, ‘Is the prescription for your glasses outdated?’ ‘Yes!’ I answered – horrified again – at how obvious a mistake I had been making. I just didn’t tell him how outdated. ‘In fact, I’m getting new glasses this week.'”
Frugality misapplied again
Every year since I started blogging, I’ve had something to say about my “winter blues”. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing that can be effectively addressed, but my default was to just get through the blahs of late winter and hold out for spring. One winter a couple of years ago, I went to see my doctor about it. Besides giving me a list of vitamins and supplements to purchase, she recommended light therapy and told me where I could buy a SAD lamp.
Can you guess what I did with that information? That’s right. Decision-making paralysis again. I bought some vitamin D, but that was it – and it wasn’t enough.
Do you ever find yourself thinking, when embarrassing videos of the rich-and-famous go viral, “I’m sure glad that nobody recorded me when I . . .” whatever mortifying moment happened in your life? I had a moment like that last weekend. I had a melt-down – in a way that was completely out of proportion with what triggered it. And I’m glad nobody recorded it.
SAD lamp and supplements
I said my apologies, asked for and received forgiveness, and I took ownership of it. This past week, two years after it was given (I’ve clearly got a pattern of 2-year delay), I followed my doctor’s advice. I bought the SAD lamp, and I’ve been using it at least 15 minutes each day. I bought a higher-dose vitamin D (10 times higher) as well as St. John’s Wort. It’s too early to say if it’s making a difference, but it feels right to be taking these steps, and to be setting myself up to be proactive from the get-go next winter.
I went to see my doctor again, and just like our visit of two winters ago, she half-jokingly, half-seriously added this recommendation: “I’ll prescribe a trip to Hawaii for you every winter.” A yearly trip south will definitely be a part of our financial freedom plan! Until then, the SAD lamp will be my Hawaii.
Brighter days to come
Brighter days really are coming. Despite the unseasonably cold temperature of this particular time and place (-19C /-2F), the days are getting longer. Furthermore, the calendar doesn’t lie: spring will be here soon.
And an exciting development happened with the children’s book I’m self-publishing: The illustrator, a former student, has completed her work, and the illustrations are on their way to the publisher. I was so thrilled to go over them with her Thursday evening that I missed a little correction that needs to be made on three of them. Can you see what it is? (The publishers say they can fix it.) In this illustration, Sensei Jordan is giving Ella a high-five just before her karate class.
I’m hoping this is the last mental health post I’ll be writing for some time to come, but I can only promise to tell it like it is : )
Have you ever used a SAD lamp? Have you ever neglected your own self-care? Are you looking forward to spring? Your comments are welcome.