Ergonomics: My new laptop stand raises up my screen so that I don’t have to bend my head and strain my neck.
DH = Dear Husband
Muscle spasm in my neck . . . and a wake-up call
Saturday January 23, I woke up with a bad head-ache, and it didn’t go away with Tylenol or Advil. I tried to go to work on Monday the 25th, but I had to leave in the early afternoon because the head-ache just took over. It was worrisome when we didn’t know what was causing it – since I don’t have a history of prolonged head-aches – to the extent that on day 6, I followed my doctor’s orders and went in for an emergency CT scan. When the results of that test came back negative, further check-ups resulted in the discovery of a muscle spasm in my neck.
I ended up missing almost two weeks of work, and besides taking prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, I got help from a physiotherapist as well as an occupational therapist. Good posture has always been a struggle for me (the fate of many tall girls of my generation who slouched to be shorter), and in default mode, my neck and head strain forward. I have to work at keeping my shoulders back and my chin tucked in. Through my consultation with the occupational therapist, I realized that both at home and at work, I wasn’t well set up ergonomically. My computer screens in both settings were too low, requiring my head to bend down, putting a strain on my neck.
I bought a laptop stand for home, and my place of work provides ergonomic assessments and solutions, so all is on track for a healthy outcome. The thing is, my neck spasm episode made me realize that I spend too much time on computers. At work, in a high school library, about 50% of my day is spent looking at a monitor. And at home, I blog. There isn’t much I can do about computer time at work, so the modification has to come from my time at home. From blogging.
How to reduce computer time?
If you’ve been following our journey out of debt for any amount of time, you no doubt know that I write a weekly post here at Prudence Debtfree, and a weekly post at Fruclassity, a site that I run along with fellow debt-blogger Laurie, from The Frugal Farmer. I see the two blogs are serving different purposes. Prudence Debtfree tells our story – DH’s and mine – as we make our way to debt-freedom. Fruclassity is a meeting place for people who are on the road to debt-freedom and financial freedom, providing a forum to explore different strategies and points of view when it comes to all things personal finance.
I started writing as Prudence Debtfree in May of 2012 when DH and I were getting set to start our journey out of debt. We took our first steps in June of 2012 with a total debt – consumer debt, business debt, mortgage debt – of $257,000, and a debt-to-income ratio that was way above the national average, not to mention way too high for people our age. Since that time, we have paid off all consumer debt and all business debt, besides making our regular mortgage payments, and we’re now down to a total debt of $114,000 – mortgage only. Our debt-to-income ratio is now way below average. It’s strange to say it, but relatively speaking, our personal finances are in good shape.
Laurie and I started Fruclassity less than a year ago, with a mission to provide a welcoming, open place for people trying to get to a state of better financial health. Laurie and I had a lot in common:
- a history of flawed money management
- a wake-up call in the form of job loss (our husbands’)
- a determination to pay off debt
- the experience of both encouragement and obstacles on the way to debt-freedom
We also each knew that while we admired the “badasses” of frugality – like Mr. Money Mustache – we weren’t total subscribers to that extreme. And so Fruclassity was born. A combination of “frugality” and “class”. For the not-so-badass.
A choice to make
In knowing I had to cut back, I had to decide where: Prudence Debtfree? or Fruclassity? A tough choice! I love both of them. But here is where I am in my thinking:
DH and I are now on the last long stretch of our journey to debt-freedom. We’ve got a plan in place for steady savings as well as debt repayments, and we plan to execute it until our mortgage is $0. In all likelihood, that will take another three and a half years. I think that personal stories of debt-reduction are very important in an era when levels of personal debt are at record breaking highs and compromising so many lives. So I don’t want to stop telling ours.
Much as my personal vision for debt-freedom inspires me, the vision behind Fruclassity inspires me more. I believe that Western society as a whole is ready for a tipping point – away from debt, excess, waste – and that our individual stories will more quickly and constructively usher in that tipping point if they work together. Fruclassity‘s mandate aligns so well with that belief. And so I’m choosing to give it the priority.
I’ll continue to give updates on our personal journey to debt-freedom here at Prudence Debtfree – once per month. You’ll see our first monthly update starting next Saturday. On a weekly basis, I’ll link to whatever it is I’ve written for Fruclassity. Nothing is set in stone, and I can always shift again some time down the road, but for now, that’s my blogging plan.
Let me just say how much I appreciate you for reading our story. I am so grateful for people who comment regularly, and for people who make the point of letting me know – in person, by e-mail, or maybe even a single comment – that they’ve found something at Prudence Debtfree to help them along in their own situation. My stats suggest there are many more readers I don’t hear from, and I thank you too. I hope you’ll all keep coming by, whether to check on our latest monthly update or to be linked to Fruclassity – where I know you will continue to find allies as you harness your efforts and move against the grain towards financial health, confidence, and freedom.
Have you ever experienced a computer-related physical strain? Have you ever had to make the choice to cut back on something you love? Your comments are welcome.