Part of me wonders if I should. I mean, I have made it this far, and I doubt my worrying has brought me any more success than not worrying has. The problem is I have this self congratulating worry complex. I mean, I worry something terrible is going to happen, and then when it doesn't, some deep part of me thinks, "See, worrying made things better!" It all goes back to that control issue where I don't like surprises. It's what made me such a gothy pessimist as a teen. I even thought this was a clever idea back then, "If I assume the worst, then if the worst comes, I am prepared for it. If not, I will be happy the worst did not come. Ha ha, I am so damn clever." No. No, I wasn't. See, what happened was that I ended up fretting over everything, and then when I didn't predict the worst, and something even worse than I imagined happened instead, it set the bar of worry even higher. So, over time, I worry constantly and needlessly, and the limit of my worrying creeps slowly towards total panicked immobility. This might have been okay up to the age of 18, because, frankly, I was living in a surreal hell up until then. But since I left home, this has not been the case by a long shot. Yes, I have had moments of hell here and there, like everyone else, but for the most part, my life is pretty good. I feel like an ingrate for not fully taking advantage of this.
But our money situation is never where I'd like it. We're not saving money outside of our 401k plans (and some languishing stock), and while the cost of living gets higher, our pay rate is not climbing with it. Gas has gone up, as an example. So has the cost of power, water, cable, and other utilities, but natural gas and gasoline has more than doubled in cost in the last two years. ATM fees have gotten ridiculous. Now I usually pay $3.50 for a transaction. That's like $58/month on average. I hate banks, and how they slobber money as they shovel globs of their customer's cash like pigs in a trough, and they cry because they are so hungry. Our bank just got bought out, after holding out for nearly 12 years, to HugeMegaCorp Bank. I suspect we'll be charged "convenience fees" soon for the privilege of having a checking account (unless our balance is $5000 or more, which I have always said, "If I had $5000 to keep in the bank, I wouldn't care about an $8/mo fee so much!"). Interest rates? Great for loans, terrible for investing. But I have already rated about that. Car insurance has also gone up, even thought the values of our cars have gone down. So I am seeing an increasing loss almost monthly. If our family was a company, we'd be in trouble with the shareholders.
About two years ago, I decided to educate myself on how money really works. I have slacked off on that this year, but last year I did learn quite a bit. Not enough to give anyone useful advice, but enough to make me go, "Wow ... that's messed up!" Okay, maybe not. I can't be a hypocrite: if I was a rich person, I'd want to keep my money, too. But it amazes me how much I didn't know, and how much I have yet to learn.
Of course, as I recently worried about, I felt that if I lost my job, we'd be toast, financially. Two months, and we'd have no money to pay for the mortgage or anything else. But we formed a backup plan for that, so at least I worried for SOMETHING. I don't want to live in Cumberland, that's all.
So... if I seem cheap in the next few months, at least you'll know why.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000212.html