Great Friday Night
After a difficult and stressful week that had me on the brink of madness, I finally made it through last Friday. It was also payday, so $3,300 was added to our checking account, 3 K from me and an additional $300 from my wife’s part-time gig. I know, she is not necessarily Ms. Money Bags, but every little bit helps. For over ten years, her income was a big fat zero, so compared to that, she is raking it in now.
Last week, I worked on some blog posts, I attended many meetings including with a potential popcorn and candy shop, a potential brew pub, a pet store supply company, a semi-truck dealer and a would-be hookah lounge. I cannot say that my bosses or I would appreciate a hookah lounge coming to town, but to each his own. Maybe you, yourself, enjoy sucking on a hookah.
Also throughout the week, I fretted over my wife’s huge $3,050 bill from her Visa which showed up this week. Last month, our long-time central air unit finally gave out and we had to replace it, so we did. The entire $2,450 charge went on her credit card. We also got her Kohl’s bill, but at about $300, that is peanuts in comparison. I paid insurance on one of our cars, I paid our electric bill and lots of other stuff that, together, will make it look like we spent a lot this month.
I also paid myself $400 on payday due to making some extra money from eBook sales, although there is really no such thing as “extra” money. Let’s just say that I made more money than usual in October.
It’s just that after posting how much went out last quarter as opposed to how much came in, I cannot help but wonder how we are going to keep spending and investing more than what comes in on a consistent basis. Even though we do, somehow we get by. Oh, and by the way, I am paying for three Disney World trips next month in December and another one in February.
As my father often said, “There’s always room for more at the poor house.”
So this past Friday night, when my wife informed me that our son was spending the night at his college due to having an orchestra pit rehearsal on Saturday night and that she and our daughter were going to attend a musical performance that she assumed I did not want to attend (she was right), I made four stops on the way home to lift my evening.
First, I stopped at Dollar Tree, where, among other things, I purchased bubble bath and Epsom salt. Yes, it’s true. Although I am a very manly man, a Man’s Man if you will, I love to soak in a bubble bath. Because my bad ankle always hurts, especially at the end of the day, I figured that I would splurge and spend the extra buck on the Epsom salt.
My second stop was at a local liquor store. I am friends with the owner, not because I drink so much alcohol because I do not. It is because I brought him to our town many years ago, encouraging him to open up in our downtown area and helping him apply for and obtain his liquor license and sign permit. I send customers there occasionally and I am occasionally a customer, myself. I do not often want to be seen walking out of a liquor store in a town where I am well known, but on a Friday after a long work week, I do not think that anybody would disparage me for purchasing a six pack. He went into the back and got me a six pack of Shock Top, although they are cans and I thought that he was getting me bottles. No worries, it still tastes great.
My third stop was at a new sandwich shop, Which Wich, which I will not go to great lengths to describe. The cool thing about it is that you select what type of sandwich you want by selecting a bag under the menu board and then you check off what toppings you want on it, and then they make it.
I wanted to get a guacamole sandwich because, like many young people, our daughter is heavily into the avocado craze. Since my wife made chili for dinner, I did not want to overdo it with the sandwiches, so we split one large between the three of us in addition to the chili.
My fourth stop was to our local library, where I had John Grisham’s book on reserve. Throughout October, I had taken a few steps backward. I purchased several books, losing count because it is setting me back from accomplishing my goal and resolution of net minus fifty books this year. I had surpassed that number as of July first, but have purchased more books than I have moved along since that time. In October, I probably purchased ten new books but, to be perfectly candid, I have not really counted. I have resumed reading fiction, which is enjoyable, but does not improve one’s lot in life.
With my son at college and my wife and daughter attending a musical, I laid in a bubble bath filled with Epsom salt sipping on a Shock Top while reading Camino Island.
A little slice of heaven for me. Consider it a few hours of vacation.
I had previously written about how I reached the amount of $4,250 in cash saved as of two months ago. I had started with the intention of saving up ten grand in cash and then stashing it away in a safe deposit box for use on the eventual rainy days that always arrive.
I had been in the habit of paying $500 per child automatically on the first of every month for four or more years, and then reduced it to $400 per month when our son needed braces, and then our daughter needed braces too. It became hard to keep automatically deducting $800 on the first of every month in addition to our many other expenses, but I did it anyway.
When our son enrolled in college in August 2016, it felt weird to me to stop investing in his college funds after having done so for the past fifteen or so years. So what I did was withdraw an extra $400 in cash from the bank for about seven or eight months in a row after that, sticking it into an envelope under my underwear in my bottom drawer, one of the first places that a thief would look.
I changed the amount withdrawn from time to time, eventually amassing $4,250 and then stopped doing the withdrawals this past summer. Because I did it in a continuation of investing on my son’s behalf, I felt that the money was his. Because of this, I decided to re-deposit one thousand dollars per month for four consecutive months beginning in September so that I could transfer less than two thousand per month from his College 2018 fund for those same four months.
When I deposited twenty fifty-dollar bills in September, the young, flirty teller at one of the U.S. bank branches that I use casually asked, “So what do you do?”
Nothing against flirty young female bank tellers, but what I wanted to reply would be very rude, along the lines of “None of your fucking business.” Even though I have been a law-abiding taxpayer for my entire life including eight tough years as a probation officer right out of college. I was already a hard-core big-city P.O. when this girl was in kindergarten and have since toiled for seventeen years as an economic development official, but did not feel compelled to share that with her.
“I’d rather not discuss that,” was my reply. In her mind, perhaps I just made a cool grand selling drugs or a weapon or doing God-knows what. Something less savory than telling her that it represents two and a half months worth of cash withdraws after I stopped contributing to my son’s 529 account.
So in September I transferred $1,100 from my son’s 529 account, deposited another thousand in cash, and the remaining $400 for his monthly college payment came right out of our checking account. I paid the $2,500 monthly bill like I always do.
In early October, I repeated the same thing, stopping at another branch with another twenty fifty-dollar bills to deposit before I transferred another $1,100 from his 529 account to pay another $2,500 to his college.
This time, when I demurred on telling the male teller a few years younger than myself what it is that I do, he explained that federal law now mandates that he do so for cash transactions of one thousand dollars or more. He explained that my bank, U.S. Bank, has a policy lowering that amount to five hundred measly dollars and handed me a form explaining as much. Can you imagine? Many of my friends and colleagues carry that amount or more with them at all times.
Anyway, I admitted to being an economic developer, which seemingly impressed him and the other teller. Being that they are both of Indian descent, I think that their culture holds government economic development officials in greater esteem, since they wield far greater power in their native country than we do here. Although I serve as the gatekeeper for businesses in my community and am typically the first person whom they encounter when inquiring about doing business in our community, I have little to no say as to what can or cannot go where. That is for the “Powers That Be” to decide, and they often go against my advice because, after all, what do I know? They received a few votes, so they know best. I have only done this for seventeen years and am one of about forty certified economic developers in the state.
The teller typed “economic developer” into his computer, which any government records or Google search of my name would divulge, anyway. But I am not very happy about U.S. Bank entering that information into their archives for some future asshole to wonder why I deposited one thousand in cash two months in a row.
I won’t be doing that again!
As I confessed in a recent post, I am using National Novel Writing Month to spur me to complete a book of 50,000 words or more, but it will not be my Pretty Good American Novel. Depending on the book, that amount of words translates to a book of about 150 to 200 pages.
I came up with the book title today, and it is pretty good. I’ll share it here, hoping that one of my few loyal readers does not decide to crank out a quick book with the same name.
As a true believer of new starts in new years, and an avid maker of resolutions and setter of goals, the book will have a title reflecting the new year, and I have a nom de plume picked out that I spent several days anguishing over. Much of it will be a compilation of my New Year-oriented posts, but with less of a stress on being such a Middle Class Guy (even though I am) because I want women to purchase it, too. I am changing some of the resolutions that I made late last December to updated versions for 2018 and beyond.
You do not have to buy it, of course, but I would appreciate it if you would. The minimum price to collect a seventy percent royalty is $2.99 on Amazon, so that will be the price. I will collect about two bucks a pop per purchase. I do not know if you knew that.
So while I will not technically be cranking out my much thought about novel idea this month, I will be working diligently on creating an original work that will enter the eBookosphere next month in mid-December, when those of us who think about improving ourselves in the New Year may be looking for such a book to read over the holidays. Especially if they are staying with people that they would rather not be with.
Besides the few bucks that I will undoubtedly make by self-publishing this book, I sincerely hope that it helps readers improve their lives in 2018 and beyond, just like I will be striving to do. I am not writing it from a lofty height of multi-million dollar success like Tony Robbins or Suze Orman. I am writing it from the trenches of being a middle aged workaholic Middle Class Guy trying to make it in this world.
When NaNoWriMo ends in thirty days, I will be glad to post the final tally of words in it right here. More important than the sheer number of total words written, I want the words to be meaningful and have some power. No New Agey bullshit, just thoughtful insights about how to achieve more and become better versions of ourselves next year and beyond. I always add “and beyond” because it would be no good for any of us to make great strides in 2018, only to fall back into our old habits or revert to bad ways or lose our way in 2019.
I want my own self-improvement to be continual from New Year 2018 and beyond, and NaNoWriMo will help me achieve three of my resolutions right off the bat, which are to create more and consume less, to earn more income in 2018 than in 2017, and to self-publish three quality eBooks. Even though I will hit the “publish” button on my Amazon account in mid-December, I will count it as a 2018 goal and resolution. Cheating? Hell no, I call it getting a little bit ahead of things. If I wait until January first to hit the “publish” button, I would be missing out on those buyers thinking about improving themselves during those cold mid-December nights. Perhaps you are one of those people. I know that I am.
Eighteen years ago, everybody was worrying about Y2K. Would all the computers crash? Would airplanes fall from the sky? Would all of our online investments disappear, with the servers thinking that it was going back to the year 1900 again?
I cannot recall all of the worries about Y2K, but there were plenty of them.
I was still a P.O. at the time and living in the City, taking the el to and from work and with my young wife and baby boy at home. We lived in mouse-infested condo at the time.
But I am not talking about Y2K.
I am talking about the two thousand in cash that remains in my possession, but have just decided to spend down. Not by depositing it twice in thousand dollar increments so that I must disclose my profession to nosy bank tellers. Spend it down in the sense of giving my wife five hundred of pocket money for her Disney trip next month and laying another two hundred or so on my daughter, who will be traveling with the marching band. My son is nineteen and can withdraw some of his own money if need be.
Maybe I’ll just give him a hundred or two hundred this coming weekend, so he has some pocket money for the next few weeks. My own father used to give me that much back in the late eighties and early nineties when I was a college student.
Maybe I’ll go out to lunch five days in a row some week and pay cash. Perhaps I’ll splurge on Starbucks a few times. Maybe I’ll go out with my long-time best buddy soon and casually plop a fifty or hundred down when we’re splitting the bill, like he does.
I am not sure exactly what will happen with every one of the two thousand dollars, but I do know that none of it will be left by the end of this year, and I will no longer have to worry about someone stealing cash from my underwear drawer when we’re gone for the day.
If you knew me personally, you might think that I need my head checked. I am a diligent worker and saver and have been for many years. Taking my wife out for a night on the town and spending at fancy restaurants is very unlike me. As a matter of fact, there is a fancy restaurant near us that she has wanted to go to for years. Why not take the wife and kids there for a holiday dinner? It is certainly not as responsible as utilizing the cash as part of this month’s payment to our son’s college but, heck, I have squirreled away so many nuts for that for so long, my new mindset that there is more abundance in the world and ways to make money, like my eBooks, that I do not want to always just be saving, saving and saving some more at the expense of enjoying life more than I do.
Knowing me, I’ll probably regret not just telling a bank teller that I am an economic developer again and contributing the cash to next month’s college installment payment. Maybe I’ll just deposit four hundred twice and spend the remaining $1,200.
Old habits are hard to break.
By the way, happy November first!