Just Gravy

Where are you and where are you going?
Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

At First A Very Shocking Sight

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

February savings rate was -15%. It would've been positive (a mighty and enviable +6%), but I gave $1,000 to a friend who needed the money more than I ever will. I also sent my sisters and the same friend gift-box cakes. Had to re-insert the line "Gifts" into my budget spreadsheet, which I had victoriously and euphorically deleted a month ago, in the strange and foolish belief that I would never again buy a gift for another person. I also added a line in my income section for "Realized Gain/Loss," because I'm an absolute idiot and am betting chunks of money I shouldn't be betting on stocks I have no business buying. Realized gain for Feb. was $735; realized gain for Jan. was $4,583.

My financial goal for March is to reallocate the holdings in my brokerage into a more sophisticated (read: not dumb) arrangement. I've been actively investing for over five years and my holdings in my personal account have gone from index/dividend to fuck it/yolo and it's only a matter of a time until I get severely burned. I know how to make a good portfolio (she says defensively).

I filed our tax return today. I usually really enjoy tax time--information gathering, data input, getting money back. This year I didn't enjoy it. The sale of the house, my ex's self-employment income, and inputting all of last year's stock sell-offs mangled the pleasure. I'm also bummed this is the last year I'll get the married filing jointly tax break. Cuz goddamn that's a good tax break.

Divorce: Things are complicated, even somewhat-ugly at times. I started the grieving process well over a year ago, and I think I'm firmly in the acceptance stage, although I do sometimes swing back to bargaining or depression. My ex is squarely in the anger stage and yells at me or berates me quite often. My friend asked me what was the "real reason" I haven't filed the paperwork yet when I gave her the line about him needing to stay on my insurance. 20+ years my senior, she divorced at my age, also with two small children, and it was nice to have a candid conversation with another woman with similar experiences. I started drafting the petition, but I know I won't file it until he has a job. I promised him a year with the kids, on my insurance, all expenses paid. There is nothing I can do about his anger. I do, however, have full control over my responses.

It is strange, divorce. It makes me think of this part from Gulliver's Travels: "I remember when I was at Lilliput, the complexion of those diminutive people appeared to me the fairest in the world; and talking upon this subject with a person of learning there, who was an intimate friend of mine, he said that my face appeared much fairer and smoother when he looked on me from the ground, than it did upon a nearer view when I took him up in my hand and brought him close, which he confessed was at first a very shocking sight. He said he could discover great holes in my skin; that the stumps of my beard were ten times stronger than the bristles of a boar, and my complexion made up of several colours altogether disagreeable..."

A combination of examination and new perspective. It is no longer a very shocking sight. It is reality.

Numbers.
Retirement account: $79,000
Brokerage: $29,000
Kids' Roth IRA: $7,300
Cash: $6,700

Edit. I kill my own bugs now. I told the wonderful man I’m seeing that a valorous bug-slayer makes me weak in the knees, so I guess I think I’m hot stuff now.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: At First A Very Shocking Sight

Post by ertyu »

Biscuits and Gravy wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:38 pm
I know I won't file it until he has a job.
Be careful. I do hope he is a better man than that, but he is not a better man than berating you and being emotionally reactive instead of doing the adult, decent thing and managing his own emotions. Divorce brings ugly stuff out of reactive people. While I hope you don't get there, there exists a scenario where he tries to sabotage you filing and tries to keep you enmeshed, even in negative ways, by not getting a job or otherwise spiralling. Be prepared, when your commitment to him ends, to cut him off regardless of how down on his luck he may appear to be. You care about him as a human being, so you might not want to do it, but you may have to do it. Just like you can't do anything about his anger, you also can't do anything about other immature ways he decides to cope. You're a good person who cares about others and is willing to assist with money when needed, be careful that you don't end up with a tantrumy parasite. Again, I hope that you will not get there and that he is better than that, but he may very well turn out not to be. All I am saying is, be prepared for the eventuality in your mind instead of dismissing it with "oh but he would never do this." He very well might.

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Thanks for your concern, ertyu, I appreciate it and I hear you. I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do to reduce my exposure. I can choose my level of enmeshment to reduce my emotional exposure, but I am still exposed in financial and practical terms. It is worth pointing out that he also feels very exposed, and we have a strange and delicate truce about our arrangement. If he takes advantage of me, then he takes advantage of me. I've survived before and I'll survive this go-round. I am sure of my present actions and have owned my past mistakes. It was an ugly process to get here, so I can readily forgive him his own ugly process to get where he's going, and I hope at the end of it he finds peace and acceptance and happiness.

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Received a $5600 deposit from Uncle Sam/Grandpa Joe what to stimulate the economy. Spent $4,999 of it as follows:

-$4,011 Paid off my ex's car loan. This way, he is completely debt free and only has to budget for housing, food, and half of daycare when he starts his own life. He makes less money than I do and I was worried about him budgeting for a car payment. I know, I know. It's enmeshment. But lemme have this one last hoorah.

-$708 Paid off my credit card. I do this every week or so anyway. I try to put everything on my credit card for the cash back rewards. I've already made $140 cash back this year.

-$165 New hiking boots. My faithful Merrells lasted 11 years, but they finally bit the dust (hur hur) on this last 14-mile hike through muddy swampland. The sole fell off my left boot at mile 4, so I tore out the elastic from my spare bra and wrapped it around my shoe and did just fine for the remaining 10 miles. My new Merrells are tall and waterproof, so hopefully they'll manage better in the mud.

-$75 I needed a massage after that 14-mile hike... Haven't had one in probably two years. Felt great.

-$40 Bought my mother flowers and these fancy olives that she loves.

Still leaves $601 to further stimulate the economy. I'll do my best to carry out my patriotic duty to spend money. For the motherland.

Divorce
I asked my ex to go for a walk with me so we could have an uninterrupted talk. Usually our exchanges are over the bobbing blonde heads of our precious (and noisy) babies, so we're often interrupted and I didn't care for how snippy our exchanges were getting. About five minutes into the walk he said something that filled me with absolute relief and certainty and pride that I had made the decision to leave. It seems he's ready to file the paperwork, too, so we'll be filing the petition shortly. There's a 60-day waiting period in Texas once you file the petition, so we'll likely be divorced mid- or late-June. I'll probably just pay COBRA until he starts his job in August, thus keeping my promise of insuring him while he wasn't working. He's already had two interviews with a place he's excited for and it's a good fit. I'm happy for him. The kinda shitty thing is the place is a 40 minute commute from our current area, so... I dunno. I'm thinking too far in advance, as usual.

At some point, I'm going to have to tell my boss about my divorce. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. I keep my private and work life very separate and I work with very conservative people. I genuinely love and respect my boss and we have a good relationship, but I'm really not sure what his response will be. I don't want him to treat me any differently, but I imagine he will.

Healthy Habits
After a really fun night with my sister-in-law early in the month, I was hurting the next day and decided it's really about time I get my shit together. Here are the changes I've made:

- No more alcohol (11 days sober)
- Drink more water
- No more bread or candy (down to 137 pounds)
- No more phone before bed (instead, I do sudoku puzzles and ponder allllll of the shit I usually ponder at 3 a.m.)
- Get up when I wake up (anywhere between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.)
- More exercise

The biggest improvement in my mood and well-being has definitely come from "get up when I wake up." Previously, I would lie awake in bed, thinking, ruminating, dreading, until my son screamed himself awake at 6 or 6:30, then the marathon began. As soon as I get home from work, my ex leaves and then it's play with kids, bathe kids, read to kids, put kids to sleep, and I usually pass out at 8:30 or 9:00, with most of the chores left undone. Now, when I wake up at 4:30 a.m., I make a pot of coffee and do chores until my son wakes up. I get so much done and it's PEACEFUL and QUIET. I'm a bit of a clean-freak, so having a clean living space really improves my mental well-being. I'm also (except for right now) much more productive at work when I've woken up early, which makes me feel happy and proud, which leads to even more feel-goods (a high-brow technical term).

Anyway. I've felt really, really good since I've made these changes. I don't at all feel like my life is falling to pieces around me or that I've made the "wrong" decisions. I am really very happy with the choices I've made and the direction that my life is headed. I may have a 0% or negative savings rate while the kids are in daycare these next few years, but it's worth it. Undoubtedly worth it.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Just Gravy

Post by ertyu »

I am also into sudoku puzzles. are you on logic masters germany? lots of great stuff there lately

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Had to google it! Looks cool, but this is the only corner of the internet I visit.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7076
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Just Gravy

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I used to get up at least an hour or two before my kids for the same reason. I also had strict policy that they had to be in their own bedrooms by 8 pm with reading books their only allowed activity. Saved my sanity to the extent that my adult kids now remember me as being a fun mom :lol:

mooretrees
Posts: 457
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by mooretrees »

Ha, I was just thinking of doing that same thing-get up early and have some time to myself. I can get some time in the evening, but I'm so brain dead its not really the same. I'm a morning person for sure.

Sounds like really good progress on ending the relationship and protecting your kids from the fall out. I hope the conversation with the boss goes well. Seems so strange that your boss might care about your relationship ending, but suppose that's my generational bias showing up?

Keep up the good work woman!

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

@7w5 Ooh, only reading allowed, good idea. I bet you were (and still are) an awesome mom!

@mooretrees Oh man, I highly recommend getting up before everyone else. I’ve bathed, done my hair, cleaned, gone through the mail, and now I’m sitting here with my coffee, lurking on ere. It’s the best. ;)

Re boss. Maybe he won’t care? Who knows! He’s older and we’re “friends” (his words), so I think I’m mostly anxious he’ll maybe be upset I didn’t talk to him a long time ago about my marital problems. Even my friends are used to me being extremely quiet and private, though, and I’ve dropped a lot of hints to him recently that things aren’t going well, so maybe he won’t be surprised. ....lots of maybes in that paragraph. I should prolly just bite the bullet and tell him.

You keep up the good work, too! [interwebs high fives]

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Hristo Botev »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Mar 18, 2021 2:59 pm
I used to get up at least an hour or two before my kids for the same reason. I also had strict policy that they had to be in their own bedrooms by 8 pm with reading books their only allowed activity. Saved my sanity to the extent that my adult kids now remember me as being a fun mom :lol:
Yes and yes. I wake the kids up at about 6:45, but DW and I are up at 5:15--DW so that she can get in to work by 6 to get her 8 hours in and be home when the kids get out of school, and me so that I can have an hour and a half to walk the dog, exercise, get dressed, and read. (DW exercises in the afternoon, when she's waiting on the kids to walk home.) We also remain militant about the 8pm rule; that's not to say the kids aren't often still awake by the time we go to bed around 9:30 or so, but they are in their room reading by 8--it's about the only time DW and I get for just the 2 of us.

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

March proved to be a difficult month. Total income was $12,052.60, and I still only managed a savings rate of 12%. But it's positive, so I'll take it. Minus the $4,011.90 I blew on paying off my ex's car, savings rate was 45%.

Divorce
Petition has been filed. My boss drove me home one night so I took that opportunity to tell him (difficult conversations are much easier when you're facing away from each other) and he was very supportive and understanding. Now comes ironing out the details about custody and then eventually transitioning everyone to the new schedule. We're going to have to figure out a new way to pay for the kids' colleges, since the Roth IRA approach won't be a good fit. Everything in the Roth IRA was my money anyway, so I'll keep it in the divorce as my own personal retirement account and we'll figure out some other way to lighten the financial burden of higher education for the kids.

Healthy Habits
I only got drunk four times in March: once for fun with my sister-in-law, once out of boredom, and twice out of, oh, let's call it sheer despair. I think, going forward, the easier and more reasonable limit I should put on myself is just not to drink when I have the kids. Easy enough. I love spending time with them and like to be fully present when I have them.

I hit my goal weight of 135. I look and feel great, so not much to say there. I keep biking to work, get the occasional run or hike in, and sometimes get to go lift weights in the apartment's gym. I still haven't tried the YouTube workouts people mentioned above; I'm too wiped at the end of the day after the full time job, kids, then chores.

I'm still getting up when I wake up, so anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. This is working out really well for me.

Kids
My precious little baby boy broke his arm in a really unlucky fall. After 10 hours in the pediatric ER, they reset his arm, and we got home around 5 a.m., only to discover less than 24 hours later that he had contracted a vicious stomach bug at the ER. He spent the next five days vomiting and having nonstop diarrhea. It is really the sickest I have ever seen either of my kids. I don't think I slept that whole week and I spent much of it covered in vomit, but that's part of the whole mom gig. No light without darkness. He's fully recovered now, although he'll be in a cast for the next five weeks. Poor little man. My daughter took full advantage of our exhaustion and watched TV quite a bit for that week.

Family
My mother suggested that we move in together after the divorce. I could write pages on this, but it is something I am considering. I have her and my ex's large family in the same city, and having such an extensive and willing support structure has been an enormous help with the burden of child-rearing. It really does "take a village" to raise kids, and I have no idea how people do it alone or away from family. Moving in with my mom would also be beneficial to her--lower costs, I can do things around the house for her, companionship, etc. The idea does, however, bring to mind that Chinese saying about the burden of middle-age: 上有老,下有小. A middle-aged person carries the burden of caring for the old (their parents) and the young (their children).

Numbers
Retirement account: $83,300
Brokerage: $31,500
Roth IRA: $7,300
Cash: $6,700
Weight: 135 lbs.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Just Gravy

Post by ertyu »

上有老,下有小: above have old, below have young?

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Yeah, a middle-aged person is sandwiched between 老 (old) and 小 (young). 上 is “on top”, 下 is “below.” So, old on top, young below; crushed between the two are foolish, incredibly lucky people like myself. :)

It sounds catchier in Chinese. Shang you lao, xia you xiao. It rhymes.

mooretrees
Posts: 457
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by mooretrees »

Holy cow! Poor little man. Poor you! I'm glad he's recovered, sounds so awful to see your little one so sick. I feel that if you think moving in with your mom is worth it, then it's worth the stress of living with her. One of my sisters lived with our parents for years. It was really beneficial for her son and I think my sister and parents mostly enjoyed it too.

Congrats on looking and feeling great!

Do you speak Chinese to your kids?

Biscuits and Gravy
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:38 pm

Re: Just Gravy

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

God, I know! My tiny man! :cry: He mostly just cuddled me night and day. They were vomity cuddles, but cuddles nonetheless.

Re Maybe Mom Move-In. I am more than considering this... we drove around and looked at houses in an area that would work for us and would be close to my ex's new job (assuming he receives an offer, which we'll find out tomorrow).

Positives
- My mom gets off work at 2:30 and is willing to pick up the kids from school and watch them. This, in and of itself, is a HUGE positive. Schools get out around 3, so I'd either have to take off work early every single day on my "on" weeks or pay for aftercare, which I think runs approximately $150/kid per month.
- We can split rent and save money. She pays $1300/month on her mortgage, and I pay $1600 for my rent. We can afford a lot of house together, plus split utilities, food, and even vehicle costs. I know "a lot of house" isn't very ERE (and more importantly doesn't resonate with me), but my mother is not ERE. Renting a nicer, bigger place than I otherwise would have is a concession I am very willing to make.
- I would be a better mother to my own children around my mother. I readily admit this.
- My kids would get to spend loads of time with their grandmother, from whom they can learn things they otherwise wouldn't learn from me. For instance, she is excellent at home maintenance, interior design, and looking "put together." There are some behaviors she models that I want my children exposed to: healthy eating, vegetarianism, active lifestyle, proper manners (I suck at proper manners), how to attractively arrange cheese on a cheese board...
- I can run out to get a gallon of milk and not have to take the kids with me. No really, this is a positive.
- Potentially develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with my mother.
- She has a cat. I like cats.
- Safer to live with a roomie, for her and me.
- We prefer basically the same diet (mostly veggies and fruit).
- My ex can take most of my furniture and kitchen stuff. He's kind of starting from scratch and I feel bad about that.

Negatives
- My mom does a lot of negative self-talk and is hyper-focused on appearance. I had a lot of body image issues growing up because of this. Like, I was 115 lbs. and thought I was fat and developed an eating disorder. Not putting that all on her, but she certainly didn't (and still doesn't) model healthy behavior in this area.
- Moving in with my mother feels a bit like conceding that I can't do this on my own. I'd have to work through some feelings of "failure." My sisters and I were all pushed to leave home as soon as possible (we all left at 18), and even leaving at 17 years and 11 months my dad was like, "what are you still doing here?" He, after all, left home at 13 to go work on a farm, because his parents couldn't afford to feed him and he had been kicked out of middle school for stabbing a kid. (No joke). That's my shit to work through, though.
- Would my boyfriend like my mom? Would he even want to stay over in the same house as my mom? Weird. Certainly can't have sex (especially loud, wild sex) under the same roof as my mom. Fucking weird. This negative is easily remedied, however: just spend more time at my boyfriend's or take trips away.
- Potentially less time alone. I'm an introvert and need lots of alone time to recharge. Also easily remedied: just go for a long hike.
- She's more of a clean freak than I am and she can always find something to do around the house. There would be no rest from chores.
- The area we're looking at is at least a 30 minute commute by car (shudder) to my work. This would be a huge lifestyle change for me, and would be my life for the foreseeable future (I don't want to move the kids once they're in school and I love my job and fully expect to stay here).

I dunno. From the negatives I see a lot of potential growth for me: learning to establish and maintain boundaries with my mother would be a good thing for me, as would working through feelings of "failure." The biggest negative by far is the commute, but it'd be necessary. I want to live near the kids' dad so they can see each other as often as they like, the area we're looking at has "great schools" (puke), affordable and enormous houses, and really fantastic green spaces (this is an absolute must for me). It is, however, a goddamn suburb, complete with cul-de-sacs (dry heave), SUVs (puke), and water parks (uncontrolled vomiting). So, you know, Gravy is officially considering selling her soul.

Oh and re Chinese. I don't speak Chinese to the kids on a regular basis. Sometimes I read Chinese kid books to DD for shits and giggles, but Spanish is much more useful in these parts so if I do speak another language to them, I speak Spanish. I sang them a lot of Japanese songs when they were infants, though, because I find Japanese to be really soothing.

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