Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:54 am

I recall being a teenager and watching the Talking Heads video "Once In A Lifetime" and having a vague notion about what David Byrne was singing about. Thanks to Suo, I now possess a very deep understanding.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:35 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:24 am
In order to experience appreciation for the sameness of everyday life, it may be necessary to experience some lower lows to balance your higher highs. But, how can you functionally (or non-dysfunctionally) choose to do this as an affluent member of an affluent society?
Well, this is just it, right? Over the last couple of years as I've focused on this, it was my therapist who first pointed out to the blind me that "you talk like you're a victim of your life, like you didn't create it, like someone else did, but this life that YOU created is pretty damn good." I kept thinking that life could be so much better...but I just didn't have that perspective that it could be so much worse. First world problems. I mean, we've had some rough goes of it (4 month premature baby is not fun), but all in all, by almost any measure, I am living a charmed life. I have no desire to blow up this life or escape from it, fantasies notwithstanding. I'm just trying to figure out how to enjoy it for what it is here and now.

@jacob That's a nice distinguishing list. I am definitely "stuck" in job mode and I don't know how I feel about it. Part of me wants to be in inspired/mission mode. It would provide meaning and inspiration and a sense of (self-?)importance - all good, affirming things. But the other part of me doesn't want my life, my energy, my identity all tied up in one thing. I am naturally broad and shallow in terms of interests, skills and abilities. I like to learn new things just to the point of being able to do it sufficiently and then I get bored. That type of personality doesn't fit well within this society's structures. Career mode just seems stupid if you're not inspired.

@jace that's a fucked up video

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:27 am

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:35 am
but this life that YOU created is pretty damn good."
That's interesting in light of what my therapist would say. He would definitely agree with the idea of agency - that you have the ability to both create and change. I'm not sure about the second part where the therapist qualifies your life as "Pretty damn good". I think he would address things in terms of value. That your life has value and the life you created has value and you need to look at things through that rubric as opposed to a subjective, malleable and ultimately elusive lens focused on quality of life. So maybe it would be "but this life that YOU created is pretty damn valuable." Who knows. Maybe that's what he meant. At the end of the day they are all quacking shit out of their asses. Thank God my wife's insurance covers most of it.

The video is fucked up. Because he's fucked up. I love Swamp Thing though. But if you just read the words, it seems to be your blog in new wave form.

jacob
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jacob » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:35 am

Price is what you pay, value is what you get...

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:50 am

I think that's why the linguistic distinction is useful in therapeutic settings. "You have a good life" implies externalities and scaling. "You have value" means that Suo can still feel good about himself while his wife berates him for watching John Oliver.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:17 pm

Couple things:

1) Some (much?) of my heightened anxiety over the last few years is related to poor stress management and the poor narrative I construct around it. I have been working on new strategies to deal with stressors/triggers and/or to practice "reframing". To wit:
  1. At work, I've taken to hiding in the newly refurbished cafeteria to eat my lunch rather than my office. It provides a change of scenery and I can look out at the green expanse outside the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall cafeteria windows. I also have been listening to music or audio books during lunch, which provides a bit of a mental refresh during the day.
  2. At work, I try not to get too caught up in my perfectionistic tendencies. So much work is done at a "good enough" level, whether due to the average worker's abilities, motivation or otherwise. There's no point in worrying about the gap between the ideal and the real, especially at Megacorp, where waste is just the cost of doing business. I should temper my expectations of others while also not getting wound up when I am unable to do something to my best level. In other words, I can view this reality with more kindness and less sarcasm and snark.
  3. At work and home, I'm trying to be better about not looking at the daily news as much as I used to. All it does is stir up anxiety with no real accompanying benefit. The world is not ending; it will go on with new challenges; the old challenges weren't "the good old days".
  4. At home, we've agreed on a new strategy to balance schoolwork and gaming. The oldest proposed the mechanics, riffing off something we tried last year that had way too much friction. His proposal, as slightly tweaked by me, is that we check his grades every Sunday. For every A, he gets 2 hours of game time during the following week; 1 hour for a B; -1 hour for a C; -2 hours for a D; and a total zeroing for any F. This provides him a maximum 12 hours a week. This has worked great. He owns his homework time and is motivated to do it; he owns his game time and plays it when he will. I am no longer in the homework/screen-time micromanagement business. This was a HUGE source of stress. I didn't quite realize how much until I saw him taking ownership of his education and responsibly managing his screen-time.
  5. At home, wife is now in charge of pretty much all of the discretionary family budget. *I* ask *her* for the few things I want^^ rather than *her* asking *me* for (forgiveness for) the plethora of things she buys (mostly for the family). I am no longer in the family budget micromanagement business. Actual text from my love during September:
    It's cold but I don't want to turn on the heat. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?! :shock: :lol: :D
    The role reversal has manifested itself in a number of other decisions and conversations. I find it quite amusing. But the best part is how psychologically freeing it feels.

    ^^ I guess it helps that if she says "no", I can still get it - it just comes out of my savings instead of her budget. For September, it was just $75 or so on one fancy beer-run. Speaking of which, I've cut back on alcohol consumption for liver-health, weight-loss and budget reasons.
It's amazing what happens when authority and responsibility is shifted to the appropriate person. Bifurcating authority and responsibility is such a dumbfuck move. I wonder why it took so long to figure this out?

2) I've been feeling weird. Like, the days just blend together and there's not much to really recommend them, but also not much to complain about. And it's that latter thing that has me a little weirded out. Like there's this niggling suspicion or feeling that I've given up or I'm being institutionalized or that (a grand) life is passing me by. It's just so...NORMAL. And I'm just so...FINE WITH IT. What happened to my grand aspirations? What happened to my complaining?!

3) My oldest has been given a free pass from church for a month and we've taken that time to go to "daddy church" (i.e., play outside). It's been nice to have that 1-on-1 time with my oldest to run on the track and play disc golf on Sunday mornings. I am, however, missing the few hours a week I had when it's quiet and when I can be by myself. With a job and a family of 5, quiet alone time is exceedingly rare.

4) I raised the specter of going to 80% work with my boss, who didn't throw up on it. Of course, I framed it as "my wife is thinking of going back to school and/or work, and I've got 3 busy kids..." I didn't have the balls to just say "Yeah, I don't want to work full-time any more." Wife is only barely thinking of going to school/work, so it was a little ambitious to use that as my excuse. Nevertheless, seed planted; maybe I can reap in the next year or so. I do worry about losing some...something...job security?...sense of being needed (maybe solely as it relates to job security, but perhaps also psychologically as well)?...I dunno. I'm sure it would be an adjustment, but it would work out fine. A friend of mine does warn me that "you'll work just as much, but get paid 20% less, don't do it".

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:37 pm

1-b. I am the same. It makes a huge difference to let that go, or at least learn when it's important to not let it go (if that makes sense). 90% of work shit doesn't matter if its done right or just done, save energy for the 10% that does matter and you can still feel good about yourself with less stress.

1-d & e. A relatively recent lesson I've learned with my relationship with the GF. People who love us will generally respect us. We just have to make our preferences known. They actually resent us if we don't given them the opportunity to do so. With the "leash" off, they get to choose to respect the values we have expressed (and us theirs). It makes everyone feel better and grow closer.

4. Yeah, with salaried jobs be prepared to flat out refuse to do everything you used to in a reduced hour/pay situation. If your job can be easily bifurcated into subcategories, make sure it's clear which you would no longer be responsible for to avoid problems.

suomalainen
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September

Post by suomalainen » Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:40 pm

Family/Budget

Our little experiment was a success. In September, our total outlay was $4,232.80, which is the lowest September we've had since 2014. Excluding some items that fell into my budget (alcohol, monthly braces payment), wifey was somewhere in the $3700 range (out of a $5k budget). TTM expenses have been trending down all year, so that is very nice to see. And the best part of the whole thing is that so far there has been zero resentment and I would even go so far as to say I have been pleasantly shocked to see wifey embrace the new paradigm with much more self-motivated gusto than I could ever have imagined.

And I've been tracking a new measure: TTM dividends/expenses = 14.13%. This only counts dividends in the taxable personal account (so no HSA, 401k or Roth IRA), and if it ever reaches 100%...well, that would be fantastic. Not going to happen, but since I'm likely working for at least the next 9 years anyway, it's a bit more of a meaningful (or playful?) measure than simply tracking NW or expenses or the ratio of the two.

Other

- Tryna lose weight again. Last week average: 238.4. Started IF with basically just 1 meal a day (dinner). Couldn't bring myself to do keto again. Just too hard with 4 other people here who are always eating carbs. Experiencing some metatarsalgia for the past almost 2 weeks now, so I've had to lay off the running for a bit. Apparently keeping up with walking hasn't helped, so going to be pretty lazy for a few days to see if that finally gives the foot a break.

- Stress management is working well. I continue to practice letting go when I can and reframing when I can't and that has been working well. I'm definitely the most content I've been in a long while. Here's to hoping that continues and that no bad shit pops up.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by ThisDinosaur » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:11 pm

Say some more about the Family/Budget Experiment, if you dont mind. You're putting her in charge of mortgage, utilities, groceries..etc? Everything but health insurance and alcohol?

Were you giving her any kind of fixed allowance or something before this?

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:03 pm

Well, let's see. When I graduated law school, we had student loans, two car loans and about a year later a mortgage. I maxed out the 401k, but everything else was spent. That resulted in about $2000 of "discretionary spending" after fixed expenses so I told her she had to stay under $2000 since we ran out of money at that point. We didn't go bankrupt. As we paid off loans, the old payment was rolled into other debt, so lifestyle inflation was kept to a minimum. Things were tight, but manageable. The $2000 number was after "fixed" expenses (debt, utilities, monthly charges like cable, etc), and was a rough number of what she could spend on the credit card every month at target, trader joes, costco, walmart, michaels, grocery stores and the like. I kept track on a spreadsheet, but the categories were fairly loose. We also set aside $200/month on travel and $200/month on "house" and I think it was $150 each in "allowance" accounts for each of us in separate sub-accounts (I have a great credit union with very nice digital capabilities). This was our compromise so she could "waste" money on house stuff and I could waste money on travel stuff and we could each spend whatever we wanted on personal stuff without accounting to the other for it. I would then manually move money from the relevant account to the checking account when those expenditures occurred.

We basically kept the same $72,000/year budget for at least 2010-2015 and probably before that (although I don't have the records for those years). In early 2016, I got my personal injury settlement (hit by car while riding my bicycle in 2014). With that and a bonus, we paid off the last of my private student loans and our mortgage. There was nothing to "roll" the old payments into, so I stopped paying attention. Our $72,000/year budget ballooned to something like $85,000 in 2016 and $103,000 in 2017, mostly in extra home improvement and travel expenses, but monthly expenses also increased. I started to get a little...uncomfortable and started talking about her cutting back on spending, freaking out about purchases here and there. Eventually in the summer, she said "just give me a number for the summer", so I did, and she stayed within that number. There was more drama to it and you can read about it earlier in my journal. Anyway, then in August we came up with this current arrangement.

The current arrangement is back to a $72,000/year budget, and the rest goes to after-tax retirement savings. The way we bifurcated it was that she covers everything except debt payments (one more student loan at 1.875% fixed rate, so not paying it off), property taxes and health stuff (basically braces or any surprise health expenses that come up). Local property taxes, the final student loan and health stuff aggregate about $1000/month. This means she gets $5000/month to cover everything that our entire budget used to cover, but she's in charge of all of it. She gets a veto over every expenditure. So, travel and my allowance are now in her control. If I want to spend something and she says "no", it has to come out of my savings. It is understood that my alcohol and any travel I do by myself (not family vacations) comes out of savings.

Long story short, I guess, is that she had a couple of numbers to work with previously ($200 house budget, $150 allowance budget and $2000 discretionary budget), but that fell away for a couple of years and was a lot of work to follow when we used it anyway. Then we had no arrangement for 2 years and things fell apart. Then we had some vague discomfort/tension for about 5-6 months. Then we had a summer budget. Then we had this new all-inclusive budget. Does that make sense? Wife's outta town for a week visiting her sister out west, so I'm a little tipsy right now while the kids are playing video games. We actually had this bet/arrangement that I love making. This time the vehicle was a game of Yatzee. If I won, they had to read scriptures for 3 hours (not that I wanted them to do this, but it was a fun cost on their part); if any of the three of them won, they could play video games for 3 hours tonight. It was close, and I was nervous for a bit that I might actually win, but in the end DS2 won by quite a bit and DS3 beat me by a few points also.

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