Tag Archives: hobbies

Week 88: Falling Off the Financial Wagon

Monday, 23 October 2017

When I find myself somewhat tumbling off the financial wagon and not staying focused, I need something to motivate me to get back onto the wagon.  It helps to re-read Dave Ramsey’s classic, The Total Money Makeover, but it is also important to read other authors – other issues, other perspectives, other ideas.  So, I’ve been re-reading Lauren Greutman’s book, The Recovering Spender.

I can relate a lot to Lauren – especially when I was younger.  I spent money to feel good – for a few minutes.  Then the realizations and guilt hit.  The truth that I had spent money wasn’t as awful as feeling as if I were a failure in my family’s eyes, especially my mother’s.

I was the “bad” child and that applied to money especially.  There were criticisms, some realistic and some unrealistic, about how much I spent on things, such as clothing or eye glasses.  My mother’s concepts of the cost of things were caught up in the prices of the 1930s through the 1950s.  She forgot that time moves on, and prices of things increase.  Rather than ask questions, she would just make comments that didn’t help at all.  In later years, once I left home, she could be generous, so I think a lot of her complaints were because she was surrounded by oodles of children she had to raise.

Moving forward, it took awhile to realize that my spending was an addiction, and it was necessary to break that cycle.  Part of it came with better income.  Part of it came with just being done with the misery of debt and realizing the pain of debt was not worth it.  Both my husband and I were in that same addictive cycle, and not good at all in facing our issue as we both tend to avoid confrontation – and thus avoid problem solving.  I tend to be more decisive and action-oriented than Mr. 182, so I started making decisions about how we spend our money and what we do with it.  He came along unwillingly, but now is much more on board as he sees our progress.

We both see we are in a better place financially than 18 months ago.  Our debt ratio has gone down, and our net worth has increased.  We have also come to discuss how we value our money – what we want to do with it.  Mostly, we want to be done with debt, but we also value saving and spending it on things we enjoy – primarily, our hobbies.  For Mr. 182, it is mostly for brewing, but also for rocketry.  I vary in what I do, and while I was involved in photography a lot over the past 10 years, I am now returning to watercolor painting and drawing.  There is outlay for both hobbies, varying in season as well as how supplies are running.  We need to buy things like hops and grain, film, paper, and paint, to name a few.  However, while all need to be renewed, the renewal rate varies, and is seldom very expensive all at once.  We seldom travel, but those costs are saved for as well.

Leading a satisfying life is largely dependent on what you choose.  By this I mean that you must make conscious choices and think about what you value.  We value our time to be able to do what we enjoy, and thus we need to plan for those expenses.  For example, we have $200 allocated to a grain purchase in November.  When I returned to watercolor, I needed to inventory supplies.  These were determined as October hobby expenses.  Old paints needed replacing, some new brushes purchased, paper, and other small supplies,  Once these big expenses are cleared, the replacements will come later, as big cost purchases once or twice a year, or slow ones, such as a tube of paint needing to be replaced if it gets used up.

As Greutman points out in her book, choosing your values and aligning them with your spending makes sense, and it makes you feel much better.  It helps prioritize decisions.  It returns the locus of control from the external to the internal:  “I can’t control myself!” moves to “I can do this!”

Self-control is a form of self-denial, but it doesn’t have a punitive feeling to it.  It is freeing emotionally, and given that money is emotional, positive emotions are much more pleasant than unpleasant ones, such as the voice of an angry parent.  You are now your own parent.  YOU are in charge.




Monday 97: A Weekend Using Things Up

Monday, 28 August 2017

If you have done any reading here at length, you know that we believe that hobbies are an integral part of who we are and our life style.  We don’t spend a lot of money on clothes or going out to eat; we are slowly working our way out of debt.

For us, the area which has expenses is always the area of hobbies.  Mr. 182 likes to brew and shoot off rockets – monthly brew sessions need yeast and hops and malt.  I enjoy photography, painting, and writing.  Photography requires film and developing – I scan my own film, and seldom print.  A digital camera is a one-time investment (unless you get a bad case of G.A.S. – gear acquisition syndrome).  Writing needs paper and pen, or a laptop, or a chrome book.  Painting, though, needs supplies, and usually all at once it seems!

Painting is not, for me at least, a digital art done on the computer.  It needs paper and brushes and colors.  Luckily, I have a lot on hand.  Instruction books are also enjoyable and need to be books, not a digitized version.  I spent Sunday afternoon painting and practicing watercolors, something I always enjoy.  Very seldom does paper go bad.  If it does, or I don’t like it, it is perfect for practice.  Brushes can last for years with proper care.  Watercolors, in the tube, need to be replaced as they are used up.  If they aren’t used, they can dry out and become hard as a rock.  Then, I open up the tube and use what paint I can salvage, not by squeezing it out, but by forcing the tube open and putting the paint in a small plastic square, which then goes into a paint box.

Monthly costs for hobbies vary all the time.  $25.00 a month for each of us gets us our basic needs.  A batch of beer, if there is malt on hand, needs fresh hops and yeast, and this amount covers both.  At times, the amount goes up with the need to buy bulk malt or specialty grains, but we find this is a really good average amount for brewing.  My $25.00 sometimes is used, such as $6.00 to develop a roll of film.  For July, I spent about $114 for supplies, from water brushes to paper to whatever.  August expenses are about $15.00 for more paper.

Hobbies are experiential, and really cannot be replaced by anything else.  They provide activities for the hand and brain and heart.  Connections with people of similar interests also occur, and new friends can be made.  I feel grounded and sane after a long creative session – there is something that makes a soul shift which changes attitude and perspective.  The intense focus of a hobby changes our brain waves, I am sure, much as does meditation or physical activity.

Hobbies are not self-indulgence but necessary for a fulfilling life!

Monday 107: The Cost of Hobbies

Monday, 19 June 2017

Here chez 182 we have hobbies.  Mr. 182 brews beer and builds rockets.  I like photography, writing, and drawing.  Time permitting, I also design things and clothes, and sew them.  Certainly brewing beer and building rockets have more out-of-pocket expenses than drawing and writing, but the payoff is the same as my less expensive hobbies:  we both enjoy doing them, we are happier people for doing these creative endeavors, our minds work, our bodies move.  The benefit of a hobby is more than just about spending money!

Having time to do something you like is sometimes hard to find.  Setting time aside to do something you enjoy is wothwhile – it gives you something to look forward to, useful products emerge – you cannot argue about the value of good, inexpensive beer!  – and there is a sense of satisfaction and raison d’etre which work does not always provide.

Hobbies are also a good way to connect with others with similar interests.  Sometimes this is through online groups, but even better is when you join local groups with real, live people!  Isolation is an issue for many people, especially older people when they retire and kids move out of the house.  Fostering an active community and being part of one is significant for health reasons, physical, intellectual, emotional.

Hobbies also help cope with stress.  Doing things, rather than being a receptacle for the TV’s antics, helps the mind sort things out on a subliminal level.  Many times when I am frustrated or trying to figure things out, I “put it on the back burner” (of the stove), and let it simmer.  While that is going on, I do something else.  Often, solutions present themselves after immersing myself in creative activities.

The mind is an amazing thing.  Right side and left side connect through the corpus callosum, and each half has its duties, both of which are completely different.  Getting them to work in harmony is wonderful – like a piece of art in itself.

Altogether, hobbies are worthwhile investments in yourself and those around you.  Creativity fosters new ways of thinking.  Rocket parts cost money.  Brewing costs money.  Drawing and sewing and photography cost money.  How much is spent depends on what is needed.  The budget should always allow for such activities.

The costs of not having hobbies is far greater . . . there is a loss that goes beyond the dollars saved that cannot even be measured.


Week 118: March Recap, Taxes, and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Monday, 3 April 2017

I hate March.  It’s one of the most expensive months on our yearly calendar, and downright depressing.  Taxes are the reason.  You pay all year, and then pay again.  However, we are better prepared than just a year ago, when we started 182 Mondays, and I need to really focus on that as I write because this monthly recap is not pretty, and I’m feeling really depressed . . . but I’ll get over it!

As always, a different month, different expenses.  In March, we paid state taxes, received a federal refund, and paid property taxes.  It was also time to restock our coffee supplies and meat supplies.  These all added to the costs for March.

  • Taxes paid:  $4295.00
  • Credit cards paid:  $1602.00
  • Student loans:  $786.00
  • Electricity:  $167.00
  • Mobile phone:  $198.00
  • Land line:  $80.00
  • Household gas:  $65.00
  • Gardener:  $100.00
  • Insurance (house, car, life):  $612.00
  • Trash:  $60.00
  • Dog food:  $38.00
  • Gasoline:  $97.00
  • Groceries:  $612.00
  • Coffee:  $64.00
  • Household supplies:  $505.00
  • Dining out:  $61.00
  • Hobbies (major parts purchases):  $745.00
  • Vehicle registration:  $238.00
  • Savings:  $1000.00

Total costs, without including savings, is $10,326.00, and with bimonthly savings of $500 each, it is $11,326.00.  We have been saving for taxes, so that pulled money out of the savings account; this brings total monthly costs to $7031.00, not including mortgage.

Observations:  This month was expensive beyond the normal allocations.  Taxes in all directions, but as they were anticipated and saved for, there was not any more stress than is normal when you have to write those checks!  Next month, our mobile phone will drop, I think to $160.00.  Groceries should remain under $400.00, trying for $350.00.  Coffee supplies should be good for the rest of the month – we buy about 6 lbs. of coffee at a time, to blend and to grind at home.  Vehicle registration was another annual fee.  Household gas was up because we had several weeks of wind, cold, and rain.  Hobby supplies were high as Mr. 182 is working on making a fancy brew rig and I bought some art supplies and a book.

Remembering to put money into savings every month is a top priority around here!

Looking ahead to April:  This next month I want to stay on budget as much as possible.  Overall monthly expenses, including mortgage, are about $8100. 00.  Add in savings, and we have $9100.00.  Again, credit cards are the biggest problem, but we are paying out minimally $1500.00 / month.  Yes, we could change our mobile phone charges, but the in-laws pay us a monthly co-pay; Mr. 182 is reimbursed for the land line, which he needs as he works from home.  This reduces our monthly bills by about $180.00 / month.  Hobbies were planned and budgeted for last month, but no high costs are expected in the foreseeable future.

And down the road, we expect to begin saving $2000.00 / month for vacation, while still allocating $1500.00 for the credit cards.

The fact is, we are really tired of paying on the credit cards!  These should be paid off – they better be! – by the end of May 2019, in time for the end of 182 Mondays to Retirement!  To make this bitter pill more tolerable, I calculated our net worth, and that was fairly good news . . . the question is, do you include life insurance value or not when you calculate it???

There is light at the end of the tunnel.


Week 121: The Value of Planning Ahead

Right now, Mr. 182 and I are chafing under our debt pay-off plan.  It would be nice to be able to go out and do whatever we want, spend whatever we want, and not think about it.  That’s what we have done for years, and here we are, proverbial nose to the proverbial grindstone, and not really happy.  We have two more years to go, unless we up the program.

What is it about spending money that feels soooooo good?  Freedom?  Love?  What is that little hook that gets so addictive?  Not spending money also feels good – but it’s a different type of feeling.  It’s addicting in its own way – more intellectual – certainly a lot less emotional.  Perhaps that is the hook of spending – it is an emotional rather than intellectual feeling.

I don’t think there is anything wrong about our feelings of frustration right now.  It is probably part of the program with spending addicts.  It’s uncomfortable because it is new.  Being on a leash is not fun.  What is important is to recognize the feeling, acknowledge it, and then have the self-control to not give in, even when the little voice inside starts hollering, “I want!  I want! I want!”

Planning Ahead for Vacation!

Now, this is fun to come.  We have a budget, and we have a goal.  We are traveling for two weeks with Mr. 182’s parents, to visit the wild west and family history.  We have booked all our lodgings, come cheap, some not, and organized our route.  This is all for August!  The nice part is, we know what and where we will be, and we can figure out what we are going to do.  Even better, we know the costs.  And we can plan for those costs.

It’s good to plan and take vacations.  So is paying off bills.  Every month, the amount owed goes down, and the money in the bank, in equity, in investments, go up.

The long term debt payoff is important, but so is the short term.  What I mean by short term is the day-to-day stuff.  One thing that helps us out is to make sure we have play money.  We need to be able to indulge our hobbies, which, fortunately, don’t cost a lot.  They are in the monthly budget.  We also get a small monthly allowance which we don’t have to explain to the other how we spend.  These tactics take the edge off our chafing when we feel it.

There is true value in planning ahead, but planning ahead is not just for debt pay off.  It includes planning ahead for contentment with one’s daily life, one’s little pleasures, and the daily things which keep one connected to one’s true inner being, to one’s soul.

Monday 160: Playing

Leaf Dance Quilt

Monday, 6 June 2016

This weekend marks the last week of full time work.  Next week is summer hours.  What does this mean?  No more 11 hours days (those start again in August, I guess), just very short days where I can actually have a life.  And, as I jokingly say, I need to practice for retirement as I don’t want to be bored.  And this is why there are no news updates for the first Monday in June about the debt pay-off and the financial savings and savvy I display.  Instead, this is about the importance of playing.

There are people who write lists and accomplish things.  This is done, that is done, this is yet to be done.  We are not like that.  For us, there is a very real need for idleness and time to think and time to make things and time to read and time to do something that is a pleasure, not a necessity.  This can make people like us feel lazy and rather guilty when we compare ourselves to others who are more industrious, who can tear off the fascia boards on their homes and plow the back forty.  We don’t.  We try to do as much as we can, but there is always that breaking point where we either stop or decide the impingement on our time is not worth it, and will pay for it.

Play is essential for everyone.  Having fun.  Celebrating.  Sitting on the beach.  Climbing a tree.  Reading a book.  Learning something for fun rather than school.  I spent this weekend cutting out pieces for a quilt – with more to still be done – and scanning and editing film negatives.

I don’t normally quilt, but I do enjoy sewing.  I don’t like using rotary cutters as I always seem to mess up whatever I cut.  So, I bought a quilt package with all the cloth in it – the material – and am cutting out the pieces prior to sewing.  The colors caught my attention as they are the blues and greens I enjoy.  And then I got it home, pulled everything out, and thought, “Why the hell am I doing this to myself???”

Why the hell, indeed?  I realized in that instance that I have lost the ability to focus on singular activities.  I’ve been running ragged and multitasking for months.  I do this, run to that, become crazy, and remain crazy.  It is hard to sit still and focus on one thing, here pinning and cutting out pieces, and more importantly, getting into the rhythm of it.  I also looked at the directions and felt overwhelmed even before I started.  It’s then that I realized that I find it so very difficult these days to focus on one thing alone without getting bored and restless.  However, the quilt is quite small and not difficult to piece; it is called “Leaf Dance” and you may find information about it here.

“All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a dull boy (and girl).”  Dull as in not using my brain, dull as in learning to be helpless, dull as in not figuring things out, dull as in just existing, dull as in hiring someone to fix something that I might be able to do on my own.

I hope to change this during the summer, and figure out what the hell to do about my next year’s schedule before it kills me.

Monday 174: Hobbies

Monday, 29 February 2016

Frugal living – without fun – without pleasure – is living hell.  The mind becomes dull, the spirit dies, and life becomes filled with a litany of “thou shalt not.”  This is where hobbies and interests need nurturing, sometimes with a bit of cost.

The question is, how much do you need to spend?

The other half is a beer brewer.  He makes kick-ass beer and seldom loses a batch.  We have beer on tap almost all the time, and usually a variety.  All costs considered, the beer we serve is probably about $1.00 – $1.50 a glass (and that’s a generous glass, too!).  He grinds his grain, freezes his hops, and has built a lot of his own equipment, such as his brew rig.  There are two refrigerators for brews – one to ferment, and one to serve.  The latter fridge has pull taps, once more, built by him.  If he were to brew monthly, extra costs may come to $10.00 – $20.00 for yeast and specialty ingredients.  And, he is a happy camper.

What Once WasFor me, I really don’t need to buy anything, except, when I do it, film for photography.  I am learning to process my own black and white film.  Color film can be developed locally for $5.00 a roll without scanning – I can do that at home.  My freezer has rolls of film in it, ready to go.  I don’t need any new cameras or equipment, as I have all I need  . . .  but that doesn’t preclude wanting!

Besides hobbies, there are other things which we need:   books to read (library), travel (a drive up the coast to see what spring is bringing, or finding a new place for a long walk), time with friends and family.  Costs here are variable in terms of money, but invaluable in memories.

Enjoy yourself!

The overall point here is that, despite budgeting, life is to be lived and enjoyed.  Moments are to be savored.  The mind, the spirit, and body are all interconnected – a failure to create health in one leads to illness in all others.  The holistic approach means to recognize everything is connected, from the dollar saved to the dollar spent.