Budgeting 101

The first question I encountered when I considered this sabbatical is how will I afford it? I’m sure it’s what most people think also but they are too polite to ask.  My friend Malori is 9, and she’s not shy.  She directly asked me where I got the money and how much I had.  My response was “I work, and I have enough” and that it was in the bank.  She was relieved to hear that because if I had it in a jar somewhere, a burglar could steal it, and then I might have to move!

Moving is the second question I faced.  I live in a lovely, fairly big house. It’s just under 2500 sq ft, which is more than one person and two dogs need.  But it’s comfortable and I like it. A lot.  I spent a fair amount of time during the early days of grief reclaiming this house as “mine” and not “ours.” That meant painting, for example, and rearranging furniture, taking the dead animals off the walls, and buying candles and plants, among other things.  I could sell it and move to a smaller place, but I’m not sure I’d gain much financially unless I left the area completely.  I have no equity in this house (that’s what moving 9 times in your adult life does to equity). Closing and moving costs would take money out of my pocket probably. And there’s the drama and hassle of moving to consider. Besides the really big question of Where?!? which I have no answer for right now.

Putting together a budget for a year is at best an educated guess, and at least a wild guess.  I’m sure it is harder to stick to it in the early days because the pool is much more full.  Budgeting is, though, really a declaration of one’s values. If you looked at my checkbook register right now, you’d conclude I like to eat (which isn’t necessarily a value of good health); I like books (which does indicate I like learning and entertainment); I buy a fair amount of gasoline because I come and go a lot (which may be a value I place on family and friends); and I indulge myself regularly with things like clothes and massages (read: I value self-care).  Making the choices about where to trim and where to cut and where to just leave things alone is my challenge.  Of course, I made a plan before I made my decision to have this time off. Sticking to it will be hard, so I just have to make sure it’s worth it.  Easier said than done. I already found a women’s meditation retreat I want to go to, for the tune of $450 plus gas.  This is where the debate of investment v. expense comes in.  I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m seriously considering it.  I value my mental health more than … what? Movies? Busch Gardens? Eating out? Maybe all of them, if I have to come up with $500.

Budgeting 101.  I’m back to tossing around the idea of downsizing … or sharing my place. Maybe I can join Airbnb and bring in some income. Maybe I can sell something for additional cash (my motorcycle??).  Again, no drama and hassle wanted.  The key will be to discipline myself from the start and not hope to make up spent money down the line.  This means I’d better go make my lunch for today!

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