Dear Universe:

Please send me a dozen white-chocolate covered crispy rice hearts from Selma's. I had one last week and I've been day-dreaming about it ever since. Well, in between dreams of Barack Obama making me his "boo." [I know, random right?]

But really, I'm about THISCLOSE to robbing an old lady and taking her change purse to get some of these sweet treats! Grief coupled with my monthly hormone swings can make bad things happen. I'm jus' sayin'.

So save an old lady the drama. Make with the goods and nobody gets hurt.


And in other news...
There is none. Aside from debating on whether or not I should treat myself to these morsels of deliciousness. It would be about $35 once I include shipping that would have to come out of my grocery budget because I don't have a lot of spare cash lying around. I'll hold off on this for a week. If I still want it, then I'll buy it. In the meantime, I'm researching the cost of building my own computer.

I have money. But I'm not spending.

Yes, I'm concerned about my job security and not having enough money for the future, but believe it or not, my biggest problem is laziness. I have two fully-funded goals that specifically require me to spend money: My new clothes and computer funds.

When it comes to clothes, I'm out of my element. I'm more frump than fashionista and would like to change my look...well...as much as $500 will allow. I have fashionable friends, but they are used to my unlimited spending and have smaller bodies so I'm not sure how much help they can be. I've got $500 and a plus-sized body. Honestly, I'm not really looking forward to this and trying to avoid it. However even I'm getting tired of looking like hell, so I have to snap to it. It's just...I'm not really sure where to start. Meh...

I love computers and technology. The one I use at home I built myself back in 2001. Even after all the upgrades it's time for it to be replaced. However I can't figure out what I want. Build another one myself? Get a pre-fab? Get a laptop? I'm more interested in this than clothes, but I still repeat my "meh."

I think another problem I perceive is that I didn't budget enough money for each of these goals. Is $500 really enough? I'm not trying to replace my entire wardrobe, but will this be enough to get me a decent everyday work wardrobe? Is $1,200 enough for what I really want? Well, that's a hard question to answer if I can't settle on what it is I really want. That said, there's a part of me looking forward to the challenge of seeing what I come up with that ends up fitting my needs and budget. I'm confident I'll work something out. Eventually...whenever I get to it... : /

Facing the inevitable

Friday afternoon my mom called me at work and said to come home. The palliative care doctor was there and said it would be a matter of hours. I hung up and noticed that I had 10 minutes to make the next train which was several blocks away. My only other option would have been to wait for the next train in an hour and a half or take a cab. I decided that the $35 cab ride home to see my about-to-die father counts as an emergency.

Roughly 15 minutes after I got home, my father died. Clearly, I was glad I didn't wait for the next train.

Seems the end of my father's life signaled the beginning of unheard of family fuckery.

  • While meeting with the people I'm buying the casket from, why was my uncle trying to talk with them about being a rep for them in his city? I mean, really. Really? Seriously? Like, right when I'm trying to pick out the casket for my dad, his brother, he's trying to make business deals? After that, I let my mom know that he was THISCLOSE to getting thrown in the grave with my dad. It was truly a "Jesus take the wheel" moment.

  • I was sitting in my room looking for pictures of my father for the programs on my computer when my aunt walks in. She gives me some torn-out pages from a catalogue and says that she wants me to buy these items for her and she'll give me the money. Ok, that's awkward. I ended up bringing it up to my mom. Let's just say she handled the situation right then and there.

  • Mom called one of my half-sisters to let her know dad had passed. We couldn't get a hold of her and wondered why we hadn't heard from her. When dad was first diagnosed, she called a couple times a day, then nothing. Well she called back. We hadn't heard from her because she was in jail for the past 35 days due to traffic violations (massive side-eye from me on that). The day dad died, she had gotten out of jail, lost her apartment, and found out one of her dogs was euthanized. She called us from her girlfriends home, but had to leave that day. Then the follow exchange occurred:

    Sis: "I'd love to be there for dad's funeral, but I have nothing. I have no money. No where to live. I don't know what to do."

    Me: "Gosh, that's just absolutely terrible. I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for you and all you have to deal with right now."

    Sis: "Yeah. I don't know what to do. I have no money, but I really want to go to the funeral, but I can't."

    Me: "Well, don't worry about it. Take the time you have right now to focus on you. You still have your job so you can make it out of this. Do you, and everything else will work out. I have to go because the funeral people are here. Good luck."

    Damn straight I didn't offer her money. Do I really have to explain to you why?
But it didn't stop there, seems like we signed up for the Friends and Family Fuckery package. A long-time friend stopped by the house to give her condolences. The following exchange occurred:

Me: "Can I get you something to drink?"

Friend: "I'd love some tea."

Me: "Sure, I've got some regular or green tea here..."

Friend: "You don't have any ginger or mint tea? You know how we islanders are, we have to have these kinds of teas, so that's what I want."

Me: :::Spinning on my heels, hand on my hip, in a calm, low voice::: "You know, for someone that just walked into my house to comfort me and offer me support because my father died not even a day ago, you have a lot of damn nerve to be so fucking demanding."

Friend: "I'll have any tea you have to offer."

Me: "Great. I love when you visit!"

She probably sensed that she was two steps away from ending up tipped into the grave her damn self.

I'm sure this isn't the end of the nonsense, as the funeral isn't until Saturday, my uncle doesn't leave until mid next week, and we have even more relatives coming to stay with us for the funeral. I don't believe in a god of any sort, however I my pray to one to help keep me from losing it this week. And by "it" I mean my freedom because I'm in jail for familial homicide.

But anyway...

  • Mom and I spent the weekend taking care of funeral details. She asked me to use the $2,000 I saved for her to buy my father's casket. I found a place online that would send a rep to the house to look through a catalog. I chose something that looked nice, but not flashy. The grand total, including delivery, came to $950. The casket should arrive at the funeral home today or tomorrow, which is fine, as the funeral isn't until Saturday. Hopefully everything will go smoothly.

  • A Saturday funeral. You have to pay extra for that to the tune of $1,000+. While I cringed at first, I understand that she wanted to have the service on a day that would accommodate the most schedules. It's her money, I just left it alone.

  • BF is coming to town on Thursday night and staying until next week Wednesday. We decided that for a multitude of reasons (my house with have 6 people and 1 shower, he's bringing his dog to avoid the expense of boarding, and it's just too many damn relatives to push on him at once especially under the circumstances). The hotel is about 30 to 45 minutes away from my house, but will take dogs and would cost around $350 total. I said that I would split the costs with him, but he's not having it. I'll just use the money for meals for us, etc. There will be a lot of food at the house, but I know I'm going to want to get away from that for a while. And I've been craving Indian and Ethiopian food...

  • One of my aunt's pitched a little fit because I'm not wearing a dress to the funeral. Again, mom "handled" that situation. Look, I love my dad. However I don't see anything wrong with wearing grey slacks and a black top. Also, did I mention it's going to be 15 degrees outside with snow on Saturday? Yeah. While my aunt is out there getting frostbite, I'm gonna be in my pants , ginormous Eddie Bauer parka, and snow boats. Dad didn't raise an idiot.

Three goals down, three more to go

I've been taking the approach of saving for my goals one at a time. For the past 5 to 6 weeks, I've been near obsessive about maximizing and sticking to my budget to save as much as I can. So far so good! Today I was able to check off my computer fund as another goal met. Now I have to see how much computer I can get for $1,200 max. Still contemplating getting a laptop with separate monitor. Anyway, I'll research that, but I'm glad this one is done. After funding that, I still had $200 so I put that towards my travel fund, which puts me at 20% of that goal.

Now it's time to focus on the next three goals:
  • Travel
  • Unemployment Fund
  • Charity

Travel is very important, especially right now. Back in December, BF and I decided that monthly visits were necessary to maintain our relationship. However with my father's illness, the very idea of leaving town is unfathomable. That means BF comes here, which is fine, however he'd need help paying for a hotel (if you recall, BF is busy trying to pay off debts and save a little bit). That $200 mentioned earlier should come in handy for that and a meal or two. The plan is to see him next weekend, possibly sooner depending on my dad. I'll also have to save more earlier on because I'd prefer BF come here over the next few months at least, because I wouldn't want to leave my mother alone in the house right away. Wow...a lot to think about here that I'm not sure I'm ready for.

Unemployment Fund
I'm am very eager to meet this goal for obvious reasons. The good news is that I already have a $10k cushion in there. Once I get a little more cash in my travel fund, this will be my end-all, be all for a while.

This goal will be reached, but when? Should I knock it out with my next paycheck, or should I wait until my UF is fully funded (projected completion in August)? In spite of my obsession for my own financial security, I can't forget to give to those that can use the help. Right now, I have it schedule to begin saving for this goal after the UF. The only reason I'm contemplating doing it sooner is to just get it out of the way.

Random Update

I have a bunch of little things I've been meaning to share. On their own, they don't justify a whole post, so here we go.

  • Dad's health is declining rapidly. We've got him juiced on enough morphine fall a moose. Hey, whatever keeps him comfortable. The home care doctor says we're looking at a few days, but mom and I aren't ready to accept that. How can we?

  • That said, I've sent two options for a casket to mom. She asked that I take the $2,000 I saved for her to pay for it. Chances are I'll go with a decent one I saw on the Costco (!) website for $925 which includes standard shipping. Since we don't have anywhere to store the casket until it's needed (I'm sure the funeral home with charge us to hold it) chances are good we'll need to do expedited shipping. I'm hoping I don't spend more than $1,500. Then I'd give the rest to mom. The funeral plot, service, etc. has all been purchased by mom a few weeks ago.

  • Subject change: Work. Word on the curb is that the employer is considering pay cuts by way of shortening people's work schedules instead of doing layoffs. I'm all for keeping a job these days. The pay cut would suck, though. As if we weren't just getting by already. The other thing that would suck is that one would be a part-time employee with part-time benefits. That would be a significant adjustment. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

  • Back to my dad: Actually, the house. It's full of people. Right now. It's 9pm. A bunch of people from his church, including the pastor, and some family members are here to pray with him. Not sure dad will receive his last rights tonight though.

Am I the only one who believes they are not obligated to their parents money at ANY point in time, live or dead?

Dave Ramsey has a little saying he likes to repeat: "Live like no one else so you can live like no one else." Make some choices that might be deemed unpopular by the masses so that you will live life on your own terms, unlike those very same people.

I was chatting with a couple coworkers this afternoon and the subject of inheritances came up (they have no idea about my father, btw).

  • Me: "Personally, if I had kids, I wouldn't leave them anything. I would teach them skills and provide them with the tools to create their own wealth. After that, they should be doing fine on their own. Also, I believe the whole idea of leaving money for children, family members, etc. creates a sense of entitlement amongst supposed heirs. And don't get me started on the possible ulterior motives."

:::Both coworkers give me a look like I just told them Jesus works the pole at Platinum Stages on Saturday nights:::

  • Coworker #1: "What about assets? You wouldn't pass along that?"

  • Me: "Nope. Actually, I take that back. Depends on the assets. If they are heirlooms, family pictures, things that can't be replaced and hold memories, those would be passed down. Everything else I'd give to charity."

  • Coworker #2: "That goes against my christian beliefs. You have to leave something."

  • Me: "I don't subscribe to such beliefs."

After that exchange, it took them a long time to even look me in the eye. I had no idea the topic would create such a reaction. Especially since some of the most wealthy among us (Warren Buffet anyone?) believe something similar. I'd rather give loved ones money, help, "provide for them" while I am alive and can see the good it's doing. If I'm an ass for that, so be it. One thing I should clarify: If I had dependents, then yes, I would make arrangements for them to be taken care of. However if we're talking about grown, healthy people, then no.

I appreciate that my perspective on this is a little different. My parents are not rolling in dough. There will be no passing of assets when the time comes. And I couldn't care less. Now, would I turn it down if it where given to me? Probably not. However the point is that it's not my money/assets to make a decision about. They can do with it whatever they hell they want. If my mom said upon her demise to sell everything and give the money to an orphanage in Kenya I'd not only be happy to make sure it happens, I'd be proud of her.

See, it's like this: No amount of money, land, or trinkets could make the death of my father easier. The people I love are not commodities. The things I love about them, like their sense of humor, character, memories shared, have value far greater than anything that could be left behind in a will. The idea that I MUST leave something behind or that someone must leave me something offends me. Then again, I'm the one that doesn't want to give or receive Christmas gifts for pretty much the same reasons. Guess I'm the exception.

Another Free Lunch! Yessssssss!

One of the senior leaders of my company was here to have a chat so they brought in super-tasty sandwiches. Nothing like Chipotle, but hey, it was still tasty and free! Plus I appreciated getting the chance to interact with one of the leaders of the firm, since it doesn't happen often.

More hungry than tired

Because I don't have much energy today:

  • We admitted dad to the hospital last night at the request of his doc because he was dehydrated (has trouble swallowing) and his blood pressure was dangerously low.

  • We mad the decision to send him in an ambulance vs. driving ourselves because people brought to the ER via ambulance are seen by a doctor immediately, instead of having to wait for hours. Such would have been the case last night because the ER was packed.

  • It cost us over $400 to use the ambulance. It's probably not covered by Medicare. Expensive, yes. And while it wasn't a life-or-death immediate emergency, we wanted him to see a doctor and get started on fluids sooner rather than later.

  • We got to the hospital around 9pm. We didn't leave until a little after 1am. Then I got up at 5am to get read for work.

  • Hopefully, he won't be in the hospital more than a few days. Just long enough for them to pump him up with fluids and drugs so he can be comfortable at home.

  • Speaking of comfort. We've decided to move to palliative care. It's not quite hospice in that we're not stopping his chemo. We're still fighting the cancer, however we'll get more support by way of medical equipment (hospital bed, wheelchair) and professional homecare (home visits by a nurse and doctor to administer chemo, do blood work, etc.). Thankfully, all of this is covered by Medicare.

Yay! Free Lunch!

Consultant: "Hey, do you have lunch plans today?"
Me: "No, why? What's up?"
Consultant: "I'll get you lunch if you get me lunch!"

Turns out he was in back-to-back meetings today. He asked if I could get him lunch. He would give me cash to cover something for the both of us. Awww! This consultant is SO awesome and considerate. Anyway, I got him a healthy salad with dressing on the side remember that his cholesterol was kinda high when we, along with thousands of other coworkers, took an HRQ (Health Risk Questionnaire). I got the chicken caesar salad with extra dressing. What? My cholesterol was fine!

My take on the Balanced Money Formula

A few months ago I read on JD's blog about the Balanced Money Formula. In their book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi suggest that instead of listing a line item for everything in your budget, you should create three buckets:

  • Needs (50%): Things you can't live without, like your rent/mortgage, food, insurance, etc.
  • Wants (30%): Stuff like cable t.v., dining out, etc.
  • Savings (20%): Whatever is left over from the above. This can be used for debts also.

This method has helped me flesh out a budget for whenever I move out on my own. You'll notice that my percentages are different. Part of it is how I decided what should go where, another part is the reality of living in a HCOL city. So based on an estimated take home pay of $2,300 a month I drafted the following:

Technically, I could afford to pay a much higher rent. However doing so would significantly cut into how much I can save. I estimate $700 should get me a decent studio in the city. Yes, I consider an Internet connection a need!

I put a high priority on savings, so this bucket is much bigger than suggested. Especially since I still have financial goals to accomplish.

I don't want for much. I love dining out, and anything left over can go towards any online gaming/computer geekery.

Using this formula has really helped me wrap my head around a scenario I've yet to encounter. It's helped me feel more confident about moving foward to getting my own place when that time comes.