Debt Reduction

When things fall apart … an optimistic take on things

First and foremost – THANK YOU for all of the awesome comments on my “grocery shopping on a budget” post. I really appreciated it and so many things that people said resonated with me.

So – here I am … I have a rare weekend at home alone. The Hubby has headed south to his hometown where he’s helping an old friend rebuild some computers. Yesterday, I couldn’t stop grinning – because although I miss him dreadfully (and the damn cat keeps meowing for him …) – this weekend is truly my oyster. I have things to bake, things to clean, things to organize, hikes to take, movies to watch, wine to drink … oh man, I cannot tell you how excited I am to just do what I want – like eat macaroni and cheese straight out of the saucepan and not plan on sharing it with anyone. (I never said I was perfect …)

Well, long story short – it seems like when my husband wants to go away for the weekend, that’s when nearly every electronic gadget in the house decides to take a systematic dump on me. On Thursday, it was my computer – it wouldn’t hook up to the Internet. “No worries,” I told my husband. “I can just use your computer.” There’s something wrong with our Internet router – Hubby thinks that will be a $100 fix. That’s manageable.

Shortly after my husband backed out of the driveway, I decided that vegging out was in order – maybe catching up on some Food Network shows saved on our Tivo. When I turned on the TV, I was greeted with a frozen screen. The Tivo needed to reboot. Well, that was easy enough … and it worked for a bit last night. But when I turned the TV on this morning to make sure that everything was working, I was greeted by Tivo’s “Welcome! Powering up …” screen. And … it’s still on. Ryan’s been worried that the harddrives are going out on the Tivo (he’s had that for about five years now … I guess it’s lifespan is nearly over.), but of course it would happen while he was gone.

So yeah – technologically, most everything in our house that was constructed after the year 2000 seem to be falling apart. Yet my oven, which is from the 1980s, keeps kicking. (Make any conclusion that you will about how things were constructed now versus then …) And I shouldn’t be so dramatic … “when things fall apart.” Indeed, I’m a spoiled brat when it comes how annoyed I get with these things … and how I forget sometimes to focus on the larger picture … I don’t need a Tivo. We don’t need two computers that are hooked up to the Internet. Do we even need cable? Do we need Internet? The answer to all of these questions is NO. And I don’t even mind the whole “falling apart” aspect – I have many more productive things to do with my time, but I’m annoyed because to systematically replace these things will take money. And we can afford it – it just sucks that all of these things are happening at once.

The irony is that before I lived with my husband, I did not have the Internet. I had a TV, but no cable – I watched a lot of movies that I had in my collection, listened to a lot of music and watched the entire “West Wing” TV series by getting the discs for free from the library and getting them via Netflix. And now I’m bitching about the technology that I never needed before abandoning me …

So my apologies – this is a pretty self-indulgent rant. When I was reporting the status quo of our technology situation to my husband (I’m more upset over this for his sake, because he’s the IT guy in our family …), I listed all the good things we have going for us … right now, our cars are in pretty solid shape thanks to a wonderful mechanic and investing in the fixes we’ve needed to make. We have each other (sappy moment!), we are in no danger of losing our house to foreclosure. We have an Evil Cat. Our families claim that they love us. 🙂 And Netflix is still working.

I think this post opens up a lot of doors for some good conversation. And likely a couple snarky comments against me … if I was a truly frugal person, I would have chucked technology awhile ago. I can’t even argue that technology is a necessary evil. But this is my life … and sometimes I get disgruntled that all of my technology seems to be giving up the ghost. Sometimes I get pissed off that it’s not prudent to just buy the big screen TV that my husband has been coveting for the past three years, but that we’ve put off in favor of “smarter” purchases – like a new mattress to replace the one that my folks bought us for $15 at a garage sale, the shingles that our house needs.

But I love technology – I love the fact that I can communicate to you guys through this forum. I love Facebook – I love that I have friends all over the country and that I can see pictures of my new cousin who was born in Chicago and that when my niece is born, I’ll be able to “see” her via Skype. And I love my life – I love that instead of working a weekend job this year like last summer, that my husband and I took road trips almost every weekend this summer to see friends and loved ones. I love that we recently drove to Illinois to see a band that we both adore and that instead of getting a hotel room, we drove 90 minutes more to his folks’ house to spend the night before hitting the road again for another leg of the journey to our college class reunion. I love that my used car just turned 75,000 miles. The Tank is not flashy, but she has some cojones under the hood and is one spacious beast of a car.

I try to take Dave Ramsey’s saying to heart – the one where today you live like no one else so eventually you will live like no one else. That I’m taking care of stuff today, so that I don’t have to worry as much about tomorrow. That I stay out of debt so that I can assure a financially solid future for my family. It’s a good mindset to be in, but I’m going to be honest … it’s not really glamorous. And there are some days, like this one, that it’s more of a struggle than others.

4 thoughts on “When things fall apart … an optimistic take on things

  1. @Mrs. Frugalista – thank you so much. I was worried that this one just sounded like a “woe is me” whine fest. I do have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes I just get grumpy. 🙂

  2. I just kept saying, “I hate it when that happens”.

    Taking into account the good things are the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. I, also, love my technology. It permits me midnight chats via computer with my sister in Arizona and daughter in Maryland. My grandson can Skype me. I can live vicariously though House Hunters International.

    Still, our 140,000mile truck gets us to the lake each morning and our clothes line keeps things fresh in the house.
    Picking and choosing. That is what life is about.
    Nice article.

  3. I would add that you may be able to use technology to reduce your monthly expenses now that the internet is increasingly more available to everyone – certainly land telephone lines are not needed if you have cell phones and Skype, or other talk-capable things.

    But the biggest one for us in the past year has been removing ourselves from the “TV grid” – in May we dropped our DirecTV satellite completely (and don’t have cable) in favor of all the free programming available streaming from the internet. I don’t think we’ve had a day that we’ve actually missed those 200+ channels, 95% of which we never watched anyway, and we save about $100/month (we did justify $10 of that to start Netflix, which provides a whole extra wealth of entertainment options for cheap).

    Could we live without internet access? Maybe – but the $40/month we spend on that now covers TV, movies, communication, online schooling, and being able to work at home for my job. Seems like a good deal 🙂

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