Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Financial Escape Plan

As I've said before, I really do love my job. Despite that, though, I have days when it's hard, when it feels like it's just too much, when it's emotionally draining and exhausting and just takes so much out of me. There are things I would like to do, creative things and fun things and domestic things, that at the end of the day I just don't feel capable of doing.

These are the days when I start plotting my escape.

I know that at this point in my life it makes no sense to quit my job. I'm in a lot of debt, my husband is still in school, and honestly if I quit my job I would have very little to make me feel fulfilled. But sometimes it's nice to fantasize about all the things that I could do if I didn't work full time.

So on those evenings I devise a financial escape plan. I sit down with a notepad, a calculator, or sometimes a spreadsheet, and I figure out exactly how much money I would need to survive for one month. I figure out ways I could generate extra income, through part time work and ventures, and I try to make those things as close as possible. Then I figure out how much more money I would need to spend a few blissful jobless months and how long it would take me to save up that much money.

What do I take away from these exercises? Well, besides a strange nerdy kind of satisfaction and sense of calm, I do develop a greater understanding of some truths about my financial situation. For one, I will never come close to financial freedom until I can knock out all the debt, so that is a serious priority. Also, when I can see a goal, like 2 months with nothing to do but bake banana bread, do yoga, and sleep late, my idea of how much money I can cut on entertainment changes significantly. And finally, that the better job I can do at generating alternate income, the easier it will be for me to eventually switch to part time work.

Of course this is a long way off, but for now, a girl can dream.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fun and inexpensive christmas gifts

In my quest for a frugal Christmas, I thought I'd share some inexpensive Christmas gifts that I've given over the years.

A home manual

When one of my college roommates moved into her first apartment, I put together an instruction manual for her on how to live on her own. It was basically a binder in which I put favorite recipes, cleaning checklists, shopping lists, money saving tips, and other assorted tips that I'd written. I decorated the front, and I taped a Bed, Bath and Beyond giftcard to the inside of the back cover. If I were doing this again, I might also include a coupon envelope and some other assorted knickknacks to help her get started. It was a very inexpensive Christmas gift for me because the only thing that cost was the giftcard, and I think I got that from a rewards program. It was really useful for her, though, and I think she still uses and adds to it herself.

A stress relief bag

A few Christmas ago, I put together a "stress relief" bag for my best friend for Christmas. It contained two boxes of herbal tea (from the grocey store, purchased for next to nothing), 50 cent marble notebooks in 3 different colors, a coloring book (from the clearance table at Borders) and 8 pack box of crayons, a small bottle of bubble bath and various little toys and balls. Most of the things in this bag, besides being useful, were appreciated because they had meaning for the two of us rather than because of how much they cost.

A love journal

The year my husband and I were engaged, I gave him a journal in which I'd written to him every day for several months. I had also glued in things like the stubs from movies we'd seen and pictures of what we'd done. He still keeps it next to his bed.

Pleas share any ideas you may have for inexpensive Christmas gifts which are also extremely meaningful.