Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Uncomfortable Consumer

<<<<< Volume 1. Vol. 2.>>>>> 1. The Weirdness Within, 2. The Uncomfortable Consumer, 
3. Technology, Me and Programs, 4. When will we ever learn?, 5. Sex, drugs and smoking,
6. Suppression Equals Depression, 7. Practicing Awareness, 8. Long Distance Friendships During War, 9.  Away we go, 10. Children and Pit Bulls at Christmas, 11. The other side of the story...I & II, 12. The things that divide us, 13. Getting a plan together and a Garden, Click the links within the post to see the relevant stories, pictures or videos and thanks for stopping by!

The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor  (another must read article:) Warning Strong Language!) 
You know when you are young and broke almost everything looks cool or seems like you just can't live without it.  Never mind that most commercials make you think that is the case but if you have never had the money to try out some of the products, then you have no clue how useless some of them really are.  When I was young I would have to sift through a huge Sears catalog to find toys for Christmas and now kids are bombarded with ads from the moment they wake up practically.  I guess that parents today have to tell their kids no many more times than our parents told us just because of the sheer volume of crap available.  I don't envy the new parents of today because their jobs are so much harder in this respect.  I knew when I was young that if I wanted something then I had to save up for it, whether it be birthday money or lunch money or I probably wasn't going to get it.  After I got out of the teens and moms house, priorities changed of course and as many times as I moved around, it became a blessing to not have too much stuff to have to manage.  Again I wasn't a girly girl who spent tons of money or time on clothes or accessories but I did have a thing for storage stuff like leather cases or carryalls and shoes!  In fact I didn't do any real clothes shopping until about 07 or so and by that time I still hated malls so shopping would only happen if I really needed something to wear.

Way back when we rented our first house and Trey was born things were different because I really wanted a comfortable house and that takes money even if you are shopping garage sales and flea markets.  And babies require so much stuff for one tiny little body it really was like having to move every time we took him out!  So at that time it took a while to get used to having and toting stuff on a regular basis but we eventually got it under control and he grew out of much of it so quickly too.  But personally I still wasn't all that attached to stuff and would walk away from it if it were being used as a lure or leverage for something else.  I learned that if I couldn't get it for myself then I just wasn't going to have it and that way of thinking probably saved me a whole lot of aggravation down the road.  To me stuff was replaceable even if it took a long time to do it, where as my time or happiness was just more important to me.  The only time I really fought with anybody about stuff was when they were caught red handed stealing it from me and even then there were so many other problems going on it would've had to been something really important.  I have also never been a good haggler, and prefer to shop quietly and if the price is too high, I will move right on with no problem.  Window shopping always seemed like a really big waste of time because I don't want to look at a bunch of stuff I can not buy just for fun. 

I liked to spend money on experiences like traveling and concerts so don't think I was content with just a little.  Over time I also started collecting lots of books and smiley face stuff a little at a time.  So when I'd go anywhere I'd buy Trey a t shirt and maybe a smiley collectable for a few dollars if I had the time and the money.  And then later I started to collect Coca Cola tins and trinkets.  It adds up over time.  But somehow I managed to save $5000 to put down on a $75,000. house and then the shopping began in earnest.  Now when I bought my house I did research on as much as possible and spent a lot of time getting my credit in shape so I could finance it with no cosigners.  I knew that just starting out would be hard because they required 2 separate loans, one piggy backing the other, both with rather high interest rates but after a year I could refinance to a much better loan.  I found a lender who would help me or so I thought and just 3 days before closing on my very first place they changed the agreement and now wanted me to pay an extra half a point interest on both loans.  I did what few people do and told them to shove it and I would find another company that would make the original terms.  The girls that were helping me with the closing were not ready for that action but I pulled it off and found a lender that would agree to my terms.  Yes, working in the real estate attorney's office helped a bunch but I did start saving because I knew the best time to buy a house was while working there... duh.  The only glitch came when they couldn't find the survey needed to complete the loan docs and for a few hours it was hairy indeed.  I already was hanging at the end of my rope without a place to live at that time and knew I'd waste money on a pay by the week hotel if it didn't go through.

When I moved into this large place I had a twin bed and night stand for the bedroom, a loveseat and small entertainment center that I put together in the living room and a few things to cook with, other than my clothes.  And I finally got my first computer in 98 although I wasn't home very much to use it.  1500 square feet looks like a palace when there is nothing inside and that first year was tough.  But then I refinanced into a 15 year fixed rate mortgage because I did the math and it came to making a $100 extra a month payment verses 15 years at the regular amount.  It seemed like a no brainer to me and once that was completed I was free to actually start working on the home itself.  But a few months later I bought the Honda too and since it was financed with the same bank I had the new mortgage, I transferred my accounts there and saved a bundle too.  I didn't really like the bank all that much but they had taken over everything and at that time I felt if you can't beat them... join them.  Bad mistake all around in the end but for a while things were just fine.  If you've ever owned a home you know you rarely get to update the things you want to but the ones that you have to.  I think the first thing that went out was the hot water heater around Thanksgiving and that started a tradition of things that go out around that time of year.  So it began the replacing of the washer, dryer, dishwasher, fridge, a/c, front doors, back doors which were leaking cold air like a cooler at the market.   

As I said before I started watching HGTV for many ideas on what to do with the house and I would sketch out many different rooms with a particular affinity for organization and energy conservation.  I spent much time in Home Depot, Lowes, furniture stores and places like BB+B.  Meanwhile roommates and exes where leaving piles of junk at my house over the years and what I couldn't get rid of I had to find a place to put it.  I saw the previews to the show Hoarders and thought, WOW!  I lived with one but I was as busy chucking stuff out the back door as he was bring it in the front door.  My mom taught me well on that subject.  And dear people who are not inclined or able to fix things... please stop sidewalk shopping and bringing home stuff you can't do anything with!  Unless you have a huge warehouse that you own and then it's perfectly fine... but until then... stop.  During that time I also tried a few different products advertized on TV as must haves and was sorely disappointed at the uselessness of most of those items and so they too went to the Good Will.  It didn't take long for me to figure out that it was a waste of money and time but it also showed me how much companies are really just out to make a buck and not anything useful that can be used for many years to come.  I probably went a little over board at Christmas too with the people I loved because I wanted them to have the things they really wanted and now that I finally had the money to do it... I did!

Now shopping for everyday supplies was different because I don't like doing it and so when I go I literally stock up for the month and pack mule it.  I spent hours clipping coupons and shopping deals whenever possible but found that the things I use the most rarely go on sale so after a while I stopped wasting time on that too.  If I stumbled over deals fine but I didn't go out of my way any longer because by then I had so little time.  And when Trey would come over for the weekend, he would eat a week or twos worth of groceries in just 2 days so I would really have to stock up on things!  Which brings me back to the smiley face stuff I had been collecting now for many years.  One day while deep cleaning the office which doubled as a bedroom for him I pulled out all the stuff packed in boxes and decided to go ahead and put it all out to see what I had.  After several hours of rearranging it and spreading everything out, it covered most of the room.  I figured I was getting a little old for it and wanted to enjoy it while I could before finding another home for my smileys.  When Trey came over he was older then and he told me that he felt like there were too many eyes looking in on him. :)  I left it up until it was time to dust again and then all that stuff had to come down.

In my mind I had remodeled the whole house several times over and knew that I'd have to start with the top floor bathroom because we used it the most and it is usually better when taking on big jobs like that to start at the top and work your way down in multilevel homes.  I spent weeks shopping and measuring for the materials for it and was frustrated at how difficult it was to find the things I really needed.  But I made sure that I had everything that was needed before I found the electrical and plumbing guys so they would know exactly what needed to be done.  No they were not happy that I applied for a permit but I knew that if I wanted things done a certain way it was necessary to have back up when dealing with the contractors.  My ex Marvelous was helping with the job and over time I really had to micro manage him because he couldn't be trusted to do the job much less right if left alone but we alas started by demoing the whole thing.  As we did we of course found a multitude of problems and I am really glad I didn't wait any longer to start the job.  And once the old has been torn out you are then committed until the very end.  Now I did spend a few dollars on extras that made it super functional and then one day in one of the warehouse clubs we saw a beautiful couch, love seat and chair for $1000 and I had to have it too.  That started the might as wells and so we got the stuff to paint the living room and trim too.  

It took a long 10 months and despite all the problems with me and my ex I was really looking forward to being done and enjoying the fruits of our labors.  I am sure our neighbors were too.  We were almost in the home stretch and the electrical inspector was checking out the last thing before he left and we were already on the line because some things were just not to his liking.  At the same time the plumbers were still there and you could have called them twiddle dee and twiddle dumb but that day it was really bad because they pulled a plug on a drain somewhere upstairs that caused a light fixture downstairs to FILL up with water.  The inspector flashed his light on the fixture and said well that's gonna make you fail.  All I could say was... yeah I got that.  But I had also made a mistake in listening to the plumber that a certain $4 shut off valve would work in the dual shower heads and it cost $1000 to repair that mistake.  I had to order a special quattro valve and then have them redo the center tiles to put it in.  Another big ticket item that had nothing to do with the bathroom was a attic access door with stairs that was needed to get to the electrical work over the bathroom.  It was sturdy but it was also $1000 too and I had the plumbers install the pipes for a small combo unit washer and dryer that I planned to add later.  So for both the living room and bathroom I spent about $12,000. total but I felt I got my monies worth.  It was small but I used every square inch of space and even had outlets in the cabinets for all those little gadgets.  I learned a lot but the whole thing was sort of spoiled by the upcoming events and in the end you can't take it with you.


For more info on the details of the bathroom space saving measures you can check out my for the home board on Pinterest... I do miss my house and my bathroom most especially because I had spent so much time waiting for it and then once it was completed things really did go downhill from there.  The next big project would have been the kitchen and then the master bath, closet and room would have been last.  When I said I really did want a comfortable home I meant it and was willing to work hard for it.  But it was my first place and what I like to refer to as my practice house because I learned so many things in design while applying it when ever I could.  Most of you know I've scaled down considerably since I've left there and am back to traveling lighter.  I still have the pictures I took for insurance purposes of the evolution of stuff that accumulated over the years and in doing the jobs, hobbies and just life.  Even as conscientious as I was I still got sucked into the material world because make no mistake to be comfortable in this world, it takes money, time and a lot of effort.       

3.  Technology, Me and Programs >>>>>