Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Saving for a Trip Abroad

This is part of a series responding to Christine at Almost Fearless' series 30 Ways in 30 Days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. 

The way we think of saving is misleading.  It’s like losing weight, you don’t just lose weight, you eat less or exercise more, but there is no specific action called losing weight.  It’s an expression that describes the end result, not the process.  For saving it’s the same way, it’s not what you do as much as what you don’t do.  Saving is actually inaction, we’re stopping ourselves from spending.
Losing weight is not something I'm very good at. Saving money? I'm better at that. I'm not going to claim that I am an expert, but I have much more success at saving money than I do at losing weight.

This is because saving money is a twice a month proposition, as opposed to an every day decision like losing weight. I transfer money into my savings account the day I get my paycheck. I basically give myself a paycut. I have a separate bank for my savings, so that it takes more than a few clicks to spend it, a tactic that is called using passive barriers. In addition, windfalls are either used to pay off high interest debt or pad my savings account.

I still need to increase what I earn, which is something I need to tackle after I get back from vacation this summer. Asking for a raise a few weeks before leaving for two weeks seems a bit crass.

Unfortunately I have not been as successful in coming up with a reliable weight loss psych out. After work, the daily decision of whether or not I will go to the gym or to the barn is a tough one, and to be honest the barn usually wins out if I do anything other than be a slug on the couch, and I have yet to make both in a single day now that I have to stack them back to back thanks to the time change. This has not improved the tone of my thighs.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Feeling left behind

I'm considering splitting this blog and maybe starting a horse training only one. Because my interests are kind of schizophrenic and I doubt that someone who is interested in reading about horse training is also interested in moving abroad.

One of my best friends (K) got engaged this weekend, and my other best friend's (R) younger brother also got engaged. These two girls are probably my closest friends. I have known both of these girls since I was in middle school, and R's younger brother was always around, though he and I are not particularly close compared to some of my other childhood friend's siblings. R got married a little over a year ago, and she's currently expecting. A mutual friend (B) just got married last weekend and is also pregnant. Another close friend of mine is currently freaking out about attending her 10 year reunion in the summer. She graduated from high school a year before I did.

I am not interested in being engaged at the moment, I do not want children, and yet I still feel kind of like a failure.

I really expected to be out of South Carolina by now. I have good reason to stay - my long term boyfriend (who really needs an initial here - I dub thee C) is in school to get his BA, which is a requirement for work visas in Japan. He has instate tuition here, and with how ridiculously expensive college has become in the US during the last ten years or so, spending more than absolutely necessary for a undergraduate degree seems shortsighted especially in light of my too large law school loan debt. Going to Japan without C being able to work would be financially disastrous, so we pretty much have to wait for him to graduate. His school is not being particularly helpful in giving me a timeline, though, since they can't guarantee him a spot in required classes during any given semester.

I am very anxious to leave. I think I have stayed here almost two years too long as it is. If I had a definite exit date I would probably be much happier, but as it is we are unlikely to know for sure until the fall.

Which brings me back to feeling like I'm treading water. My goals are very different than those of my friends, but the fact of the matter is they seem to be achieving their life goals while I am waiting to make mine happen. Well, I'm actually working toward it, but it feels like I am not making any progress. The problem is that I am not sure how much progress I will have made a year from now. I don't know if I will have an exit date, because so much is not up to me. I am a certified control freak, so this is tough.

So, to make myself feel like less of an abject failure, here are the things I have achieved that will help me get to Japan:

  • I am closing on a refinance this week that will allow me to cover all condo expenses with the rental income when I leave. That's everything including HOA fees (which I thought I would have to pay out of pocket).
  • I have paid off all but one of my credit cards.
  • My savings account has hit 20% of what I need to go to Japan.

And to torture myself further and poke the scab like I always do, here are the things I still need to do:

  • Save the other 80% of what I need to go to Japan.
  • Wait for C to graduate.
  • Pay off that last credit card.
  • Lose 35 pounds. (Ok, so this probably isn't a requirement to get to Japan, but it is something I have been working hard on lately.)

OCD? What's that?