Aug 6, 2008

Moving on Down, and Saving My Pennies

My rent has gone from $1050 a month to about $650 a month. This move, which is saving me a good $400+ a month, is probably the best decision I've made in my life. Even though my gas $ will be going up, I still think I'm going to end up saving at least $300 a month, and that doesn't even include the additional $250 that I would have had to pay if I stayed at my apartment and accepted the ridiculous rent increase.

It's kind of weird making these smart financial decisions now. I always relied on my dad to make those in the past. I didn't go totally overboard on my living situation previously, but given how much I was making, I definitely should have gotten roommates. Now, I'm making enough to live alone, barely, but I've realized that just because you make enough money to spend it, doesn't mean you actually should.

Instead, I'm going to really focus on saving money now. I'm pretty sure I want to go back to grad school at some point, prob for a degree in Human Computer Interaction (Berkeley has an awesome program) and I'm starting to take programming classes at the local community college (which happens to be a few minute walk from my new apartment) to make sure that's the right path for me - but I'm pretty sure it is. I need to learn the programming side and the research side, and then I'm ready to become a key player in web 3.0...

In the meantime, I'm dealing with some other things. Speaking of my father and his wisdom, it won't be around for much longer. He was recently diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer. I knew he probably had cancer, but wasn't really prepared to hear this. Basically that means he has a few years to live, at best. Well, what this means, besides all the emotional havoc it's having on me and my family, is that all that money I'm saving on not renting the more expensive place might be spent on plane tickets. It costs about $400 to fly across the country these days. Ugh.

And it really is going to be time for me to step in and help my parents with sorting out finances for the future. My mom is such a duntz when it comes to that sort of stuff - I get my bad spending habits from her. My dad's mostly a saver, and I'd like to be more like him. It makes me nervous to think that I'm going to have to take over for him, at some point.

Meanwhile, just the thought of losing him is really hard to deal with. We're not really that close, and for most of my life I hated the guy, but he's done a lot for me and my family outside of the mental and physical abuse, including working hard for most of his life and making sure we had enough money to live very comfortably. It's tough to know that he's worked so hard for most of his years - he just retired like a year or two ago - even though he is only in his late 50s - and now he's looking at the end. He won't get to enjoy retirement or that huge 401k he's accumulated. Or he likely won't... besides facing the fact that the cancer treatment will stop working in 1-10 years, he also is dealing with so many other medical issues. He can't even enjoy his last few years on this earth, because all he does is sleep all day. I can't tell how much is because he's weak and how much is just depression. Regardless, it makes me sad to think of the life he's led, working so hard, married to a woman he doesn't love, saving up for retirement... and then, he gets to retirement, and he's sick, and he's dying...

It makes you think twice about the value of saving so much for so long. Not that I won't be putting money away for retirement or focusing on getting and staying healthy so I can live to enjoy it, but... some people don't make it that far. And our entire society is set up to work and work and save and save... but then what? What if that's all you get?



5 comments:

sfordinarygirl said...

I'm sorry to hear your dad has advanced prostate cancer. I've been conflicted lately about saving and spending on myself because in the end, what do you do if you can't live to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

I think that's why we have to strive for balance. If we work ourselves to death, what's the point in that? One person said they don't need a vacation. They said "vacation from what? work?" If we all were less harried and less overconsuming, we wouldn't feel so strapped by the need to save.

sfordinarygirl said...

what about airline credit cards such as southwest? there's a promotion right now by joining their newsletter you get 4 credits ... i think you need 8 for a free roundtrip and the credit card promos put you right over.

feministfinance said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear about your dad.

Scribbles said...

Hun,
I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. My mum has just been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and we don't know yet what her prognosis will be (whether it's metastisised further than her lymph nodes)... it just feels so unfair, doesn't it? Our parents finally get their lives back after years of being our responsible parents and adults and this happens. My prayers are with your dad, I hope that he can have as fulfilling a life as possible with the time he has left. And ghastly as this sounds on a finance blog, don't worry about the money. Try and save where you can, but the important thing is that you are there with your dad in the time you have left.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your dad. I lost my dad in March; not a day goes by that I don't miss him.

Don't think twice about the money you spend on plane tickets to see your dad as his life winds down. It is so very worth it.

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