November 10, 1999

Money, Money, Money

Despite the fact that we were both late to work today, it was a remarkably productive day.

There are a whole slew of sites that need to be re-designed and migrated to Domino in the next month or so and we finally got those divided up. Now all I have to do is go through them and get acquainted with the content and the code in order to devise ways to make the migration successful and efficient.

Efficiency has become something of a watch-word for me in terms of design. More and more I find myself in the minimalist camp, designing to the lowest common denominator, without sacrificing too much in terms of style.

Now if only I could be more efficient in other areas of my life.

Sabs came up for lunch and we got sandwiches and Chinese at the cafe, then sat on the lawn and talked about money and how to live better so that we spend less.

Money is a perennial problem for us. Neither one of us seems to be particularly good at managing our finances, keeping the checkbook up to date, making sure everything is paid, in short, we excel at spending money and we're terrible at saving it.

My particular vice is books, more specifically, amazon.com. I also have a bad habit of dropping too much cash at Land's End because they're one of the few companies that makes comfortable, nice-looking clothing in plus sizes. Sabs' vices are games, computer equipment and long-distance phone calls to his friend Sean in California.

So I drew up a list of our income and expenses today and we hammered out a plan for cutting costs. Mostly it involves trying to bring in sandwiches from home so that we spend less on lunch, and waste less food at home. Another bad habit we have, is buying too much food at the store. We try to shop for 1-2 week periods instead of doing several small stops, hence by the end of the 2 weeks, we've generally lost a bunch of things, especially wilted lettuce and dried out mushrooms.

Our expenses break out roughly like this:

Rent and food are about $1000/month
Internet access $360/month (includes co-location fees for the server)
Phone services (cell, long distance, local plus average talk time) $219 (last 3months)
Other random expenses $400/month (including lunch money and so on)
Debt payments $1500/month

Adds up to between $3000 and $4000 a month. Now, we actually make a fair bit of money, but it's just enough to cover all that and leave a very little bit left over and sometimes, nothing at all.

Of course, the obvious problem should leap right out at the average reader: the debt.

Without that damn debt, we'd be in darn good shape and putting away a good chunk of money every month.

But as it is, even though we're both gainfully employed at well-paying jobs, we're scrambling for money every month.

So to pay off that damn debt more quickly, we have to cut corners elsewhere.

I truly wish that we could pay less rent, but that's easier said than done in the area where we live, especially with five cats.

At any rate, there are lots of areas where we can cut last, concessions to be made by both parties.

This was one of the most constructive conversations that we've had about money in a long time. It was all laid out in black and white on the page, and we're both sick and tired of always scrambling to pay the bills and still have a little left over to do things with.

We're at the point though, that if we could just live on one of our incomes, we could use the other to kill that debt dead, dead, dead.

It's time to rearrange our priorities and get this mess straightened out, to put an end to the scramble.

Can we do it?

I don't know, but if either of us wants to go last to school, it's just going to have to happen.

There's no reason for us to be so irresponsible with money, none at all.

At the same time, I hate the way having or not having money has such a big impact on life.

I mean, why is it that little piece of printed paper and stamped coins are what make the world go round?

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