Sunday, February 26, 2017

Two Steps Forward and Then Falling Backwards

Why graph, why!?
Sometimes I don't set goals in my personal life because I am too discouraged. End of 2015 Asay family had a sunny outlook, bravely going into the future. Beginning of 2017 Asay family is still recovering from 2016 (not going to complain about that, read the other blog post). If I'm honest with myself I am going to work very hard to get back to where I was at in 2015. Hopefully the 3 years will average to a flat line. Pretty discouraging stuff!

But the alternative is to not set goals at all and to bob around like a pool floaty hoping not to get sucked up by a pool vacuum. Not everything in life is financial. Our family is fortunate enough to mortgage (someday fully own) a house. The life quality of that has greatly improved. We planted our avocado trees into the ground. One is doing good, the other has about five brown leafs on it and may not make it to summer. That's a bit of a shame since it would produce the most consistently throughout the year. I'll most likely need to replace it during summer.

My kiddo has been a trooper and has already learned that possessions are temporary. Unfortunately, that makes her a bit more clingy than the average child. Our family has grown much closer to each other, but wary of circumstances. My faith in people's kindness has never been stronger. I'm still drawing in the courage to try new and old things.

Moral? Uhhh, check back another time? This post is shouting to the internet about how things are going. This is definitely another season of learning to say "no" a lot and being thankful when a "yes" is possible. For example, we live farther from my job right now so 2 cars would be very ideal. I have been researching a car purchase. I am thinking in the $4-$5k range. I've browsed Craigslist for Versa's, Yaris', Crown Vic's, etc. and the conclusion is, I still have insufficient funds. By the time we have enough $, it will probably be towards the end of the year. So...going to have to wait and say "no" to a lot of other things. But that is life. I'm just trying to be glad to be alive without becoming a worse iteration of myself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Finding Purpose Again

To say 2016 was a bad year for my family unit would be an understatement. It completely took me off course for goals, made me very discontent, and also made me question why I am who I am. Religious people will often use the words "refining" or "making a great testimony". I prefer the concept that it burned up the good and bad in me, and I'm left trying to figure out what is left.

This is also why I haven't posted in a long time. Here I was having a blog saying how nice it is not to feel the need of participating in the rat race while I am losing everything and questioning my sanity. If I was more humble I'd have documented every moment of it, but that isn't the case.

To go back in debt is like going back to an abusive girlfriend. She regularly takes from you every month and doesn't care that you don't like that. I'm sure financial people would yell terrible sentences at hearing we went back into debt, but the choices were limited. How many people lose everything they own, a place to live, and their only car in just a few months, oh and almost die? Something had to give and our emergency fund was only set up for 1 or two of those things to happen at once, not all 4!

Family and coworkers were what made us not slip through the cracks, we could have easily become the family on the street corner living off a gym membership to keep the hygiene and going to a motel when possible. One coworker in particular let me live with him for months until we were back on our feet. I don't know what we would have done without him (remember, we had 0-1 cars during this process).

Theologically, I am having a hard time compartmentalizing why all of this happened. I thought I was doing okay in avoiding greed. I had more time for my family back then and was much less stressed (abusive girlfriend debt! She stressed me out man!). We've also had to deal with the joy of people helping us by donations, and the grief of trying to forget all the items that are gone while we quietly replace them without going into more debt. Also, I've never been one to look at what others have and become angry, but that is another good that was burned up in this process. Why do regular people not go through Job like fire? Sure the 1 arm, 1 leg veteran with 1 kidney and no job is shaking his head at that question from me, but from my vantage point, what underlying cause made our family have to go though this? I'll probably never know and just want to forget it ever happened.

You can only stay in the "poor me" zone for so long before that becomes you. I don't want to become the resident bitcher. You know, the guy who is the opposite of Dilbert's topper who bitches about everything. You talk about how you got a raise, and the bitcher talks about how he hates his job, and debt is a nasty girlfriend.

Who did this to us? That dives into legal stuff, which I can't do on a public space. If you want that kind of information, feel free to talk with me in person.

For the 1 reader out there, thanks for reading this. This is definitely written for you, cause who else is out there? Have a great week.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Churning For...

Hello Dear Reader,

About 2 months ago, I signed up for a Chase Card with a $200 sign up bonus. After spending the required money in regular bills, the question is, what now? I have the money in bonus points on my Chase account. If I was the Jones's, I'd probably use it to pay a down on a couch set, or maybe buy a single fancy rim for my gas guzzling SUV. What should I do though?

I've thought of a couple options:
That would have been nice!

1. Use it for regular budget items. This would go to food, or some essential monthly expense. I wouldn't feel the rush of something shiny, but the $200 it frees up would then need a decision. Maybe I could put it toward an IRA. It isn't a lot of money, but it is something. An added bonus is this could get drawn into our money tree with an unusual pattern signifying it was creatively earned.
2. Buy a freezer. Our chest freeze has been getting full. Maybe I should buy another one and name it Chase.
3. Buy a bike rack. This is the one my wife wants. It would probably cost $150 leaving $50 for something minor like gardening supplies.
Not relevant picture...but it is Lego!!

We almost bought a bike rack at Sports Chalet (first day of sale...not the day of the posting). My wife found the one that a previous salesman said was good. It was $170, and the closing discount is...wait for it...10%!! Wow what a deal! I'm being sarcastic...I told the wife I was unimpressed that a store going out of business couldn't squeeze more discount than 10%, especially since that meant it couldn't be returned to any Sports Chalet store. This brings me to my conclusion. I am so cheap, that even with money basically given to me, I can't bring myself to buy something slightly on sale.

The last option is the wife's sanity fund. We have been married 5 years and she has been wanting a weekend away since our last one was 4 or so months ago. We wouldn't normally need this except for the two year old. This is a good problem to have. I don't have the answer yet. Whatever we decide, I'll need the wife's buy in.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mad Fientist Financial Independance Calculator

For the people looking to someday retire, this calculator may prove useful. You will need to create an account, but wait! Don't get scared. It's a simple email and password! I know the pain of websites wanting non-relevant information. This isn't that. I made a user account and then followed step-by-step instructions. What you do is put your expenses, savings and net worth for a mount and it plots your FI date on a graph. I only have one month right now so it isn't a line but a dot. Here is my picture:
Yes, you read that correctly. At my current rate I have 19 years until financial independence at my current rate, assuming I never get any raises or promotions. That isn't too bad when you think about it. On the left side you can adjust the assumptions for your particular case. Naturally, I have no affiliation with Mad Fientist.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Happily Living Small

Yesterday, we celebrated my child's second birthday. Family and a few friends gathered. We requested that folks spare purchasing the typical giant gifts and, if comfortable/possible, instead contribute to the kiddo's college fund. The purpose behind this is that Emma has a closet and toy chest filled with toys. Also, the living room and dining room have gathered toys as well. This may not be the ideal for every family. Maybe you have a big house, maybe you live large. This is a good fit for my small family unit.
The family came together, got along, enjoy snacks, cupcakes. Before the party, the wife and I were initially worried that our house wouldn't hold all of the invited people. Unfortunately, some people were sick or unable to make it. So, in the end we had enough space.
After the party, cleanup was simple and my wife and I still loved each other at the end of the day. Chuck E. Cheese or outrageous spending hadn't caused the wife and I to fight each other and stress the kiddo. Emma had a blast and loved most
playing with...balloons! Of all things! This truly proves the Baby Blues dead fly theory. Baby Blues is a comic strip about a family and the struggles of raising children. One comic asks the reader to identify which item the baby will enjoy most. It goes from expensive toys to a dead fly. Who won? The dead fly. Before my kiddo grows out of this, I will get her some more balloons :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

So I almost Died

It was a crummy Friday afternoon. The rain was absolutely pouring. This was no condition to bike and I had the chills while on toilet. A headache made my head pound. I absolutely hate it when I cannot focus enough at work to complete tasks, but that is what happened. Feeling bad for my employer, I decided it was time to go home. I called the wife, and she drove me home. I curled up in the bed and attempted to feel better while watching Netflix.
Instead of feeling better, I kept feeling worse. The headache increased making it hurt too much to watch Netflix. Bible study for the wife was canceled (miraculously) so she returned early. After putting the kid to bed, she came by and felt my forehead. My temperature was about 102 and seemed to be rising. It didn't go away after a couple hours. We tried to lower it, but only got it down to around 101.6. I felt such chills that just putting the blanket back on jumped it back over 102. My awesome wife arranged to have the kid watched for the night.
While waiting for them to arrive on the bed, something strange happened. My body began to communicate to me that it wasn't going to make it. Maybe to the hospital, but probably not the next day. I texted a few friends (don't feel hurt if you weren't texted...I only could focus enough for a few texts). I began to pray that God wouldn't take me yet. Not for me. I knew I'd go to heaven with the smallest pat on the back upon arrival. But for the wife and kid. Financially, it would be very difficult, but especially emotionally too.
While my wife was giving the family watching the kid instructions, it's hard to explain but my body continued to tell me I wasn't going to make it. It was telling me that my time was coming. I was telling it and God to give me more time. On the way I was feeling more and more nauseous. I began my patented pre-vomit cough, still fighting it. Right before our destination, the wife stepped on the gas to the emergency drop off section. I opened the door and let my load out. I felt a bit better, but was unable to sign anything like my signature.
The hospital took us in pretty quickly and made us repeat the symptoms various times. I vomited again while being seen by the doctor. My sister-in-law was also there providing emotional support and keeping the wife strong. The wife had picked up that I thought I was going to die. Initially, my doctor thought I had Meningitis. They were pumping me with fluid and generic antibiotics, but he was convinced checking for Meningitis was crucial. I was nervous especially when they had me sign a sheet with the side effects listed. The worst headache in the world, paralysis, and other terrible things I don't remember. My doctor was great, but it was very scary.
I got the shot. It was the worst experience related to my back. I felt a needle go between my vertebrae. I would not recommend. They also make you curl up into the fetal position for the procedure. After this, they told me I would have to wait 72 hours, but it'd be great if I could pee for them. I had consumed two liters of liquids, and had a small amount of very urine that I was able to conjure up.
I stayed at the hospital for a couple days after admission. The summary was that my lactic acid level had trouble going down with low blood pressure and I was experiencing sepsis shock due to my organs trying to shut down. That explains why it felt like I was dying...because my brain was telling me I was. In the end, they tested many things and it turned out to be a virus. I received 8 pricks in total. When I was contemplating my mortality, money and work did not even register. Family was what I thought about, and if they would be okay. Also, I realized that like a small fire on a candle, life can be snuffed out in an instant.
Getting out of the hospital was another battle. The kid had, and would continue to rotate the grandparents and in-laws. My doctor prescribed me off of work for 4 days, instructing me to be very nice to my back.
Unfortunately, my wife also came down with this virus. Thankfully, we knew how to treat it and had her drink 32oz of water an hour for the first 8 hours or so. It was hard for her, but we managed to keep her out of the hospital. Family and friends really came together making us easy to prepare dinners. They were a lifesaver, and helped immensely. I'm convinced that it was God watching over me through the prayers of friends and family that kept me from dying. The hospital staff stated my chance of survival would have been much lower if I had waited any longer to come in, especially if I had tried to go to sleep. They believed I would have died if I slept a normal amount instead of coming in. Before coming to the hospital, I was drinking a regular amount of water and not sweating or peeing. Not sure where the water went, but it was gone.
When people ask me now what happened, I lazily want to skimp on details and downplay it like it was no big deal. Really though, it was a big deal, so that is why I've taken a break from bashing materialism and written a post about what happened.
Thanks for everyone who helped me survive and recover. It was powerful to watch people come together for a common purpose and loving on us. My dad did a group text with local pastors who prayed. Although life is a struggle and toil, I'm very thankful for this extension on life, and protection for the family. People brought tasty casseroles, pizza, homemade mac and cheese, soup, bread, candy bars and more. My dad visited me and we had a good talk about life and family. One of my friends narrowly missed me going into the hospital, but was there for me in text. At work, people who weren't initially contacted, offered to bring their own soups and other foods. So much love. Thanks everyone who helped us get through this difficult time (yes, there are more people than mentioned in this post!).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hobby? I Have a Hobby?

I go through hobbies like actors go through actresses. This one takes too long, this one is done by a person I don't like, this one is too expensive, and so on. It really is like watching a bachelor TV show where beautiful actresses get cycled through like tissue paper.

One of the blessings of almost dying, is that I got to bond with my child and wife. I found that I have more in common with my parents than I thought. It's time for a rambling story.

When I was a wee lad, my mom loved getting taken to the nursery by dad. They would spend hours there. Nursery's and Home Depot basically have nowhere to sit. My awkward kid feet got so sore, It was literally my least favorite thing to do. The only thing I hoped for was that we would get to eat something tasty out because they didn't want to cook after shopping.

Now, the tables have turned. My child must endure the endless trips to Home Depot for more dirt and plants. Lucky for her, the wife and I have banned ourselves from Home Depot.

Coming back to having a hobby, the wife and I have finally found a productive thing we enjoy doing together. We have a hobby that I don't feel like is a waste of time or money. Not everything homegrown is the cheapest, but it is fun and makes good memories. What more could I ask from a hobby?