Sometimes I forget how far we’ve come in the past eight years.
On Wednesday, a friend told us that another friend, Mike, had found out that another friend has finally found steady work. He is, Ian said, “raking it in” at $15/hour. Ian’s roommate actually said “Whoa!” Whereas I embarrassed to realize that I had wrinkled my nose at the hourly rate.
Back when I started this blog, we received about $3,000 a month in disability, unemployment and a small side gig I had. Rent was $700, and Tim’s high-risk insurance was $500. Meanwhile, we were also paying down student loans, not to mention the credit card debt from health related issues. Just getting his teeth out and dentures in was around $14,000
Back then, we’d have been thrilled to work for $15 an hour. Actually, I was thrilled to get $15 an hour when I started my current job. Then the World’s Best Boss skewed my outlook with generous raises and a yearly bonus. (Not that I’m complaining. I’ve never felt the need to tell him he pays me too much.)
And so I find myself at a point where, however briefly, I look down my nose at something I once dreamed of.
To be fair, anything about income is now filtered through our current situation: mortgage, high utility bills, retirement accounts and long-term projects like dental implants and double paned windows. For something like that, $15 is stretching things. Well, depending on your situation I suppose.
Still, there are times that I worry I’m turning into one of “those” people. The ones with a two-income household and massive debt brought on more by frivolity and inattention than by actual bad luck. The ones who sometimes wrote stuff like (and this is a real suggestion, if not the exact wording) “Sell your toys: I went through and sold stuff I wasn’t really using. I was surprised how much I got for my Ski-Doo.”
And so I started this blog. For people who had already made most of the obvious cuts — or never had those things to cut out in the first place. People who were struggling because of situation — health condition, job market, etc — more than bad habits. People who might have health problems or living situations that kept them from practicing some frugal things that would be considered gospel to “regular” people. In short, people who were already doing (most) everything right, but still couldn’t make much of a dent.
Of course, I had other readers too. But I started this blog for people like me, people who were under-served by regular personal finance blogs. And I found many people whose unique situations limited their ability to practice pure frugality.
Lo these many years later, things are very different. And I have noticed that I’ve stopped hearing from certain readers. It could be that they just stopped doing the blog scene. Or, as my paranoid brain insists, maybe they left because I’m not the same person who started this blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that most of my readers — past and present — are cheering for me. But there’s still a part of me that cringes in anticipation of imagined criticisms. I worry that some of the old readers feel like I’m too out of touch with their situations; that my talking about coping with restrictions is just rationalization; that I write enough about actual frugality anymore.
So moments like the one on Wednesday freak me out.
I know that 99.99% of you (or more) are awesomely supportive. In fact, your suggestions have helped me out in quite a few situations. And I’ve accepted that this blog has become less about advice and more about my evolving story. In fact, about three years ago I bought the domain PerfectingImperfection.com, and for three years I’ve seriously considered switching over, thereby accepting that personal finance is only a fraction of my focus these days.
But I’m still on this site, still getting hits. Which just shows that most of you are okay with the change in focus. That you care more about following my journey than you do about hearing “10 tips to save money on X.” And the fact that anyone, let alone so many of you, tune in to hear the latest installment of the weird ride I call life… Well, it continues to humble and amaze me. Anyone less riddled with self-doubt could get quite an ego over such a thing.
So I guess I’m not completely out of touch just yet.
How have your lives changed over the past five and a half years? By the way, can any of you believe that I’ve been spitting out this randomness for over five and a half years?