Monday, October 15, 2012

How Braveheart Balances Her Checkbook....And Kills Spiders All By Her Onesies.

So apparently Lifetime Products does not consider a spouse being held captive by an arachnid a "personal emergency" and will not allow Brody to come home to kill not one but two spiders for me. How rude. I was faced with the traumatizing decision: either to kill them myself or ruin my productive day of cleaning and errands by barricading myself on the couch while hold a lighter and a can of hairspray awaiting my doom. I did the latter first for about ten minutes and then looked at my disgusting kitchen and chose to be a martyr. I found my flipflop and then began to scream my battle-cry (which is "DIE MUTHAFUCKA!!!" if you wanted to're welcome) and attacked the eight legged spawns of Satan. Spiders:0 Arielle:3 (I gave myself an extra point. Why? Because I can.) By the end of the bloody battle I was sweating and shaking and felt a little like this: 
                                            "It's all for nothing if you don't have freedom."
Shut up. It's my moment. I can feel like Mel Gibson with a mullet if I want to. 
Moving on.....
So since moving in with Brody we have had it pretty easy. But what they don't tell you in love stories and fairy tales is that you have to work at your relationship. It shouldn't have to be like moving boulders up a hill but you should check the pipes for leaks and make sure the light blubs still work every once and a while. If not the whole house falls apart...or you're sitting in the dark with no plumbing....this analogy is going superb. Anyways. So sometimes you have to spice things up and go back to when it was new (Brody and I have been together for 14 months soooo still new but we both annoy the shit out of each other often so we have to make it up for each other). For example: when Brody and I started dated I got him drunk so he would willingly make out with me.....JUST KIDDING! But with the new expenses we have we can't frolic to the nearest Olive Garden every weekend like we used to. And on top of that, we are now combining fiances. Which a lot of partners now can be extremely stressful, especially if you are entering the relationship with existing debt. Coming from a divorced family I have always said "divorce is not an option. It will never be." Now I know sometimes there's no way around a divorce, sometimes for a person's safety and their children's safety, it is the only option. But I will do my damnedest to make my relationship work. So I got in touch with reality and found ways to keep our relationship strong. And if you are with your partner for 14 months or 14 years it can still feel like the first week of your relationship.
I talked to a friend who is a paralegal who works with an attorney who specializes in divorces (what a happy job he must have!). She said about more than half of the cases she's worked on is divorces caused by financial problems. Too much debt. Trust issues with money. Gambling/shopping addictions. It goes on and on and on. And the biggest reason why this is the biggest cause of divorce? The couple never sat down before marriage and said "this is how much I make. This is how much our living situation is. This is how we spend our money. This is how much debt we are in. This is what we are going to do about it." No one brought up a budget. No one set what "living within their means" meant. And sometimes they didn't even know how much their partner was making! Finances have been our biggest hurdle. And this is what we are doing about it.
1.) Get real with your money- Before we moved in Brody would ask me about money and I would say, "I don't know", or "Don't worry about it." and "I'll figure it out." When we moved in together I made it a goal to be open and honest with my money. So I sat down and added up my debt. I gathered all my bills, talked to debt collectors and calculated how big of a hole I was in. I thought "I'm 22 no way it's going to be that bad." I punched all the number into the calculator and it read: $27,000. WHAT?! No no no no no. That has to be wrong. I must have added an extra zero to something. So I did it again. $27,000. Again. $27,000. I got another calculator. $27,000. How in the HELL did I get into $27,000 of DEBT! Well, I bought a car I couldn't afford...maxed out a credit card...dropped out off times....medical bills....late payments...interest rates. It was like I had gained 300 lbs all on my shoulders. How could I do this to myself? How could I do this to Brody? It's not fair to him to be stuck with this. I sat down with him and we put together a plan. He needs to go to school. I will do anything to get him there. If I have to work three jobs to save for $70,000 I will. If I have to kidnap someone against their will to cosign for a loan, I will. Then we need an emergency savings fund. if I lose my job tomorrow or if Brody gets hurt at work or if the roof caves in, in our apartment, we have like $20 to live on. So we save for $1000 and do not use it unless it is for an emergency. A cute pair of heels on sale for one day at Macy's, is not an emergency. We are out of beer and payday is a week away is not an emergency. My boyfriend loses a limb is an emergency. My car's transmission takes a shit is an emergency. Taffy eats something she wasn't supposed to is an emergency. Then we tackle the debt. I get a second job, we start selling shit. Whatever it takes to get that debt out of our lives. We face it head on. We no longer ignore the calls from debt collectors. We don't deny the fact that we have debt. We get real. And we do it fast.
2.) Save money where you can- price match, cut coupons, buy in bulk. compare prices. Yes it can be time consuming but it's better in the long run. We get a free Costco membership through Brody's work and we buy all of our cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items in bulk. But we also shop smart with bulk. Pay attention to the prices. Sometimes it is better to not buy in bulk, especially things like produce (unless you have like 30 kids who like grapes.).
3.) Take care of yourself- Yes, sometimes multivitamins and an exercise DVD can seem expensive, but a trip to the ER or doctors office will be more expensive. Buying healthy food items will benefit you more than buying the cheap unhealthy stuff and ending up on a gurney later....
4.) Talk about money with your partner...but not all the time- For a while there it seemed like all Brody and I talked about was money. How much this bill was worth or how little this paycheck was or how we have to pay this or buy that. It started to seem like I was dating an accountant rather than a Brody. Then I found an interesting concept that I wanted to try. Everyday you choose a time of when you can discuss anything BUT finances. The ideal time is when you both get home from work til an hour after dinner time. The idea is to be open and speak about money but not let it become the biggest part of your relationship. 
5.) Still "date"- my friends grandparents have been together for 57 years. That is almost unheard of these days! She told me that their secret is...they still date! Every Friday night ,since they began dating, is date night. Sometimes it's as lavish as a overnight stay in a different city to something simple as watching a movie at home. Brody and I had a few extra bucks one night so we went out to dinner. Over the appetizer I asked "When was the last time, just you and I went out to dinner? Without parents or friends?" It had been a few months. But honestly, it felt like one of our first dates together. I even found myself getting all giddy walking up to the apartment we shared together! It was nice to have that extra treat we rarely get. The next week money was low but we spontaneously decided to build a fort in our living room. Yeah it was probably immature of us....but then again, we are talking about Brody and me. It's finding the little things that you and your partner can do together that makes the other one feel loved and important.      
Well that enough of the mushy shit for now. I have to go interrogate (I exterminators to get rid of this spider problem (you say "Arielle it was only 2 spiders." I say "That's all it takes.") and I have to actually clean my apartment now. Bleh.