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Catching Up

November 17th, 2013 at 06:23 am

I've been having a problem with anxiety and excessive worrying about things, mostly financial and job-related. It's hard for me to let go of worrisome thoughts.

It's an unfortunate side effect of underemployment since my 2009 layoff.

I should be feeling better now, since I started a 10-month full-time job 5 weeks ago. It got me thinking about how differently I feel now compared to how I felt this time 3 years ago.

Three years ago was when I had landed a 3-month contract job with a large financial services firm. They were paying me $50/hour,and although it was a contract job to end 12/31/10, there was also a chance it would go perm. (I think most agencies just say that as further incentive.) Because I'd gotten good feedback from my managers there, and because they let go the other two contract writers hired the same day I was, I figured I was going to get a perm offer. That didn't happen, but before knowing that I did go a little crazy in the spending department. I spent quite a bit on clothes and shoes and I do recall making take-out a regular thing on Friday nights, and a few other purchases I didn't really need. But I felt good about my work situation!

Fast forward to today. What can I say, I'm still feeling anxious about my long-term future, and wonder if I'll be resigned to short-term contract jobs and an extremely unstable financial lifestyle for the rest of my working years which, if I have my way, will be just 6 more years.

My issue with the near daily headaches is now something I think was also stress-related. It started way back in July. I was in the middle of one of my contract jobs that I found fairly stressful due to a work environment where I got no feedback on how I was doing and people left me to my own devices. I felt isolated and lonely there. I also didn't have enough work to do to keep me busy and I worried that I'd be let go early, and that, in fact, is what happened.

That job ended in August and then in September I started another contract job, this one for 2 weeks. Although it was a much friendlier environment (i knew the woman who hired me from a prior job) the headaches continued there, I think because it was yet another new job, new people and I felt I had to "prove my worth" all over again.

The headaches began easing up in October, but I was still having headaches probably half the time. November has been much better; in fact, i haven't had a headache since Monday, which is a big improvement. I may even cancel my neurologist appt next week.

Interestingly, I ran the numbers and realized with surprise that although I was making $50/hr in 2010, my total gross from that job, where I felt much more confident, was $26,000, whereas today I'm making $35/hr but for 10 months, so the gross this time around will come out to $60,660. Quite a bit more than in 2010 so I wish I could breathe more easily.

In 2010 I didn't realize how long and slow this economic recovery (and my own) would be; now, after long stretches of nothing but unemployment and my freelance work, with the occasional contract job, I'm much more cautious about my immediate outlook.

So I am being extremely careful about spending, or at least, HOW I'm spending. Unlike my 2010 spending spree, I've done very little spending this time around and can actually recite from memory the few "splurges" I've made. This includes 2 Friday afternoon lunches with others from the job at $7.50 each time for a yummy portabello/pesto panini. I consider this necessary, not just for my own sanity but also to cultivate/maintain friendships at work, something I used to think was optional but which I've now concluded is vital. In my usual independent way, I used to think that as long as I did my job that I could take care of myself. But I've learned that as a newcomer, I really rely on others for information related to how things work in the new company, etc.

I did also "splurge" for a $1 diet coke from the vending machine at work one day.

The only other non-essential spending I've done is $75 for 3 pieces of clothing at Kohl's and much more money on needed upgrades/maintenance/repairs on my home, which again, I consider essential so I can sell this place.

At least I've started the ball rolling in that regard. Carpenter still has to come back to do 2nd coat on compounding a closet wall, and fixing a shelf he installed in another closet where the screws came THROUGH the wall out into my hallway! I was furious about this since I TOLD him about a prior carpenter who did the same damn thing when he put paneling in the same closet. Now the hallway wall will have to be repainted. (Well, it probably would have to be repainted anyway, but still....)

The carpenter did replace a side garage door that was wood and had rotted out in the bottom. The new door is metal sheathing on both sides but pressed wood or something inside. The door came primed, but not painted, so I am taking advantage of a high oif 60 degrees today to paint the door, and I made the carpenter apply silicone to both the top and bottom ends of the door, something he initially told me I could do by removing the door from its hinges, etc. Umm, I can't do that! For crying out loud! That's why I hired you! He also replaced all the trim around the door, and did a good job at that. Some of the trim was rotted at bottom and just looked old and worn out. He also redid the concrete threshold, not by rebuilding it with footers as I wanted, but anyway i guess it looks okay. You really have to be ultra-specific with a contractor or they'll take shortcuts. Like, I want a metal door that's SOLID metal through and through, not this pressed wood crap.

I also bought a new floor register to replace an old wrought iron one that had been painted over numerous times and looked bad. It looks great so I decided to order 4 more for other rooms in the house, although I found by measuring that not all the cut-outs in my wood floors are a standard 8 x 12 or 9 x 12 so there is one, I think, where I can't replace the register. But just a small thing like that really helps to update the appearance here.

13 Responses to “Catching Up”

  1. snafu Says:

    If the floor registers are in good condition, there are several easy to use wood/metal/plastic 'strippers' that you merely brush on or apply with a cloth like Circa 1850. It's important to read the container and follow the instructions carefully. You don't use much product so it helps to have a lot of projects lined up. Possibly ask on 'WANTED' section on Craig'sList for a partial can.

    If you have small divots in the hall wall from nail/screw holes, you can try filling with white toothpaste and wipe gently with fine grit sandpaper when dry. If you have the correct coloured paint, touch up using an earbud/swab for tiny spots.

  2. Carol Says:

    Dear Patient Saver,
    It is no wonder that you have feelings of anxiety; you have been struggling along for quite a while now. Your readers admire you for your strength in keeping on and keeping going. It is normal after your experiences to be wary. However, I wonder what you could do to try to relax and enjoy this 10 month breather. The good news is that you own your home, you have a better than decent 401(k) and you have your inner strength which is substantial! You also have your fans out here in Saving Advice land and we are rooting for you!

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    I imagine once you've felt the wolf scratching at the door, you never completely feel secure again. Hang in there, you are doing well.

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    Thanks, Snafu. And thanks, Carol. Lucky Robin, you said it perfectly. It reminds me of all those older people who lived thru the Depression and remained uber-frugal for the rest of their lives. I hope that's not really the case with me. We all have visions of our own retirements as a time when we can finally enjoy the fruits of our labor, relax and just enjoy life at a slower pace. No one wants to feel anxious and worry about money all the time. I think I need to consciously make plans to just Have More Fun. I may rejoin the local book club. Getting out and being with others has a way of taking your mind off your own troubles. I think that's what I need.

  5. rob62521 Says:

    I think your anxiety is your mind's way of keeping you safe. From the unfortunate events in the past, you appear to suffer anxiety because you are still in survival mode. Glad things are looking up and hopefully you can relax some.

  6. My English Castle Says:

    So glad the headaches are easing up, and I think getting out a bit more and socializing are both great ideas. I have to laugh at your Diet Coke "splurge." This site is so full of us folks who fret about those $1 splurges. I think so many of us having been cheering you on, we sort of miss your daily updates, but so glad to hear how feel it's going.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad to hear that your headaches seem to be getting better (maybe gone?!) I understand your anxiety ... even now having been fully employed for nearly 3 years and having my EF and other savings starting to get back to where they once were ... I still am anxious about when the other shoe will drop. The last two times I got my EF/savings close to the level I'm now at, that's exactly when the shoe dropped ....

  8. Permanent Temp Says:

    I'm glad your headache situation is looking better. Like you I wonder if I am going to have to keep working piecemeal for the foreseeable future. It is starting to wear me down though.

    I am youngish and dream of a house and maybe even children someday but I can't think about those sort of things when I have a car loan I have to pay and student loans, plus an underfunded EF and IRA.

    Our cost of living is low but it just feels like a never ended cycle of resets. I have had stomach pain for the past month or so thinking its just because I know its ending soon so I'm bracing myself.

    Like you I think they just tell you that too that they might hire you. My husband falls for that everytime. Sits there thinking wow your work is so good they will totally hire you. I block it out, I know better. I just plan and save and pay off as much debt as possible until I run the clock out.

    Living this lifestyle isn't easy but it beats the alternative. Even if things don't pan out for either of us to be a full-timer at least we know we have what it takes to make it through and keep income coming in, a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, in this horrible economy.

  9. Cordelia Says:

    Hi Patientsaver,

    I came across your blog by accident while searching on the net if you can get out of purchasing a car after leaving a deposit. That's when I found you. I have been reading all your posts for the last several days. I truly love the area that you live in - the nature is beautiful. I live in Canada and your property kind of reminds me of mine. I'm a little curious about your constantly mentioning going to the landfill. Do you not have garbage pick-up? Your pay very high property taxes for a house your size as we pay the same amount but our house is 2600sf. I'm absolutely amazed at your health care costs. We have national health care in Canada and I honestly don't know how my family would manage as my husband is self employed and I stay at home if we had to pay for this for my whole family as we also have two kids. I really admire your drive and hard work.

  10. PatientSaver Says:

    Cordelia, you truly made my day! Thank you! I will respond to your questions tonight but have to run and get ready for work. Have a great day!

  11. PatientSaver Says:

    Well, ok, then, TGIF.

    Do I mention the landfill that much? I didn't realize....just a part of weekly life round here. No, we don't have garbage pick-up. I mean, you can pay for it but I found when I used to have it that I didn't get much for my money; they only allowed 2 garbage cans full of household, bagged trash. I always have various other odds and ends, and I like to make use of the recycling areas at the dump too.

    Yes, property taxes are high here in Connecticut, and so is real estate. In fact, property taxes and health care insurance are nearly tied for my most expensive line items, now that the house is paid off.

    I hope you stick around and maybe start up your own blog here!

  12. Cordelia Says:

    Thanks for your response.

    Very interesting. We take things to the dump occasionally but we also have an old pick up truck that we are thankful to have just for those occasions. I often tell my husband that we couldn't live on this property without it so it amazes me how you are hauling stuff to the landfill in your Honda.

    Our property is 1.65 acres so I know what it's like to live on a large heavily treed area. I dread the wind storms as I know the next day we have to deal with millions and branches that need to be picked up and maybe the occasional downed tree. We moved here from a regular subdivision house 5 years ago. My kids don't want to be here anymore since all their friends live in town and they feel isolated but I don't care. We are not MOVING. I love living amongst the trees and having no neighbours so close gives me sustenance for life. I really enjoy the privacy that we have so moving back into town is not going to happen anytime soon.

  13. Cordelia Says:

    In addition. I hope you can stay in your property as I think condo living will disappoint. You will get tired of your very close neighbours and ever rising condo fees.

    However, as a single woman I don't think I would have been able to look after your home and property all by myself. Without a doubt our home was very expensive to buy and continues to be expensive to maintain so I can totally understand for your need to simplify and downshift your life as you approach retirement. You are a fabulous woman and an interesting writer and I will definitely stick around to read your wonderful blog. I hope you keep it up.

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