Wednesday, April 6, 2011


One of the contradictory things I'm struggling with while building this house is the fact that we control absolutely every thing, and yet every thing seems so out of control. I know part of the feeling stems from the fact that we're doing this build from across the country. But most of this out of control feeling has very little to do with the house at all.

Aside from the house itself, work is one of the biggest contributors to the pressure I feel. Not only do I need to maintain my performance, but I feel the need to ratchet it up so that when it comes time to move I will be such a valued employee that they'll agree to keep me employed remotely. In addition to maintaining with the several projects I have, I've also embarked on a huge project that will have a substantial impact on my primary job and been assigned to another new project.

As thankful as I am to actually have a job in this economy, I find myself quickly tiring of bringing work home nearly every night and weekend. Not that I do work every night and weekend, but I bring it home in case I find an hour or two. But just the act of bringing it home with me creates pressure.

Then there's the fact that I haven't told anyone at work about the house. I desperately wanted to say to my boss, "I just really don't feel I can take on another project at this time." But that would definitely let the cat out of the bag. There have been several interactions with co-workers this past week where I've almost let something slip and I find myself having to heavily edit and censor what comes out of my mouth.

Sometimes I just want to hide.

The other main pressure source right now has been finances. Between the current mortgage, the construction, the car repairs, the dental bill, the electrical repairs, the upcoming vet bill (gotta get the cats in for their annual), the property taxes, and the regular expenses like gas, groceries, phone, internet... It just feels like this never ending drain on a very finite resource. We've been very careful over the years to live within our means and Scoob and I have both put a priority on saving, but until we move and get the current house sold we're putting a huge strain on our financial resources.

My friend Becca has been blogging about using a price book while grocery shopping, and after looking at our expenses, it seems to me that the area with the most opportunity to save is groceries. So I'm about to become a more savvy shopper. I usually just go to Safeway for regular groceries; they typically have competitive prices, the store is convenient to the house, and (up until a couple months ago) they did not have that self-checkout nonsense. I also shop at Ranch 99 for Asian groceries that Safeway doesn't carry.

Can I tell you something, I hate self-checkout. Especially at grocery stores. If the regularly employed clerk has a tough time remembering the produce code for Brussels sprouts how am I supposed to remember it? You and I both know that the customers most likely to use the self-checkout are the customers purchasing only a few items. The logical move would be to reduce the number of 10 or 15 and under checkout lanes to encourage those customers to use self-checkout. But no. Not our local Safeway. As soon as they installed the self-checkout kiosks, they immediately cut their checkout staff but kept the 10 and under and 15 and under lanes open, leaving just one lane open for serious grocery shopping.

My consumer loyalty to Safeway was shaken the moment I saw those kiosks going in.

And now that grocery prices are on the rise (I know they say it's the rising cost of fuel that is driving up prices, and I believe that to a point, but there's also some profiteering going on), my consumer loyalty is about to fly out the window. Thank goodness spring is coming on and our local produce stand will soon be carrying a wide variety of yummy stuff. I can buy a week's worth of produce there for about $13, which would cost nearly $30 at Safeway.

Actually the other area of our expenses that could use some trimming is our dining out budget. We've been getting better about how often we eat out and where we choose to go, but last weekend we had a dim sum lunch that ran over $40. $40! Lunch for two! It's killing me. That is extremely out of the ordinary for us. We rarely spend $40 on a dinner out unless it's a special dinner and we're celebrating something.

Anyhow. Pressure. I really wish I could just focus on one thing at a time right now. But I can't. And I won't be able to for some time yet.


  1. Bill and I started re-evaluating our finances lately, too, with adoption expenses looming. I discovered a free service called that I've found really, really useful. It simple enough on the surface for a quick snapshot of our financial health, but we can also geek out endlessly on graphs and other stuff. We were surprised to see that we have a pretty healthy net worth!

  2. Oh, and on a side note, would you be willing to publish your posts in full form for those of us who like to use Reader? Right now, all I can access in Reader is the title of the post. I have to click through to your blog, even if I don't comment.