Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I want for Christmas is more closet space

Jedi got a B in Math and an A in English this term! Yippee! (Certainly better than the "F" in English he got last winter!)

I am much relieved and I hope he keeps this up for the winter term. I know the winter term will be tough because he's taking 3 classes (he normally takes two, but now his work schedule is only 4 days a week) and one of them is online. The online one will be tough-- the course he stumbled on last winter was an online course-- because I think Jedi needs regular interaction with the professor to fee connected to the course. 

It's really too bad because it would be a GREAT thing if he could do more online courses.  We live in podunksville and he has to drive 45min each way to get to school (community college.)  We also live in the northeast and so, as you can guess, weather is not great in the winter. I'm always afraid he's going to go off the road-- esp. since he grew up in the South and is not used to driving in the snow. He's still  not very confident driving in it.

If he goes on to get his BA, which he wants to do, he'll have to go to a school that's at least 1hour-1 1/2hours away-- one way.  If he could take online courses instead of driving that would be fantastic, but I'm worried his grades would suffer.  We'll see-- the class he's taking this winter will be an experiment of sorts.

In other news... we still haven't won the lottery! Shocker, I know... but unless we win (or somehow get $20k a year raises) we're pretty stuck for the time being in my condo.  My condo would be big... if we lived in Manhattan.  For some reason though, we have Manhattan prices in the middle of nowhere. (Actually, I know why we have crazy prices-- the local University & Hospital are basically the only major employers in our area.  This gives us lots of doctors, professors, and retired Alumni.  They have money... the rest of us who do staff work, or work at the bookstore, or local diner... do not.)  So, if you want to live in close proximity to work, you pay CRAZY housing prices. (No joke-- I pay more for my studio apartment here than I did in PARIS.)

Sure, there are cheaper places to live a bit farther away--- and super cheap places if you want to live an hour away (which MANY people do)-- but to me it's not worth the quality of life trade off.  Not to mention the dangerous driving conditions 1/2 the year, and it's not really appealing to me.

This has just been bothering me lately because Jedi and I are bursting at the seams in my tiny 600 sq foot place. I only have one closet and the doors keep coming off the rails because there's way too much crap in it.  And it's not because we're extravagant and HAVE massive amounts of crap (I think), it's just normal life/living stuff.

And so, I've been perusing the real estate ads (this is a general hobby of mine anyway) with real lust.  And there are some deals to be had with the various short-sales and real estate market decline. (To give you an example, Npapaya paid $5000 less for her 2 bed condo next door to mine this year than I paid for my studio 4 years ago.)

There's a house I'm in LOVE with at the moment. On the outside it doesn't look like much, but inside it's STUNNING. And it's got views of the river and is only 6 min away from work. It's $200k, which is a STEAL in this area. (Well, actually, it's a foreclosure.)

The problem is, at this point, $200k, might as well be $200 million-- that's how unattainable it is.  There really is no possible way we could pay that mortgage, those heating bills, plowing (a necessity up here), electricity... and then life's essentials, like food & clothing & doctor visits.

I just find this maddening because I feel like it's such a modest dream and yet I don't see how this would be possible for us.  I know other people manage! How do they manage?

I was even looking at some other condos in our area that are being sold and that are comparatively cheap.  Even those are out of our range... and they are in no way a "dream" for me, so even though they would be a bit more space than we have now, I know we would quickly outgrow them and I'd soon be looking at a house like the one above.

I don't know what we need to do to get to that point. I thought I was on the right track. When I got my new job I did get a raise.  I had calculated that I would be bringing home $300 more a month, which to me is enormous. What I didn't take into account was the fact that our health insurance is on a sliding scale, which means that I'm actually only bringing in $67 more per month.  It makes me want to tear my hair out! What do we need to do to get ahead?! And yes, I'm putting pennies away for retirement, but they're just that! Pennies! Or, about $150 a month. It's all I can really afford, and it's certainly not the $500 a month that Suze Orman would probably suggest.

Anyway... I know in this season of Christmas i have a LOT to be grateful for. Don't get me wrong, I KNOW that. Friends, Family, Jedi, a roof, heat, a job I enjoy, food on my table. And I am very grateful for it.  I know my administrative assistant is having to go to the food bank and get her presents from the thrift store. (I'm anonymously sending her gift cards to the local grocery store... I wish I could do more.) So yes, I get it. I know there are people who are much worse off than I am.  However, it does make me very covetous when I see the standard "middle class" existence seeming so far out of my reach.

And so, I keep playing the lottery in the hopes that one day I'll be able to have a second closet, because right now that seems like the only way it's ever going to happen.

Ho! Ho! Ho!  Merry Christmas!

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