On the other side of grief’s maddening nuances are three normal stressors a single 70 year old widow may face. Speaking for myself, 3 major stressors (besides overall sense of confusion) are finances, finances and finances. It seems I am spending a lot of money. It also looks like I have a lot of money. My house, 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, and 2015 Mercedes Sprinter Van are paid for. I also have a little bit of money in an investment account. Heck, my electric bill for the hottest month of the year, August, is a whopping $51. So, why am I stressed?
My investment portfolio is spread amongst several low interest/low risk mutual funds. Within the mutual funds there are stocks and bonds. Because my broker is in the midst of changing companies I am waiting for one of the new statements which I expect to be able to access on Monday. I did access a statement from another new firm I am vested in. Not only are the year to date (YTD) rates in the minus (-) .02% range, the rate since the inception of the fund is in the negative zone. What didn’t I hear when this was discussed with my broker about changing to these companies. Of this you can be sure, me and Mr. Investor Broker will talk about this on Monday.
Monday will also be a day of automobile maintenance. The van is getting new set of tires, the wheels aligned, the oil changed and a lesson about the government required diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). According to the online magazine, Autoweek (Sept. 1, 2018), federal law mandates the use of DEF to control nitrogen oxides that are a part of the exhaust fumes emitted by diesel engines. Because DEF can damage engine parts if spilled while filling the container it is a task best left to a professional. (I know this because someone, (who shall remain anonymous) spilled def on their three month old engine parts. The price for repairing the engine damage was $4000+).
Oh yea, I just thought of other expenses adding to my financial stress. The van needs new windshield wiper blades and the brakes need to be checked. With an estimated cost of $800 for the ires, and def, I am putting $1200 in the budget to take care of whatever the van needs in order to get me off safely on my upcoming 3 month van trip.
Three months? Am I really going to leave my house for 3 months? Holy cow, who will take care of my house, our cabin on the hill. You know the house Ron and I bought that. faces the Spanish Peak Mountains. The house that shelters my fear. The house he won’t be coming inside about 2 pm for a sandwich and a glass of water. “DAM it!”
Back to finances, the basic bills for the month include electricity, water, and trash. Certainly I can pre-date checks and have them ready to mail from where ever I am at the time they are due. Then, there will be 2 or 3 helper fees. One fee is for a neighbor who will empty my USPS mailbox and stow everything in a box until I return. A second fee is for for a neighbor who will check on the house once a week. The agreement is they will check the inside of the house. Making sure the anti-bug lights are working, there aren’t any mice running around, and once a month turn the air condition on for about 15 minutes. Then, turn on the heat for equivalent amount of time.
Outside it is important a neighbor will check for rodent infestation. If needed they are to call the BUG MAN. The BUG MAN is a commercial services paid a handsome fee for keeping rats and other critters from building a nest under the deck or within 50 feet of the house, garage and shed. A third fee is set aside to assist neighbors 1 or 2 if needed. All my friends will be invited to take a thriving potted geranium to their house for watering and general care. The budgeted cost for these three helpers is minimal. If not paid in cash, then gift cards to a nice dinner restaurant or trinkets from my travels will be given.
As I write this the financial stress is going away. My belly is full of freshly made chicken salad, whole wheat gluten free crackers and a liter of water. I am fully content.
Well, I was content until I put a period on that last sentence. As I hit the proper key a beautiful soft feathered blue bird flew past the loft window. My brain was jarred. I reminded myself to put the upcoming house/auto insurance premium and the property taxes due on the budget. Then, I need to research amount for our property taxes. I know I will have to pay something on the investment money I withdrew in 2017. I used that money to pay the deposit on our house. I don’t understand why I don’t know the exact amount of money my required distribution is. Next time I talk with my investment broker and my accountant and I will again ask them to explain it to me again.
All of this blogging about my finances has shifted my stress about money to stress about the bottom line. What do I want? As I see it there are 2 choices: (1) to buy or to not buy a cruising boat and/or (2) to continue living here in this desert like, low humidity environment or to move somewhere else. Maybe I will make a flow chart to illustrate the ifs involved in each possible choice. Maybe I should quit this blog entry and work on my book.
What to do? What’s a Girl to do? What should I do?
I certainly do not have the answer to these questions. What I do know is that my mind shifted while conceptualizing the choices I mentioned in the above paragraph. While stressing over what to do or not do, I realized my financial stress dissipated at the moment I began to for gratitude that you are reading my rant about my finances. The stress seems to have come from not knowing how much money I had to spend. Knowing how much money I have has relieved some of the stress. Knowing how much I have challenges me to find a creative way to make whatever new dream that seeps into my psyche come true. As Ayn Rand reminds:
Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish.
It will not replace you as the driver. — Ayn Rand