Pushing Through Writer’s Block

For some reason, I don’t feel like posting today.

Maybe it’s because of the holiday weekend, or because this is a Monday or because I’m only one coffee-cup deep into the day. Whatever it is, it’s giving me writer’s block. The best approach to the writer’s curse, I’ve read, is to just keep writing, so that’s what I’m doing today.

This weekend was a great little mental vacation. I barely touched the computer, didn’t look at my spreadsheets and didn’t even touch Mint. It felt very free. I did, however, spend some time (using my phone) reading over some posts from Steve Pavlina on his Passive Income Series. Who knows whether I’ll actually use any of that information, but it’s generally entertaining to read his stuff. I’m not much for “personal development,” but I also appreciate the way some things make me think.

I made some headway this weekend with my wife. I didn’t really post about it because I prefer to keep my personal problems personal, but we’ve been hashing out the approach we’re taking toward finances as a family. This happened because one day I mentioned how I thought a particular Groupon deal she was interested in was a waste of money. Keep in mind, I have been drinking some of the Kool-aid from the folks who are frugal, and sometimes I get carried away with ideas.

So this became an issue.

All of a sudden, I’m a penny-pinching miser who isn’t the man she married. And I’m not that guy, but she had a point. I was just reacting to things with negativity because I’m trying to maximize our savings. It’s easy to forget that we’re all people and we’re all in this together. Plus, I hadn’t really discussed where I’ve been lately. Sure, I tell her about every bloody thing I read whether she’s interested or not, but that’s not discussing things. It’s not making sure we’re on the same page.

So finally, I apologized for getting ahead of myself and explained where I was coming from. It’s not that I don’t want to spend money on things that are important to us, it’s that I don’t want to spend money frivolously. More succinctly, I want to spend money on things we love, but cut way back on things we don’t. So it’s not that I’m turning into Mr. Cheapskate, it’s that my intention is to turn into Mr. Mindful.

And some of you may think me stupid for carrying this mindset, but I don’t mind, because each of us is on a different path. For my life, I want to save money but I also want to be able to have things I like along the way. While I don’t want to save life enjoyment for typical retirement age, I also don’t want to live a life of scarcity leading up to early retirement. There has to be a balance.

So that eased the tension and we were back to normal. I even worked in some ideas for some slow travel in there, because a significant portion of our monthly income goes to paying a mortgage on one fat house. The false dilemma a lot of people fall into is that you either need to rent an apartment or buy a house, but as I read and learn, there are a variety of other options. For example, we could sell this house, buy a couple houses (duplexes maybe) in different locations and then maintain a home base (which is important to people apparently) while renting out the unused (by us) units. This way, we could still travel all over. We wouldn’t be homeless nomads — a very important mental safety net for my wife and children — just wandering the earth.

The success there wasn’t that she readily agreed, but that she didn’t put up an offense to it. Honestly, there are some great reasons to get out of the main stream and venture into the wild unknown. For one, life shouldn’t be the same thing on repeat. Maybe I’m crazy, but I also think it would be far more interesting for my kids if they could experience different cultures both inside and outside their native country. I don’t know if there are published statistics on mental health for those who have traveled and those who haven’t, but I would hope it would have a generally positive impact.

I’ll have to look that up after I finish writing this post. Er, wait. Hold on. My inner critic is reminding me of kids that get moved from state to state, school to school, causing them to leave their friends behind each time. This could probably cause some damage in terms of an ability to form long-term relationships.

On the other hand, I drove far, far away from home when I graduated high school and basically left all my friends behind. I still keep in touch with some, but we all live some distance apart. Still, there’s something to be said for getting through school with the same set of friends. I was definitely able to do that, so I don’t know that I’d want to deprive my children of that experience.

Of course, recently I met a well-traveled young lady who was wise beyond her years. Her father being a diplomat, she was moved from place to place while he was stationed for a few years in each location. Talking to her, I wanted the same thing for my children. I’m aware that there are no guarantees in life and that my wife and I are completely different parents in different situations to hers, but still, there is something alluring to that kind of life story.

I mean, if you could choose your sort of childhood experience, and you were given two choices, either — A, relating to most people by sharing in most of the same experiences or B, having unique and interesting stories to tell people — which would you choose? That’s not such an easy answer, and it might differ from person to person. It’s almost unfair to force it on children, one way or the other, but we do it anyway.

I’ll have to look into this a bit more.

 

18 Responses

  1. I hear ya bud. I wrote a little post today for the same reason. I’m working on 3 different posts but they aren’t ready yet so I just made a little post since I haven’t posted for a few days. ( I also hear ya on the wife drama as well. Unfortunately they tend to be right from time to time)
    Adam – IWTRS recently posted…Dividend Income (KO)My Profile

    1. What’s funny is that these posts always get the most comments. The ones I’m most excited about (Net Worth update, Goal Achievement, etc.) seem to get fewest, but it’s no big deal.

      But yeah, these filler-from-the-heart posts don’t hurt; they just aren’t primarily about our favorite topic — money!

      FM

      1. It may be because we read so many different blog posts regarding money and finance that sometimes it’s nice to read non-finance topics from finance minded people? At least that is the reason for me. It would be interesting to see how off topic you could get though and still get comments :)
        Adam – IWTRS recently posted…Dividend Income (KO)My Profile

    1. BeSmartRich,

      Yeah, we definitely both care deeply about the sort of direction the family ship is traveling in. We all want what’s best, but we don’t always agree on what that is, so we turn to these little conversations (and sometimes spats) to sort of compromise and realign.

      It beats the hell out of never communicating and just drifting apart, that’s for sure. I’ll take a fight over that any day. :)

      FM

  2. The only tip I could give you with the whole writing block thing is to try not to take missing a day or two or three too seriously. I’ve been blogging since my college days (about 9 years ago) and in form or the other have had trouble writing new/any content at times. In my opinion it really just means you may need a break from writing. Whenever I don’t have the motivation to write I’ll just follow my usual routine: check forums, check accounts, check reddit, check other blogs – in the 3-4 hours of “check this/that” if I have been paying attention there should have been 10-20 topics to write about.
    Onto the wife thing though, my GF has been saying the same exact thing these past 6 months. “You never cared about money and now you’re all about it”…”I don’t understand why buying a $800 purse is such a big deal” (well because it is)… I’ve gotten her to see the light somewhat, shes now making her 401k. It’s tough, she calls me scrooge now but hopefully both of our ladies will realize in 10 years or even less ‘Wow I didn’t realize we had that much saved/invested’. (Lightbulb moment)
    -Rich
    Redeemed Finance recently posted…Portfolio Update June 2015My Profile

    1. The only tip I could give you with the whole writing block thing is to try not to take missing a day or two or three too seriously. I’ve been blogging since my college days (about 9 years ago) and in form or the other have had trouble writing new/any content at times. In my opinion it really just means you may need a break from writing.

      While I totally agree with you, I also have to contend with myself. I know me. I get distracted with other things and then picking up where I left off feels like a bear.

      Regarding your routine though, I think that’s pretty much my same exact routine. Huh. But still, I was burnt out on that routine also. I think I’m better now; I just have to remember to take it easy.

      It’s tough, she calls me scrooge now but hopefully both of our ladies will realize in 10 years or even less ‘Wow I didn’t realize we had that much saved/invested’. (Lightbulb moment)

      Exactly! I always think about that, and sometimes I let it slip out that we have X amount in savings. My kids are young though and have little concept of what any amount of money is. I remember my daughter asked me if we’re rich and I couldn’t quite say no, but I remember answering along the lines of, “To some people we’re rich and to others, we’re poor. What’s important is that we are happy.” Cheesy, I know but I don’t want them focusing on comparisons, but rather the objective of money.

      FM

  3. Hi FiMonkey,

    I found that it was very important for me to be with a wife who has the same view I have of our finances. My ex was spending way more than she was earning, always on the edge of being bankcrupt… she had a master in finance and was an accountant too…

    I couldn’t build anything with her so we split. My current wife is a lot more in line with me but she often tells me that I’m cheap… Overall we want the same. Financial independence at a young age but the road to get there (spend less and save a lot) is far easier for me than for her. So we sometime get into arguments about it. I guess it’s part of the game.

    Financial independence is important but living the present is as important too… after all we never know when our time on earth will be over.

    Cheers
    Allan recently posted…June 2015 : passive income update. Another solid month!My Profile

    1. I found that it was very important for me to be with a wife who has the same view I have of our finances. My ex was spending way more than she was earning, always on the edge of being bankcrupt… she had a master in finance and was an accountant too…

      This is like doctors who smoke and eat fast food! You know how to do things the right way, and yet you choose to go the other way. Just nuts.

      I couldn’t build anything with her so we split.

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      My current wife is a lot more in line with me but she often tells me that I’m cheap… Overall we want the same. Financial independence at a young age but the road to get there (spend less and save a lot) is far easier for me than for her. So we sometime get into arguments about it. I guess it’s part of the game.

      Well, at least you’re figuring things out together. In my opinion, arguments are great because people who don’t fight in some way are either perfect or on the path to Splitsville.

      Financial independence is important but living the present is as important too… after all we never know when our time on earth will be over.

      This is exactly right, and it’s something that gets sort of glossed over in a lot of discussions in the FI/RE/PF communities. Our expiration date is always a question mark. Of course, we have to make plans for the case that we stick around longer than expected, but not at the expense of enjoying now.

      FM

  4. I’ve been in a similar situation. Although I’m not married, I own a house with my significant other.

    She would go shopping quite often when we first met and it wasn’t until I sat her down with a spreadsheet and showed her how long she’d be paying her student loans if she didn’t start getting serous about it (we met right out of college).

    At first she didn’t like me pointing out poor purchases, but she gets it now. Even the other day, we were cleaning and we found a necklace holder she purchased about a year ago still with the tag on it and in a closet. Of course I had to say “told you so!”

    At the same time, new experiences and adventures are important to us. So we’re willing to go on small trips and what not that we find meaningful. And instead of buying things on impulse, we have a rule that we have to have X amount in an emergency fund and then everything above that (in our joint account) can be spent on trips, recreation, home upgrades, etc.

    I’m new to your blog so I don’t have a lot of background, but figured I’d share my two cents and say hello!
    Red to Riches recently posted…June 2015 Net Worth UpdateMy Profile

    1. Hey Red,

      Glad to have you!

      My wife is actually great with money and before we were married, she was the one saving like crazy. I was sort of mindless about money in general and would just use it whenever I saw it. Easy come, easy go!

      But now things have sort of flipped. I manage our money, investments, etc. and I think she has sort of enjoyed quitting her job to be a mom. So much so that she told me when I asked her to cut back, she said it made her want to spend more. Go figure. At least she’s cognizant of it!

      So yeah, it’s baby steps for us, but it sounds like you and your significant other have worked out a groove in that way. Hoping it works out that way for us as well. :)

      FM

  5. Monkey,

    I dealt with the same issue you did. On the way back from the lake this last weekend my girlfriend wanted to stop off and buy blueberries. I was game, “of course we can” I said expecting enough for a pie. Turns out the seller sold only in amounts of 5 lbs or more. $11 on 5 lbs of blueberries I spent.

    Long story short, I became quite the discussion on the way home. I want to save money but still enjoy life with her. Ill have to find the line sooner or later.

    DK
    dividendkid recently posted…July Stock Watch ListMy Profile

    1. DK,

      Yeah, you definitely have to choose your battles. Money is important to me, but my marriage is more important. I think as long as we keep that bond, in whatever form it may be (doesn’t have to be marriage), in front then things will be fine.

      From time to time, it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder.

      Also, it sounds like your conversation would have been interesting to listen to!

      FM

  6. I think it’s funny that your first line, “For some reason, I don’t feel like posting today,” is the start of a pretty important blog post to begin with. It’s very important to get your significant other on board with your cheapskate, frugal, saving, investing, sacrificing (or whatever label you want to put on it) ways. It makes life that much easier and is probably best easing into this lifestyle rather than suddenly reusing toilet paper etc. Go slow, be patient and start small. That’s the only advice I can give. Try and see things through her eyes and nibble on this whole process instead of gorge.
    DivHut recently posted…Dividend Income Update – June 2015My Profile

    1. @DH,

      I think it’s funny that your first line, “For some reason, I don’t feel like posting today,” is the start of a pretty important blog post to begin with.

      Now that you mention it, I totally agree. I intended on that post being somewhat small, but I just wanted to get something out there. In retrospect, this post helped me verbalize (well, put into words) the issues I’m dealing with at present. It’s important to me to show the bumps along the path, and finding out you aren’t on the same page with your spouse is a pretty big bump. We actually had a conversation about this today and I had to admit that I had sort of just started changing my ideas about what my goals are without even really consulting her. Big no-no when you have a partner. So therein begins the compromise. I shouldn’t expect her to completely align with me right off the bat. Like you say, I should go slow and be patient.

  7. Two cents on the moving the kids question: One of us moved a lot growing up, went to college far away from high school, moved cross country after college, then moved cross country again a few years later. That one of us is far better at adapting to new places, makes friends easily and is an eager traveler. The other stayed in the same place all through high school, went to college nearby, then worked much of the career where growing up — and now doesn’t keep much more in touch with folks from growing up than the other, and has a harder time adapting. So that’s our experience. We think kids are resilient, and it’s good for them to experience different places and people while young.
    Our Next Life recently posted…How to Define Ourselves in Retirement // Creating a New Vision of Self WorthMy Profile

    1. ONL,

      Excellent input and the kind I’d hope someone would add to this topic. It’s easy to assume, since I mainly fall into the staying-put narrative, that people who move around a lot can’t form those personal connections that people normally do. On the other hand, I find that forming those same connections is still very difficult, but I thought that was just me. Secretly, I think that the more people travel, the less they care about fitting a particular mold which makes them much more interesting and thus, probably quicker to the heart of people.

      Thanks for commenting!

      FM

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