Tag Archives: Money

Viewing a Home Sucks

In an hour we’re going to go look at a house and I’m pretty nervous about it all. The reasons are pretty irrational but I’m still nervous. I have to meet someone new, maybe get to stared at by the current neighbors, and apparently the place were looking at is kind of a rental property so there’s tenants. If we buy this house these people will be paying us to live there. That’s a terrifying thought. In fact the guy, Jorge, that we talked to seemed confused as to why we were interested in it. He asked me if it was for “an investment” to which I replied, “Uh, we’re just looking to buy a house to live in.” Whatever. We can live in 2/3 of the house and maybe rent the other part out. That’s a smart move, right? It’ll be stressful evicting two of the other people/families though. My anxiety just increased quite a bit…

A view from Google Maps. Isn’t this gorgeous?

And then there’s the debt. I have a strong aversion to debt that is justifiable but also not. I was terrified to take out a $12,000 loan to buy a car, so the prospect of going $100,000 in debt for decades is…eh! I think my views on debt differ from about 80% of the general US population but I have no data to back that up with. People seem to love debt! Credit card debt, student loan debt, personal loan debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, payday loan debt, medical debt, and so on. I also have the suspicion that people don’t know how debt actually works. There’s this little thing called “interest” that you also have to pay with debt and owing money is always a net loss compared to just paying up-front in cash. To me debt is a tool to be used sparingly when you need to buy something that you need but can’t afford in cash.

A good example here: a coworker just quit his job to move to Arizona. He bought a quarter-million dollar house and this guy, sorry for the blatant stereotyping, doesn’t seem to be the type of person that should be buying a quarter-million dollar home. Maybe he’s loaded with cash, but probably not. My other coworkers/friends have the suspicion that this guy doesn’t know how interest works. In his head he can probably pay off the home in 10 years; after all $250,000/$25,000 is ten, right? We also joked that he probably isn’t aware of a thing called “property tax” and will try to sue the State of Arizona for plopping a yearly $15,000 charge to his yearly payments. He probably also has like a 50-year mortgage and being in his 50s will be dead before the place is paid for, but rambling story aside, this guy probably doesn’t know how money works.

I think my aversion to debt comes from my parents. They were/are terrible with money and I learned how not to be like them at a very young age. My mom and dad used to have vivid and violent arguments about money as my sister and I were growing up. It always seemed we were living on the edge, just barely making it with zero margin for error. Any unexpected expense that came up could derail the entire family’s security. Worst of all, whenever any extra money did appear (like in the form or a tax return or stimmy check) it would somehow be instantly pissed away and we’d be back to living on the risky edge of poverty again. Like, shit, save some money so you guys aren’t stressed and arguing all the damn time. It makes so much sense in my head that other people not seeing it my way just does not compute. Like at all.

They’re still bad with money. My dad’s car has a stuck thermostat and instead of borrowing the $90 from me (at zero percent interest!) from me to fix it, he’s going to buy coolant at $20 a bottle until his stimmy check comes in. He’s getting his mailed so this could be quite a long time and while he waits…cash losses towards coolant. My mom still itemizes all of her expenses to me whenever we talk. It’s always a woe-is-me story about how she doesn’t make that much and how many bills she has. That fatalistic view where she doesn’t have any say in the direction of her life or anything; she’s just a passenger along for the ride. What happens, happens, and what else can she do other than float along?

That wasn’t to be a woe is me story by the way. I’m just stressing that I’m so goddamn good with money and terrified of debt because my parents are so damn bad with money that I have zero ability to not be this way. And goddamn am I thankful for it. I’m a cheap and greedy bastard who hates to owe anyone anything and find I can never have enough cash on to ever make me feel safe. As if some $40,000 emergency expense will somehow appear out of the ether and ruin my life. All of our cars could instantly blow up and it wouldn’t cost near that much money to cover. Despite having more cash than would ever be needed I still feel I must hoard it.

This is turning into quite the rant about money, isn’t it? It’s about time to go look at that house, so let’s see how that goes. Maybe I’ll write about that later.

***

Well, it’s a hell of a lot later and while I was thinking of tossing this proto-post straight into the trash I’ll allow it to live on. I’m having a six-pack of White Claws as a “celebration” to our failed endeavor: the house is trash, the search continues, and life as I know it is still as boring and mundane as it has been for the past few years. We’re still stuck living at my mother-in-laws home and I’m surprised I haven’t bitched about that entire situation yet on this blog. It’s a mess, and that’s all I’ll write about it at this time.

(Hint: The entire ‘writing-desk situation’ is partially due to my mother-in-law dictating the shit out of her house to where I never have a spot to properly “set up shop.” My shit is constantly being moved, relocated, and lost so it’s hard to gain my bearings and just, ya know, sit down and fucking write.)

The house was nice, but also a dump. I mentioned that it had “three rentable units” and this was true to some degree. Two of the units were being rented at a whopping $900 and $1,500 a month and at first all I saw was dollar signs. Shit, $2,400 a month just from the tenants? Damn. Free money! As for the third? Nope, non-existent. It was a bombed-out, currently-being-renovated mess with no walls, no working plumbing or water, with wooden trim boards and linoleum strew all about the floor. It would cost a small fortune to fix up, and while I’m a DIYer at heart this was well above my skill level. I felt like Gandalf warning the others of the Balrog…

The tenants didn’t have anything good to say either. “There is no heat,” one lady said, “so we’re using space heaters.” The other guy said they had to move to a hotel when the temperatures became sub-zero and even lawyered-up to get the landlord to pay for the costs. There was also an impressive amount of the same model of space heater located in each of the rental units; the landlord had to buy them for the tenants due to the lack of heat in the building. Holy fuck, this guy was buying space heaters to keep the renters warm? And since the electric bill is on one meter, he had to pay the entire thing, apparently passing on the costs via the rent to the tenants. As someone who wants to eventually solar power his entire house I’m totally against any form of electric heating. It’s expensive. It’s inefficient. It’s bulky and it’s awkward from a Second Law of Thermodynamics perspective. Just burn natural gas for heating and even my “let’s protect the world from climate change” self knows this is a smart move.

The basement had signs of flooding with no sign of any building-wide heating. No pipes, no old furnace, nothing. So…what was there to be done if you did buy the place? Fuck if I knew; there were no easy and obvious solution to the heating problem. Hilariously enough, space heater boxes littered the floor of the basement and I had the image of the landlord, someone who stumbled into a disaster of property management, desperately buying 30 space heaters from Amazon to stop from being sued by the tenants. The same model of course: just smash the “quantity” button until they’d cease threating to sue your ass. What a guy. What an unsung hero. i really wanted to meet the guy just to be like, “Bro, what did you get yourself into here? Jesus Christ…”

So let me pour out a beer White Claw for what could’ve been, what I was so anxious about. Was I about to own a house? Was I about to have people paying me for rent? Was I about to be a real adult and own property? No, apparently not. But it was a good first step. We actually talked to someone and viewed a house. A disaster, sure, but a house none-the-less. I suppose this day was one of the days that slowly breaks down your barriers and insecurities and makes the next opportunity easier to seize when it does arise. And I suppose it’s some small success that even I, someone with no landlord or property holding experience, could see that this place was a disaster. A place to dump endless cash into trying to make it work. Trying to make the margins just high enough to be positive. A place you want to save but you just can’t. It’s a shame. The house is nice enough but damn are there problems.

The other reason for celebrating tonight is that I raked in $4,500 this week in the stock market. Not that I can dump that into our soon-to-be future home, but it’s a success none-the-less and is worthy of celebration. Let’s have a drink for the following week and hopefully I make lots of tendies because I sure won’t be owning a house in the near future. Here we go guys…

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Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.