Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pleasing gone awry....

It's true. I h ate to admit it. But, I want to appear practically perfect in every way to every one at all times. Maybe I should bring this up in therapy.

So, a few weeks back, I was in Atlanta with my two sisters. I was driving in the car with my oldest sister when she mentioned the dilemma she was having with her new GPS. It is one of those talking GPS devices that tell you in its best flight attendant voice when to turn and how to get where you are suppose to be going. The problem was that when she disobeyed the GPS to pull off for gas or a bathroom break, it would become very obstinate in a very vocal way. We were laughing about how it would insist she turn around and the guilt she was experiencing by not following its every command. As I recall her exact expression was, "I am trying to please an inanimate object."

So, I found my own pleasing gene coming out this last week. Remember the curb and the tire and the strut and the spindle and the big expense that came with it all. Well, I had a friend ask me last night, "Why didn't you just file an insurance claim?" Um...because I've never filed an insurance claim. In my close to two decades of driving, I have never filed a claim. I have received one ticket, but I went to traffic school so that my insurance record would never see it. In fact, my husband and I are the coveted customers of every car insurance company out there. I am sure there are executives out there right now that have had full meetings on how to get and keep customers of such caliber. And, for some unknown reason, I didn't want to ruin that. I wanted to please some entity. I didn't want to worry about mentioning an incident when I called to price my insurance. I liked telling the phone representatives that we are perfect in every way that matters to them. Don't try to understand it.

So, last night, I did the math and realized they would have to raise our premium by a whole lot for a very long time to justify me not making a claim on this - even with the $500 deductible. So, I called. And I made our very first car insurance claim. And the girl on the other end was very nice and the whole process was extremely easy. And, if all goes well, we should be getting a decent sized check in the mail soon.

Now, if I can just figure out how to use this new found assertiveness towards the pest control salesmen that troll our neighborhood....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Emergency Fund

So, when you're good at math and that sort of thing, family finances come pretty easy. With my vast actuarial experience, I have created spreadsheets galore predicting our financial future under different scenarios and documenting our past. Its kind of a hobby for me, much like cross-stitching or gardening might be if I did either of those things.

I seemed to have run across a problem, though. While the "documenting our past" worksheets are doing a great job and their accuracy is amazing, those predicting the future ones have been failing miserably. Apparently my life, the universe and the stock market are unaware that I even have these spreadsheets.

June has been one of those months when life hasn't quite matched up with the spreadsheets...and we are only half way through. Some of it has been intentional. The PMS-induced painting frenzy earlier this month was probably not a strict necessity. And, I probably should have included the Cub Scout day camp in the original numbers. Still, we might have recovered from these deviations without incident.

But, then the came the storm. I'm not alluding to anything here - it was an actual storm with wind and rain and lightning and flying tree branches, some of which apparently landed on the street. In fact, one in particular landed on the very street that my husband takes home from work. Now, for a little back story:

When my husband was a teenager, he had an incident in his father's T-bird involving a tree branch. At the time, the tree branch had looked innocent enough, but two blown tires later, he had a true understanding of the danger that tree branches on the street really hold.

So, back to the story. As my husband approached the tree branch, his gut screamed, "Don't hit the tree branch. Anything but the tree branch. You will pop your tires. Volvo tires are $300 a piece. Don't do it. Save the car." So, he swerved....and he didn't hit the tree branch. He hit the curb. Hard. And, guess what? Curbs can do bad things to tires too. And struts. And other parts I can't even remember the names of. But I do know one thing. This definitely wasn't in the June spreadsheet. It wasn't even within the realms of the wriggle room I leave in the spreadsheet. No manipulation of numbers was fixing this.

Then it occurred to me. This was an unexpected event requiring immediate attention - the very definition of an emergency. Wait! I have a spreadsheet for that! And, somehow, out of this disaster, I felt a sense of calm and satisfaction. Because, there was a budget for this very thing - the emergency fund. Now, let's just hope that July and August go well. After all, I don't have another emergency of this magnitude in the budget until at least September.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alliterative Weekend

Last weekend I was in Atlanta visiting with family and my little sister informed me that I had been a major slacker in the blog arena. I had no choice but to agree and to promise future blog posts. So, here is my first attempt in six months at chronicling my fascinating and blog-worthy life.

The kids got out of school on Thursday and, so far, this weekend seems to have taken on a theme. Experiences that would seemly be tied in no other way all have a commonality and, being a math person who is constantly trying to make order of the universe - this was quite calming to my sensibilities.

So, today started the third paleo challenge at my gym. Don't worry, I'm not going to subject you to day after day of menus and caveman-like eating options. In fact, I didn't even officially sign up. I'm just going to try to do my best to follow it in the hopes that the ten pounds that I have gained since the last challenge will find a new home.

Then, on Friday afternoon, I decided that I had a great idea for a project. I was going to paint the kitchen. But, if you've seen my house, that pretty much means painting the entire downstairs. We have one of those "open" floor plans. Yes, the house is only 5 years old, but the builder put flat paint in my kitchen and I have three boys and a husband that likes to cook - need I say more. So, I headed to the Benjamin Moore store with a quest - eggshell paint of such quality that it would only take an amateur to apply it, but would have the stamina to withstand the rigors of 6 sticky hands for decades to come. After two trips and some blind faith in a twenty-something paint store employee to match my color, I came home with three completely overpriced gallons of the "Aura" line of paint and the promise that it will take my walls to a new level of snobbery.

This all would have been fine and well, except last night I started to feel a little pain in my general abdominal region. At first I thought a short trip to the powder room would remedy the situation, but then I realized that whatever was ailing me was not going to take the proper path. So, I vomited - several times. Nobody else in the family got sick and I seem to feel fine this morning - so I am wondering if I just got some mild food poisoning. This has delayed the painting some. Also....did anyone else realize how absolutely crazy it is to try and tape a kitchen to be painted. I'm only hoping that the actual painting of the kitchen is easier.

So, in short, this has been a paleo, painting, painful, possibly poisoned weekend.