Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why Frugal?

Well, duh. Unless you've been living under a rock since 2008 you know why. Unemployment hovers around the 10% mark, especially here in GA. Gas prices are out of control. Prices rise but salaries don't.

My personal story: I started with my company as a temp in December, 2002 after having been unemployed for 5 months. It was the worst 5 months of my life, especially coming on the heels of a divorce. My self-esteem was non-existant. I knew that I was nothing but trash. I borrowed $3000 from my parents to make it through and to make sure the divorce was final. In September, 2003 I was hired permanently and refinanced my house in accordance with the divorce agreement - a full 9 months before I had to. My ex was paid $21,500 for sitting in this house and smoking pot and watching me put sweat equity into it for 2 years while he watched TV. I still have no earthly idea how the court arrived at that figure. I hope he's choking on it and I fully believe in karma.

But I digress.

I've now worked for my company for 8 years. I started as an invoicing person and in 3 months was promoted to a buyer. Less than a year later I was asked to go to Tokyo and I thought this was an excellent investment in my future. While I was in Tokyo for a year my company was sold to a corporate conglomerate. I continued to do whatever was asked of me regardless of personal sacrifice. I traveled for months on end to countries where I did not speak the language and somehow managed to thrive, always knowing that eventually my efforts would be recognized in the form of a fair and equitable raise in salary.

It was not to be. After many phone calls and emails I had a salary review (started in April, 2010 and finalized in February 2011) and oddly enough I am exactly at "market value." Like a cut of fucking meat. How convenient. Also I've had 5 "titles" in the past 5 years. I've been A Project Administrator, Project Manager, Program Manager . . . all of which have searchable salaries on the internet, and all of which have salaries exceeding mine in my location. And now I'm a "Senior Project Analyst" which, oddly enough, is a title there is NO SALARY INFORMATION FOR WHATSOEVER. Hmmmm.

I love my job. Truly I love it. I love what I do and I love the people I work with and so "it is what it is." I've revamped my resume and I could start a job search but frankly I've worked a load of jobs and this is the only one I've ever loved. I know I'm worth more. Not a huge amount more, but I know I'm worth more. And yet, since I love my job, and since I've had 2 tiny salary increases in 8 years that haven't even covered the cost of living increase I've had to find it within myself to cut back so I can continue doing what I love.

With two tiny salary increases in the past 8 years my take home is far less than it was in 2004. Our "contribution" to our health insurance increases every year, even as the benefits are reduced. I've managed to increase my 401(k) contribution to 13% when by now it should be at least 17%, if not 20%. When I started, gas was $1.02/gallon. Now it's $3.50 (as of today in GA). My electricity, gas, home insurance, water . . . all have increased substantially. But not the salary.

That said, I am thankful I am employed. I am thankful that I support myself. I have a small list of "want" items. For instance, I "want" a new bed. My bed is 10 years old and it was the very cheapest thing I could afford when I divorced and my ex took the bed. It was better than sleeping on the floor. So, yes. I want a new bed. I "want" to replace the carpet in my "study." None of this is necessary right now. I am able to feed myself with nutritious, good food. I am able to pay my $659/month mortgage. I am able to provide for my feline family and make sure they have their annual vet visits. I am RICH compared to so many and I have nothing to complain about!

And so I have found ways to be frugal. And so these are things I will share in coming posts.

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