Yay! Good news! Getting the loan on my house means a long string of long-delayed tasks can get done. Ah. What? A loan doesn’t equate to money in my account, which doesn’t translate to immediately paying off lots of bills, and many of those tasks aren’t instantaneous? What ever happened to instant gratification? Why are there so many question marks in this first paragraph? Ah, because answers and resolutions are rarely as easy as they seem in the stories. That’s true at a personal level and in the broader world. So, yay?!
I live in the US. Money cures all ills, so some say. The ads certainly make it seem that way. Hello, reality.
As I wrote, about three weeks ago I got a loan on my house. (A Home Loan To Retire Anxieties) Whew. Some things were immediate, partly because they were bills that were already due. It felt good to pay my homeowners dues. It was relatively easy to restock my pantry, but there has been a delay because I still wait for sales. A massage was not an indulgence; it was necessary because years of tension don’t evaporate within an hour or two. I foresee many more sessions before we can work past a surface of taught muscles to get to the necessary core work. Until then any massage will involve speed bumps as being uptight proves to be more than a euphemism. My portfolio has been restocked and rebalanced after filling gaps opened when I needed interim funds. I actually sold high(er) and bought low(er) for part of that. And, I found a counselor to help me work through the stresses, anxieties, and bad habits I’ve accumulated during a decade of frugality by necessity instead of choice.
Money can be an answer, but despite its seeming immediacy reality imposes real restrictions of such simple things as time and weather. So much rain, so few hikes.
A month after being issued a very nice line of credit, I’m barely through my initial list of deferred items. I still want to pay off my new old Jeep, donate my truck, get the chimney cleaned, submit myself to some medical tests, get a haircut (and looking forward to a professional beard trim), get a new credit card, fix things like a fence; and maybe even get around to some new sweats (though I did already get new hiking boots to go with the Jeep), a restocked liquor collection, a cord of firewood and a few yards of yard and garden soil. Oh yeah, and maybe I’ll listen to my various doctors and actually take a vacation. (I grinned at the unlikelihood of me actually managing that because I’m out of practice and have a rough time remembering how to let things be for a day. A week or a month is almost unimaginable.) Oh yeah, and I might even get some furniture to sleep on in my bed-less bedroom because I sold a lot of furniture nine years ago. Almost a decade of sleeping on a futon couch. (Which my doctor has also warned me about.)
But, that’s my life. Now for the rest of the world.
It is easier for me to see that things are getting better for me (keeping in mind that my improvements come from taking on more debt.)
There are reasons for optimism and pessimism in the world. (Crisis Fatigue And Hope) Fossil fuels are fading, regardless of subsidies. Death by violence is down; though death by ignorance of science is up, but that’s somewhat self-selected. Awareness of many issues is improving, even with faulty information. And people are acting as individuals to live more sustainable and enjoyable lives.
As I’ve written previously, electric cars, home solar systems, LED lighting, work/learn from home, gardening and crafts are becoming more popular simply because they make sense. Organizations can champion such initiatives, but people integrating changes into their lives make them sustainable.
It is going to take time, however.
The pandemic has been a major trauma and disruption, but it has also prompted and accelerated change. Archaic ideas and institutions are being abandoned. Why commute? Why not grow at least some of your own food? Why burn fossil fuels? Why should we assume that old laws, policies, and habits should be protected when they don’t protect who we are and who we are becoming?
The answers may be obvious, but the changes will take time. Knowing “thou shalt not kill” is a good idea, but we’re still working at kicking that habit.
My personal changes amidst the larger changes is providing me an opportunity to think ahead. We can’t predict the future, but plans for personal finances must at least make guesses, hopefully based on what’s been learned. I suspect some of the people who will be ahead later are those who are thinking ahead now. I’m thinking. I’m thinking.
I’m thinking, but I’m also in the midst of my personal changes. I am also, however, trying to decide which way to go rather than striving to return to the past. It ain’t easy. It won’t be easy for our society, either. (massive understatement)
It is powerful to write about definite actions and conclusions. Check out the popular media sources and politics. Nuances aren’t as popular as simple declarative statements. That works for spreading the word, even when oversimplification makes the message more useful for manipulation than effective implementation. I choose to pay more attention to the nuances. They may not make fun cocktail conversations, but we’re not having many of those events, anyway.
Over the next few months I plan to plan. Maybe I’ll end up living a life that blends into suburbia, but I intend to consider other possibilities, communities, – and more importantly for this blog, other investments.
My version of personal finance remains “Spend less than you make, and invest the rest.” That’s the basis of my book, Dream. Invest. Live., and this blog. I guess I could just post that one line every week and hit repeat; but the majority of readers tell me they are more interested in stocks and community and how they are changing. Stay tuned as I expand on those themes, particularly as the pandemic and politics change our world. This is going to take some time, but my hope is that things are getting better. I just guess I’ll have to accept that good news usually travels slowly.