February 3, 2012

Where I've Been...

As some of you who are friends with me on Facebook know, I lost my mind a few months ago and decided that working full-time and being a mom were not nearly enough to keep me busy.  After all - the hours between 2:15 a.m. and 5:30 were not booked!

Whatever was a girl to do?!  Well, if you were this girl, and you were smack dab in the middle of a class you were taking at the university called "Personal Finance," you got really scared about the fact that you and your husband were going to be forced to become the old people who live off of canned cat food in your retirement - but only if you've been diligent about clipping coupons.  Otherwise, be quiet and chew your kibble! 

This class was excellent, and I think it's one that should be required of all high school seniors.  I remember when I was in high school (wayyyyy back in the day), our "financial training" consisted of being required to write out fake checks (no problem...  I can totally write out fake checks, even to this day!) and balance a fake check register in Mr. Olaveson's (he who was too busy chatting with the jocks to help anyone with a question) math class with nary a budgeting lesson in sight.  I was now prepared to survive on my own!

And survive I have, sometimes by the skin of my teeth.  However, I thought it would be good to take this class and maybe learn a few things I hadn't yet picked up in the 20+ years since high school.  Plus it fulfilled the Depth Social Science requirement that I needed towards my degree (also 20+ years in the making), and seemed more relevant to my needs in life than "Western European Politicians and the People Who Love Them" or something similar, so sign-up I did...

So what was my main take-away lesson?  We will never be ready for retirement, and our best hope is that Jesus returns to sweep us up to heaven before then or we will indeed be those sad Friskies-eating octagenarians.

One of our in-class exercises was to figure out what we need to keep our current standard of living, what we expect to get from Social Security (hahaha... excuse me while I try to stop my tears of laughter), what our savings and liquid assets amount too (sorry - here comes another hysterical fit of laughter), and how many years left until we can retire to calculate - TA DA! - the amount we should be putting into our retirement accounts each MONTH.

Are you ready for this? (Because I certainly wasn't).

To live at the same standard we currently do (have you seen my house? the Taj Majal it's not!) - we need to be actively saving $1800 per month.  That's right: One Thousand, Eight Hundred George Washington's EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH.  That's $21,600 every. single. year. That's more than half of my salary!

Anyhoo, plagued by nightmares of our future, I decided it was time to quit "pussy-footing around" as my grandma would have said, and get serious about finishing up my degree, so I plan on taking at least 2 classes every semester and should finish up in just over 4 years (Whoo-hoo - I'm almost a junior! Just three-tenths of one credit away...).  

Which leads me to the whole point of this long, winding story:

Last night I came home from work to find Savannah on my laptop.

"I need you to get off of there so I can do my homework," I said.

"Give me a minute," she said, rolling her eyes.

So I went in the bathroom to change into my comfy pajamas.  Unfortunately, while I was in there one of my sadly-neglected novels that I'd been reading before classes started whispered to me from it's perch: "Psstt... over here.  Just a few pages won't hurt ya. You'll like it..."  But you know how it is... One page turns into another, and then it's just a slippery slope to an all-nighter on the bathroom floor, butt numb as it sits on the bath-mat, your eyes weepy because you just cannot believe that's how the author ended the book after all you've given up for it.

Resigned to my fate, I had just turned another page when Savannah knocked on the door and then entered. 

"Why aren't you doing your homework?" she asked, eyeing me sitting indian-legged on the floor, book in hand.

"But I'm soooo tired, and I just wanted to relax for a minute," I whined replied in turn.

"Don't make me count to five!" she snapped and then started the count-down as I scurried to my computer, her no-nonsense eyes boring a hole in my back.

She's going to make a fine mother some day! But will she help carry our bags of kitty-food when we're older?