So, if I can keep living in the same place, for the same amount of rent for the next several years, and I cancel my cable TV, and cut back my phone’s minutes, and don’t ever get internet access at home, and continue to not go to the movies, and continue not to go out to eat very often, and my utilities don’t skyrocket, and keep my job with Realink, I can theoretically pay back my debt at about $650/month. If tech support continues to get a bonus, I’ll even have a little spending money in the meantime. At that rate, with interest calculated approximately, if I don’t add to my debt, I should have all of my debt paid off by March, 2004.
With raises, maybe a little bit faster. With unexpected expenses, maybe a little bit slower. Some people ask me why I choose to spend most of my time by myself at home. I really can’t afford to do much else.
This is intentional, to a degree. My debt grounds me. Forces me to stay in the same place, doing the same things, avoiding certain activities, for a long time. Gives me stability, for a time. If I invest the same amount of money every month from the time my debt is paid off until my 30th birthday, I will have over $35,000 in savings, and 7 years experience living on the cheap. Then I can just put my possessions into storage and fly over to Eurasia and walk around for a couple years, right?
Anyway, it would be nice to be in the same place for seven years. Who knows if such a thing is possible. There are many things that can stand in the way of this, not the least of which is an uncertain future for all Americans in the face of war, and all mankind in the face of …whatever may or may not happen between 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. There is also my lack of initiative to “get ahead”. I don’t want to climb any “corporate ladder”, and some managers see this as a reason to fire employees. There is also the tentative profitability of the company I work for, and their need for experienced technical support represntatives. There is also the competative market in which the home I am currently renting resides, with the very real possibility of very steep rent increases in the coming years. With my current outstanding debt, I am in no position to attempt to purchase a house to live in in the interim; where would a down payment come from?
There is also the possibility that without the internet, the movies, and cable TV, that I will go stir crazy and start doing one or more of those things again, slowing everything down. I seem to be enamored with books and creative outlets lately though, and believe that I can keep at least the creativity side of that up indefinitely. If I run out of contemporary books, I may finally reach the point where I can read “literature” and stay interested. That would be handy. To be well-read.
I find lately that I am word-rich. People say hi to me online, and after just a couple of introductory statements, I am expounding at great length upon whatever topic has come up. Pages and pages of text, every day, just chatting with a couple of people online. Then activity in the forums, and posts here as well, and I begin to feel very positively about my ability and drive to write, write, write. Every night when I go to bed (alright, nearly every night), I find myself wanting to grab my laptop and write something down, or gosit at my typewriter and smash out a story. Not a little while before bedtime, not when I get tired, but after I have changed for bed, brushed and flossed my teeth, turned out all the lights and off all the electronics and crawled into bed. At that very last moment before I start getting ready for the next day (that is: actually going to sleep), my mind decides that the current day was not productive enough, and would I please get up and create just one more thing?
This can be frustrating. Especially this week. This week, I’m trying to get myself in the habit of going to bed earlier and earlier and waking up earlier and earlier, in preperation for next week. For the first time since I started working here in January of 2000, I am able to work the schedule I requested. I will be working the early shift, from 6AM to 3PM for the first time in years. The company I worked at last had me on a shift that ended at 10PM, and this one has always had me on the closing shift. First because I was new, then because the other technicians had classes in the evenings and needed off before a particular time. One of the techs in school, who had the early shift, doesn’t need to get to class until 6 now, so he agreed to switch shifts with me, and management allowed it (because he has trouble coming in that early). I will probably have trouble feeling chipper getting up around 4AM for the next week or two, but after a little while, I know it will feel even better than this sleeping lat business I’m doing now. Getting up before the sun has always felt very familiar, very right to me.
Of course, that means late nights are not an option anymore. That means I can’t even stay up late this weekend, because that would just make next week even worse. One of the really comforting things about not having a social life is that going to bed early is never a conflict of interest. Then again, if I can get in the habit of falling asleep at a reasonable time, I can start waking up extra early and get stuff done in the mornings before work. That early in the morning, it is late at night, and I have successfully been able to complete intensely creative tasks that way in the past. It is just a matter of doing it. I think it is a matter of waking before the dawn that gets me right out of bed. That transitional time between night and day, when I am just waking up, always seems like a good time to snooze a little longer. Waking up before the sun appears or around mid-morning seems more immediate.
I also need some new shoes. The ones I got for my birthday last year are falling apart, despite being Florsheim.
Back to the topic of being massively in debt: I do not feel that it would be appropriate or prudent to get married or even pursue a serious relationship with someone that could lead to marriage if one is in debt to any serious degree. (Note: I consider a serious degree of debt to be more debt than that which one could pay off in its entirety before the close of one billing cycle for that debt. I also believe that it is neither appropriate nor prudent to pursue a romantic relationship of any kind, from casual dating to “going steady” to everything else (including casual sex), if it is not with the intention of leading to marriage.) I remember, around this time last year, when I was trying to decide about how my life would progress, having trouble deciding whether or not to make my purchases major or whether to keep them small.
It was when the last person that I know of now that I would seriously consider marrying or pursuing marriage with turned me down with such certainty in her heart that I finally made up my mind about going into debt. It may have been a rash, reactionary decision, intended to force myself to be unable to pursue this person anymore, to effectively make myself even less attractive to them as a partner, and less willing to drag them down with me, but I stand by it. I did not spend the money unwisely. I bought a very high quality washer and dryer that I expect to do my laundry until a technology comes along that makes washing clothes obsolete. I bought a large hardwood bedframe that is sold and sturdy enough and high enough quality that I expect it to last at least as long as the high-quality, customizable-firmness matress/foundation that I bought, which is guaranteed to last at least twenty years. I bought a new bicycle that has needed far less repairs and replacement parts than any bicycle I have previously owned, and which gets me places faster. I bought a couch and two chair.5’s that are very comfortable recliners, as well as a coffee table and end table to go with them. I bought a dining room table and matching chairs. All reasonable purchases for things that I would otherwise not have, or would have bought lower quality alternatives for. What I did do that some would consider unwise is to make all these purchases at once, on credit.
Anyway, if and when I do settle down and get married, it will be after I settle my debts, and most of the household purchases will already have been made. These are purchases that I have made with the idea that they will satisfy not just myself, but a future partner. I’ve even found a refrigerator I’d like to get, when the need arises; the Maytag Wide-by-Side with Climate Zone. Take a look at it, if you haven’t. It seems to be very well-made, and I’m sure my future wife will be lgad to have something like it.