Monday, 3 September 2012

Penny for my thoughts

As anyone who's awake knows, the current economic situation in the western world is between not great and utterly shit. As anyone who's ever been a student/unemployed/unemployable knows, sitting on one's arse all day in PJs, eating crackers and drinking whatever liquid is the first one you find in your fridge, is usually conducive to thinking about these things and ending up becoming a little depressed.

This is not, however, going to be a depressing post. It's more of a rumination around financial worries, taking the good things into account, and looking on the bright side. This is the first time a PJ day has resulted in such a sunny side up frame of mind, so I figured writing it down was a good plan (and will possibly provide a kick up the bum should a more negative lazy weekend in the future result in a potential downer).

Right now, with my new job and secure house, I'm not really in a position to moan anyway, even if I felt like it. Everyone is having to tighten their belts and yes, while I earn considerably less than I used to, and it's stressful to count every single dollar, the fact of the matter is that I have a job and I have the potential to not be broke. I'm just impatient because I want my finances to be balanced now, and I'm terrible for stressing over what might happen, rather than the actual situation I'm in (not just in monetary terms, but for everything). I just need to make sure I have enough to take care of the dogs and cat, keep up with the bills, eat reasonably healthily, and suck up the fact that we can't really go out to socialise for the rest of this year if we plan on visiting England for Christmas. The reason I'm stressed, if I'm honest, is just that the bills seem never-ending: as soon as I get back to a balanced figure, something else comes up: house tax, health insurance, car tax, pet tax, home maintenance - you name it, we're probably getting taxed on it, and all before the end of the year. If I could just overcome the seemingly constant stream of bills for things we already have (oh, poor me), I could break even, start saving again, and feel less panicky about the whole thing.

But it's then that I need to look more objectively at my situation, and not see it as ignoring the problem, but more being pragmatic about it. There's no point in me worrying and worrying about the bills that WILL come, because the fact of the matter is that I WILL deal with them. Eventually things will work out, even if it's over a longer time period than I would ideally like, and then there will probably be something else for me to worry about anyway - so standby for that blog post, ha ha!


  1. I feel exactly like you... at the moment my finances are a complete mess. I know things will get better - but students who I was counting on carrying on with lessons from this month suddenly deciding they don't want to continue really doesn't help. But I usually find a way to deal with things. It's just sometimes things are just too tight for comfort: returning from Berlin in the middle of August to realise I had only €20 to see me through to the end of the month for exampe, not good!

  2. Yeah, it's not fun! Like you, I know things will get better and I'm focusing on the future, less strained times when all will be evened out. It's inevitable that after big changes or job switching that money may become scarcer for a while, because of new outgoings or surprise expenses. I still don't like it, and the 'too tight for comfort' thing is definitely something I'm not enjoying.

    To 2013, I guess?! :)

  3. Well getting established in another country is tough. I gave up a relatively comfortable income in the UK. At the moment I live off various internet projects and have (fingers crossed!) secured a (low paid) part-time job. My income has been up and down, but there have been times when my wife and I have been living between pay cheques with almost nothing in the bank for several days. I lived a pretty Bohemian life when I was in my twenties, but then I was fairly comfortable (by my standards!)from my early 30s onwards. Not easy going back to Bohemian when you're in your mid-40s like I am now! :-)

    1. ps We also have a teenage daughter to look after!

  4. Paul, I can't imagine having dependents as well - other than our menagerie, of course!

    Congrats on the part-time job. What will you be doing? I guess I should probably try to monetize the stuff I do online, as I do quite a lot. I've just been approached by InterNations who want to feature QE on their USA blogs page, but I reckon that'll be a freebie! Maybe advertising? Who knows!

    We're definitely living pay cheque to pay cheque right now. Ben is employed pretty much full-time, but not in his specialist field and not anywhere near a post-graduate salary (he has a BA and and MA in English), and I've gone from a decent teacher's salary to a much lower hourly rate plus anything I earn for my photography business, which is subject to a lot more tax. Fun! But it's working out, slowly, and I am grateful for what we do have.

    I've never been brave enough to be Bohemian... Was it fun the first time around? :)

    1. To earn anything online you tend to have to write pretty dry stuff, like reviews of products - it's hard to earn more than a few dollars from something fun like a personal blog(!) I like writing my From Sheep to Alligators blog, but it's not an earner, that's for sure! :-)

      I saw that you'd been contacted by InterNations. I used to work with a Dutch-based expats site, but they folded suddenly - they were a very good site, but I couldn't never work out what their business plan was!

      I worked for the library service in the UK. I was about 2/3 of the way up the career ladder, but the job I'm in the running for here is stacking shelves(!) I could apply for higher up posts though, if I got it, as pretty much all of the vacancies advertised by the County Libraries are applications from internal candidates only!

    2. I'm pretty sure I *could* write pretty dry stuff, it's just whether I'd have the motivation to do so, especially for a few dollars more (even though every dollar counts, of course!).

      I enjoy writing QE far more, or rather, in more ways, than I imagined I would do when I started it. I thought that it would be a good way to do a regular mass update for family and friends, as well as to document the things that happened here for me, but it's ended up being an outlet and shown me how much I enjoy writing.

      I'm excited to be featured on InterNations! I'm reasonably active on British Expats (, although less so now I'm here, unless I have a specific question. I'm interested to see how a non-British expat website functions as a more global community. Sorry to hear that the site you worked with folded. It seems the lack of a business plan may have played a part in that?!

      I worked as a teacher in the UK, but not far up the ladder at all (by choice as well as sometimes by circumstance - I wanted to stay in the classroom, and I didn't feel I was manager material back then, as I tried to please everyone too much). I'm not qualified to teach here, at least in public schools, but I was happy to have a change of career. I sort of wish I had been one of those people who always knew what they wanted to do, but it seems that every time I've done a 'dream' job, although I enjoy elements of it, it's never quite the dream I imagined. Or maybe I'm just getting more realistic/older?! In any case, I *am* really enjoying my receptionist job at the vet, so I feel very fortunate to be there.

      How frustrating that the higher up jobs are internal only. Could you sneak your résumé in somehow?! Will you be stacking library shelves, or do you mean more commercially? Good luck for it!


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.