Tuesday, August 5, 2008

invested in outcomes

Most people get a little (or more than a little) nervous when the stock market takes a downturn. But for me and my family, news of bear market territory came at an excellent time: I had just made my first (ever) payment into my 401(k). This means that my first purchase yeilded more stock than it would have otherwise, which is only good news in the long run. Bear markets don't last forever; in fact they don't even really last for very long. Even if the markets were to take a long slow slide toward the 5000 mark (perish the thought!), it's only good news for my 401(k), given that I don't expect to cash it in for at least twenty-five years. This is not to say that the current situation has me dancing in the streets: inflation is real, and I was certainly amongst the hawks who were less-than-thrilled at the fed's decision to hold interest rates. David and I have been having financial talks about credit cards, medical debt, where and how to cut costs from the daily living expenses, and how to shore our financial situation up against the slow burn that started a year ago and shows no sign of slacking off. The good news for us is that we can actually have this conversation; many folks around the country simply cannot, and it wasn't so long ago for either David or me that we counted ourselves amongst their number. But the boys are in public school, David and I are both employed in real careers, and our cars (without which we couldn't have any sort of job) are both paid off. We spend a fair amount in gasoline and daycare, granted, and these expenses aren't going to go away any time soon. We have a passion for good food, and enjoy eating and cooking in equal measure. But part of that is enjoying being at home, not being out spending money, and spending our time at the place we are already paying for each month. Far from free, but still, its a nice way to go. Entertainment in our world consists mostly of home projects, fishing and camping trips, and netflix. It is certainly not a life of deprivation. I'm looking forward to tackling the medical debt that has threatened to overtake me if I don't address it somehow. There is always something else that needs to be done, of course, but this matter has finally gotten in my sights and my goal is to clear it out of the household budget by Christmas. It's not going to be easy, but it will be imminently satisfying to show it the other side of the door. Wish me luck.