I have just been amusing myself perusing Apartment Therapy, the design website. At first, I was happy that they are doing a series of posts that is actually useful --- budgeting and planning and how to think about redecorating while *not* spending money. Alas, it is actually more fun to read them when they are on crack and assuming everybody should spend hundreds on updating their pillows every few months and reupholstering ugly Eames chairs and bringing in fresh store flowers every week. Then I can laugh at them and mock them, which is what I do best.
Instead, they are making posts about budgets and how much money they should be socking away in savings every month. These are things I should be doing, and then I get freaked out that I am not doing them.
First of all, they linked to (I'm tired and don't feel like showing you all their links, ok? Google 'er up if you've a mind to.) a website that suggested you need a 15,000 emergency fund. Awhaaaaa? ?!?!?!?! Ok, it has a slider bar; maybe I can have less. Let me slide this up and down a bit. Hmm. Ok, 6 months emergency funds is still a lot, no matter how conservatively you define "emergency funds." Another money planning site suggests that you build up a bare-bones minimum emergency fund of $1000 while you are in hardcore credit card paydown mode. I have ---- $100 in the savings account right now. Sigh. I guess that plus Operation Dig Out of Hole are all I can afford right now.
Then I guess it's build that EF up to crazytown levels (remember, as a grad student, 15 K was about my yearly salary. Having that much sitting around as accessible money is just insane to me). No wait, fuckit, I'm gonna take a small vacation trip this summer before building up the crazydown EF. Otherwise I will go mad. I will plan out a little budget and try to be as frugal as possible.
Then they have a bunch of posts about determining your retirement needs and nest egg (!! cue hyperventilation now!!!) and making the aforementioned monthly savings plan. (!!!!) Since I have a state plan and have been barred, as an employee in this place, from ever getting any Social Security (hahahaha fooled you lawmaker suckers; I have hardly put anything in! I've been a motherfucking grad student for 10 years!) I ... really have no clue about what that means and how much I should be planning to put away as extra or what. But I know I am doing something totally different than what they are saying about an employer 401k match. I thought I was doing good rolling over my old postdoc 401k into my IRA (lookit how well I throw around these acronyms!). I guess I need to move "go talk to the HR people about what this is" up near the top of my to-do list. Except for that bit where I had trouble with getting the HR lady, who is 23 and was hired at the same time I was, to fix a problem with my paycheck last semester. Ugh.
So I am reading down the page --- emergency fund: check! deal with it later! employer 401k match: check! figure out what the hell I have as a system later! --- and I come to some posts about talking with your parents about safety and accessibility proofing the house before they get too old and start to feel attacked by your every suggestion. Siiiiiiiiigh. Yes, this is so important and yes we all should be talking about it, personally, as families, as communities ... yeah. So, my dad has not been doing well at all, you might know, and he got pneumonia right after New Year's and has been on oxygen ever since, lugging around a tank outside and a very long cord inside. And his memory and cognitive ability have definitely gone downhill lately --- not to the point of impeding everyday survival but he is no longer logical or the brilliant man who was an engineering vp for a major company. And he didn't recognize who my niece was when I was last home.
So, in a nutshell: I am much better at mocking aspirational-living fantasy websites than dealing with reality on my own. Denial! It's a method of planning, in its own way. And maybe I would be better at confronting it if my big bro hadn't just turned 50. Gah. This whole getting older crap is bullshit.