Friday, September 01, 2006

Ten Ways We Will Save Money (without children)!

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Picture taken at 8:20 AM
Conditions: Slightly hazy due to forest fires.
Current temperature at my house: 53 degrees
Expected high: 77 degrees

I have noticed a void in my house without my two beloved children. I miss them, yes. But, I have had this wild sense of freedom that I seriously have never experienced ever before in my life.

In high school, I was involved in everything and I studied and worked hard to get good grades. College was not a let up for me. I loaded up on credits so that I could finish in three years to graduate at the same time as Dave. Financially, we struggled for two years while Dave was in graduate school and I worked to support us. Law school was no picnic for the three years after that. I worked as a law office intern during summers and the school year even when students were not supposed to hold outside jobs because of the academic heft of the curriculum.

The minute I graduated from law school we moved from Kansas City to Seattle and I started studying for the Washington State Bar Exam. It was notorious for failing people the first time. I had the disadvantage of being schooled in Kansas and Missouri law so I had three months to learn local Washington law. But I did it and I passed the first time. It was such an ordeal, I vowed to never ever take a test again. In fact, as a result, I am petrified of letting my driver's license expire.

Immediately, I was hired by a prestigious Seattle law firm as an associate. There, I worked 60-80 hours per week for the next six years. During this time, my father died and I experienced a messed-up pregnancy that made me sick for months and required two hospitalizations (someday, I will write about it). I worked through it all. But when the law firm expected me to continue the same sort of work pace once Lucas was born, I said good-bye. My goal had always been to combine career with motherhood but for me, it was not possible. I did not want nannies spending more time with my kids than me.

For 21 years, my job has been home management, at-home parent and part-time attorney/arbitrator. My husband has had an extremely demanding university career which has required him to travel. At times, he was actually gone half of every month. I remember typical stressful evenings when the kids were in middle school where Kaley needed to be at a music lesson 10 miles away, Lucas needed to be at youth symphony 10 miles away after a baseball practice, they both needed dinner and somehow I was expected to split myself into three people to handle all of it. Believe me, this was as tough as being a high-powered attorney in a big city.

Still, I am an attorney/arbitrator and two hearings are scheduled for September. But this sense of relief is fabulous. My kids sound happy. They managed to pick the perfect schools to pursue their passions. Even though both children could drive themselves, I must have been spending a good share of everyday doing "things" for them. I cannot pinpoint exactly what. Let's just say, I put down new shelf liner in my kitchen the other day!

Wow! I intended this to be a top ten list but I sidetracked myself. The top ten ways we will now save money:

1. The lights and fan in the kids' bedrooms and bathroom have been off instead of on for hours everyday.

2. The TV's are mostly off and we have only one computer going at a time.

3. I have not had to make a grocery store run for $10 Scharfenberger chocolate for Kaley's cooking projects.

4. We have been using the small French press for our morning coffee instead of the big one. Coffee beans are expensive especially if you use fair trade organic shade grown.

5. Less than half as many hot showers and baths are happening.

6. The dishwasher and the washing machine are strangely quiet.

7. Grabbing Teriyaki costs $12 instead of $24.

8. Private view dining for just the two of us in our own house is monumentally cheaper than going to a restaurant or a bed & breakfast. But if we do go out to dinner, two less "foodies" keeps the final bill much more reasonable.

9. No longer are we paying for private viola, voice, or piano lessons. It is all wrapped up in their college tuition.

10. And finally, the biggie: gasoline. Kaley does not have a car at Whitman. Lucas has his Jeep but he has free parking at his apartment complex and he bikes or takes the bus to campus. I am not making grocery store runs for last minute Scharfenberger chocolate.

And Dave never misses the bus because he is able to leave the house without being held up by a child mad at the printer because it isn't working or properly printing the homework assignment that should have been printed out the night before!

Ah, freedom.