Our house, two days ago

I get these wild hairs sometimes to do something crazy. Then I am singularly focused on that idea until something snaps me out of it.

Ten+ years ago, that idea was to open up a beading business. Forget that cost of overhead was enormous– probably as much as the photography business, maybe more– and I couldn’t price things properly to make a profit. Forget that I had no business experience. It folded less than two years later, thankfully.

This week, that wild hair was to go house shopping. I am always obsessed with Zillow, that is not new. Nor is it new that I badger my poor real estate friend Dena on the near daily about some listing I’ve seen. It is not even new that I request to go see some listing in person. We’ve certainly done that before. Most of the time in these situations I am looking to capitalize fully on our equity and downsize into something that is not as nice as what we have, sometimes forcing one boy to share rooms with another. I don’t think long game very well– my long game brain is not fully developed.

No, what was new this week was that I got my house in show-ready condition and let people come through it. There was a house we decided to make an offer on, and one thing led to another, and so on. The house in question was comparable to ours except it had everything on one level, and a basement. It was a long-term house that wouldn’t have been a downgrade and would have been a forever until assisted living kind of house.

Forget the fact that we refinanced our own house in early April. Forget that our interest rate is 2.25%. Forget that we are on a 20-year term, which is a full 7 years off the term left from what we were on before. Forget that I am trying to think more long game with our money these days, as well. Forget that I love this house for no other reason than that I am completely unafraid of storms in this house because we just. don’t. hear. the noise. the same way as we did in other houses. This house is stone solid. The crawlspace is encapsulated so we don’t get moisture inside. I have painstakingly spent a LOT of time and money crafting this house to be what I want it to be, since it didn’t fit my style when we bought it.

I did all this with Jared on board. He liked the house in question, too. He had visions of a man cave in the basement there. It was a nice house.

It is likely unavailable now, and we are probably no longer letting people come into our house to potentially make an offer on ours as a pocket listing. We are pretty picky on what we want– there is one other house that is sort of on my wish list but it is an EXTREMELY long shot and I am not holding my breath that it is even a possibility.

Besides, our current next door neighbor is a surrogate grandmother to me and I would miss dearly being able to just walk out in the yard and visit with her every single day without notice.

So unless something changes dramatically in the next couple of days, we are staying put and I am going to continue to try thinking long game with our money. And our housing. Because besides me being crazy, this market is beyond crazy.

This sweet Eunie is slowly training us to her potty schedule. Currently, she desperately needs her hair cut like this again.

*sigh*

I decided to maintain the photography business as-is, but I am raising prices dramatically. I just cannot keep being the bargain photographer.

It is not an easy decision, as I like to be gracious and giving to people. I consider my photography to be part of myself, not just a job, and thus giving part of myself to my clients. It is hard to put a price tag on that at all, as I’d like to just be able to give it away to everybody.

I also know this is not the price point most of my previous clients are used to or looking for. It is also not just about the money, but the reality is photography is a luxury product and should be priced as such. I am also baking into my pricing a second photographer, and that second photographer being present at all future booked weddings will be non-negotiable. I just cannot continue to take on solo weddings.

Weddings will now be $2,800 for 8 hours of coverage, with coverage less than 8 hours being $350 an hour. Family and senior sessions will now be $275 per hour with a two hour, immediate family only limit, for 15-20 images digital delivery. I am not taking on newborn sessions at all anymore. I will not take on wedding coverage anymore for over 8 hours of coverage– my body just cannot handle it.

On one hand, part of me is afraid I will never book a photography client again, but also– I look at so many of my photography friends and they charge twice what I have just raised my prices to, starting, and are very successful doing so.

On the other hand, I am severely burned out. Photography is a big part of my personal identity and my self-care, and I cannot afford to start hating on photography– that hurts my mental health. And I was considering shutting the whole thing down, so if nobody wants to hire me at my new rates, so be it.


I have been on a downward spiral because of my SSDI status and my inability to work full-time, but the thought occurred to me this morning…..I could have sat around until too much time had passed, when I applied in 2011, and could have waited until I was not eligible for SSDI at all anymore due to too much time having passed since I worked full-time, and thus been ineligible for benefits. I did not do that and it has benefitted my family tremendously. So it really is nonsense, this negative self-talk that I tell myself, that voice which says that I do not do anything financially to contribute to my family’s well-being. At the very least, I have arranged for finances to be such that I can cover the spendaholic condition I have allowed myself to be in for so very long.


I was considering selling part of my gear, but I have backed off that idea entirely now. Even were I to sell the whole getup, it would be barely enough to buy a used GFX 50S medium format camera from KEH, and I know myself well enough to know that I would probably want three lenses to go along with it. Not to mention the fact that the 50S is a first-generation of its kind, and it would be wise to wait it out. Plus, my X-H1 does exactly what I need it to, and does it well– I love the second generation processor of the X series and I have zero desire to “upgrade” to an X-T3 or X-T4, with their shallower hand grips.

I won’t probably use the zooms for personal work and I may do my best to not use them for the upcoming weddings, either, but I change my mind on a lark. It would positively suck to have to go out and buy those zooms again– I already bought the 16-55mm f2.8 twice already, when I sold it the first time along with my old X-T1. I am trying to escape my scarcity mindset and think smarter about our money decisions.

That’s all for now.

love, Caroline

So.

There are changes afoot.

First, finances:

It may seem like not-rocket science for our family to live on one income since I don’t bring in much money, but we have definitely spent most of what I bring in monthly, as well.

Last week, I decided and brought forth the idea to Jared about the idea of us living on just his salary. I worked on next month’s budget, and we can do it except for like $100 or so out of my SSDI check moving forward, even as we pay down our current debt.

I know this is not rocket science. It is a shift of mindset for me, though. I have always lived with a scarcity mindset, which has brought me to spend every last penny we brought in most months.

I am determined to build up our emergency fund. Ultimately, I think I would like to have a rental house since I like looking at real estate so much. And we could build up a 20% downpayment in 6-7 years if we lived on just J’s salary. We could also do a lot more for the boys in that time, as well.

I am also considering paring down my photo gear collection. I’ve pretty much gotten to where I only use the zooms on wedding days, and I don’t enjoy them when I do use them. I am not for sure on paring down the gear; should probably sit on that 6 months or so and actually use what I intend to use for the next couple of weddings.

Speaking of weddings and photography:

Y’all, burnout is real and I am feeling it. It has been one of the highest honors of my life to photograph the weddings I have photographed. However, I am going to start evolving Caroline Price Photography to be exclusively a portrait business moving forward. I have three weddings on the calendar between now and March of 2022 and I am not going to be scheduling any more for the foreseeable future.

I got to the point last week where I just wanted to shut down the whole business and be done with it. But I don’t think it needs to be that drastic. Basically, I am doing away with my marketing budget and letting the business grow organically from this point moving forward. If it grows, great, if not, that’s fine, as well. I am not forcing the issue or pouring more money into it than is absolutely necessary for maintenance at this point.

I miss personal photography. I miss taking pictures at Johnny Jackson’s studio. I miss doing the things that made me love photography and y’all, I have not been doing them. I get so caught up in my calendar and client work and feeling like I should be booking and making this a full-time gig that I forget to enjoy the gear I have, the gear I have painstakingly spent hours upon hours researching and pining away over and all that foolishness. There is always the latest and greatest (I am looking at you GFX 50S) but really, my stuff is awesome and that is because I have good, solid taste in gear. It performs well and it was a process to curate. I miss just getting in the car with no destination in mind, with the camera in my hand.

I am also becoming more selfish with my time. I want to spend time growing this blog, and exercising more and focusing more on nutrition, and have weekends with the boys. I do not want the pressure of feeling like I have to maintain a certain level of income so that I can work myself off SSDI. It’s too much pressure. It would be different if we couldn’t maintain our current lifestyle on Jared’s salary alone. But, we can. And I would argue, for our family’s sake, we probably should.

There are other changes:

I set a hard boundary last week.

There are some people I will not photograph for, no matter whether it’s a paid gig or not.

My photography, my work, is of my heart. Sometimes I make money with it, more often I choose to give it as a gift. But my photography is not for people who have deeply wounded me to the point that I no longer have functional relationships with them.

Two months ago, I would have said, “Sure, I’ll do this ‘whatever’ photography project for you,” to any number of about three people in the world. Probably.

But now, I know that there are three people I will never do photo jobs for. Two are exes. One is a former best friend.

I took care of myself last week. Ten years ago….six months ago…. I would never have set that boundary. I would have photographed the job, told myself I had zero expectations, and completely lied to myself as to whether I expected rekindling of friendships/ whatever.

But I stood up for myself and set that boundary, and I feel stronger for it.

My photography is of my heart. If I choose to share it with you, it is because I love or respect you or feel I can work with you in some capacity, whether money is involved in the equation or not.

And, my heart is not for sale.

So ever since I ordered that posture corrector from Berlin & Daughter, I have been making an effort to watch my upper back posture. My upper body strength and posture is terrible. I attribute this to the years of depression and not exercising, laying around in bed feeling sorry for myself. However, despite the progressing scoliosis, I can indeed still hold myself upright and straighten out my ribs on my left side to a certain extent. So, even sitting in the recliner (which has a setting to incline the top half more upright), I am doing what I can to watch my posture.

This week was rough snack-wise because there were goodies around from last weekend’s birthday celebration for Liam. I mostly resisted the cookies and only had one piece of cake. One morning I was feeling particularly sorry for myself and went whole hog on the Cheetos and Doritos, but one morning wasn’t the end of the world AND I did log everything I ate, in spite of myself. So far, even though I have ditched Noom, I am starting to lose a little. By a little, I mean maybe two to four-tenths of a pound at a time. I still consider that a win.

I am logging everything I eat in MyFitnessPal Premium and I’m doing my best to meet my carbs, protein, and fat percentage goals. The days that I achieve those goals or close to them are at the days I feel the best physically. I am starting to crave less sugar and less cheese. In fact, I already ordered Domino’s for the kids for dinner and while two garlic knots are in my dinner plans, actual pizza is not.

What has surprised me most about changing my diet is how little protein I must have been getting before. It has surprised me how much better I feel the days I have at least a serving and a half of my protein powder– right now I am using Whey Blend from Elevation from Aldi. I have always thought of protein powder as being only for people who want to bulk up, but I am actually noticing my tummy fat disappearing a little more since I started the protein powder daily, sometimes twice a day depending on what else I eat.

Water intake continues to be a struggle and I know most days I am still not hitting my water goal and I know if I did I would feel even better. There is no good answer to this except to keep drinking water.

We paid off my computer early. I have mixed feelings about this as perhaps it would have been more wise to keep making the payments and pay off other debt early given that the interest was 0% on the installment plan from Apple, but while I love my computer, I was loving less and less each month making payments on a computer that is only getting older. Don’t get me wrong, I expect this machine to last me five years, maybe longer. But to pay on a full 20% of that time is a long time to be making payments, even at 0% interest. So, in the interest of having less debt and outright owning all of my gear, as well as taking a psychological load off so to speak, we paid it off. It did mean draining a lot of savings to do so, but hopefully we can make up that output fairly quickly.

This payoff means we officially have no credit card debt. We have one small personal loan that is from consolidating credit card debt, and we have a personal loan that is the refi of Jared’s car (we didn’t exactly research car refinance as well as we did for the Chrysler refi and unfortunately the interest rate reflects that fact, but oh well), and we have the soon to be refinanced Chrysler loan. And the house payment. That’s it.

In addition to using YNAB as a budget software and checkbook register, I have been using Status Money to track things like our net worth and how our finances stack up against other Status Money users. Status is a pay what you want software, and I pay $1 a month for the deal. I end up re-categorizing transactions that are imported from our checking account a lot, as the software is not great at recognizing what category should be in what. But I love that it gives me percentages of what we spend on what, and how that compares to what others spend, as well as how all of it compares to national averages. There is a forum to interact with other users, but it’s not super high quality so I don’t pay much attention to that. It tracks net worth and you can input the value of all your assets, and track net worth over time.

I am becoming disillusioned with Facebook and just uninstalled the app from my phone. I enjoy keeping up with people, but I find myself compulsively doom-scrolling for just no reason at all and I don’t even notice I’ve picked up my phone to do it until I have gone down the feed for several minutes. It’s just not healthy. I am more interested in Reddit these days, as it gives me communities of my choice….I am part of the simple living, and the blogging, and the personal and poverty finance communities. Twitter is also awesome for connecting with like-minded people. The Bloggess family is the best mental health community on Twitter is the best mental health support group I have ever seen.

That’s all for today.

love, Caroline

5/28/21

Bush by the garage is currently blooming.

May 31 marks five years ago that we bought our house.

For all the bellyaching I do about having a master on the second story, moving into this house really did mark a change for our household– financially, emotionally, and socially; stability-wise.

I have all kinds of emotions when I think back to where we were when we bought this house.

Due to the bankruptcy and trying to short-sell our old house instead of foreclosing, the bank had turned around and offered us a loan modification to make the mortgage at the time more affordable. Sure, it made it more affordable. But it turned it into a 40-year loan that couldn’t be refinanced.

The old house….

I brought two of my three babies home to that house, but there were all kinds of crazy emotions tied to it, mostly around my having stopped being able to work while we lived in that house. We bought that house when we thought I would retire from Fernbank, and that at least one of us would always be working in Atlanta. We severely underestimated how much we would be doing in Carrollton. So, besides the finance side of things, being in Villa Rica was not very convenient.

Then this house came along and for all I have felt like I was pressured into buying this house over the years, I really did like it. Seeing a two year old Oliver playing in the back yard (something he was unable to do at our old house) really sealed the deal for this house. It was all brick, something that was a high priority for me at the time. The yard….I already said it but our yard is so big.

I have a hard time keeping all of it clean at the same time, but that just goes with the territory of depression, I think.

Today, I am just filled with gratitude. Gratitude that we have a beautiful home, that we are in a 20-year mortgage instead of being stuck with what would now be 33 years left to go on a mortgage….Jared has a good job, I have a good part-time gig, and our boys love their home and having their own spaces. I shudder to think what the past five years would have been like for Porter in particular, if he’d still had to share a room with Liam all these years.

For all I like to look at Zillow, and give hell to Dena about other listings I see, this is home. I am SO incredibly grateful.

My car is happy again. And Newnan Chrysler Dodge Jeep is awesome. I even come away having waited half the day today for my car and still say that.

Turns out, my Pacifica has two batteries even though it is not even a hybrid. And, the secondary battery had gone out, which in turn drained the primary battery. It is back to auto start-stopping happily when I putter down the road. Happily, it was a warranty repair.

I caved to a Facebook ad last night. I ordered one of those posture correctors from Berlin & Daughter. I’m only sorry it won’t arrive in time for Sunday’s wedding, because my back could use the extra support. Oh well. Here’s to hoping it was at least a tolerable purchase, even if it won’t work miracles on my progressing scoliosis.

I drew a boundary and cut the ex off Facebook (again) last week and I’ve had all kinds of emotions since then. Mostly, incredulity at myself that I can’t just leave the past in the past. And incredulity that someone (the ex) can be so childish at 43 years old.

Forget him. I need to be more gentle with myself.

It’s a wedding weekend. Time to charge batteries tomorrow. And get a pedicure and brow wax at Indulge tomorrow. And go to a wedding rehearsal.

I have a hate/ hate relationship with the CPAP.

It has been terrible. First, it was causing a rash on my face (I have the full face mask on purpose; I requested it). Then, I solved that issue, and now at random times in the night I will yank it off my face and not remember it in the morning. Thankfully, I made it 7 hours with it on before I yanked it off at 3:55 AM this morning, but I have had mornings where I wake up and apparently yanked it off two hours after I went to bed.

I don’t particularly love falling asleep with it, but it is terrible waking up with the thing on, whether it is subconsciously in the night or even if I manage to make it the whole night with it on.

Oh, and the car ups and downs…..

It all started because I realized our credit was better now than when we bought our Pacifica. So, the first thought was to refinance the Pacifica loan into a better interest rate, thus lowering our monthly payment, which has been pretty ghastly at $644 a month now for nearly three years.

But, upon investigating trade-in values on Carvana, they were willing to give us over $27,000 as a trade-in value. So the thought occurred that we could just do away with the van and take on a different car.

HA. Then I went dealership hopping. Jared and I went to Scott Evans Chrysler Dodge Jeep last Saturday with the thought that we might invest in a new Pacifica Hybrid, screw the lower payment idea. However, if you are local, do not go here under pretty much any circumstances. We bought the Pacifica from this dealership and we knew from that experience that it was kind of a shady place, but we went last Saturday and I had called ahead of time and we were given a specific salesperson’s name to ask for. There was a sales guy milling about outside when we arrived, but he told us he couldn’t help us because we’d been given someone else’s name; that he’d get in trouble if he helped us. So he sat us at the person’s desk, and there was a random driver’s license, registration, and insurance card left at this desk unattended in front of us. Like 4 different employees came to get various things off this desk, and none of them addressed the unattended license issue or bothered to ask if we were being helped. After 15 minutes of sitting there, I finally convinced Jared that we should leave. So, we walked out. The girl called me back and was like where are you, and I explained we had been there and what had happened. But yeah….we won’t even go for service to this dealership. I have an appointment for a tire rotation at the Chrysler dealership in Newnan tomorrow.

So anyway…..after the Chrysler dealership debacle, I got online. I got Nalley Honda to match what Carvana was offering on trade in, but they took too long to figure out delivery. There was an entertaining back and forth on the situation on Facebook. It’s just as well that it didn’t work out, as one of the engine lights is now on on the Pacifica. That’s the other reason I am going to Newnan tomorrow.

All of this to say that the refinance we’d started over a week ago, we finally figured out how to proceed with. So our monthly payment will go down to $493 for the remaining term, a much more comfortable figure. And score for a 2.24% interest rate, which is much better than the 5.19% we had.

And, best of all, I don’t have to give up my beloved Pacifica. Because I do love her.

Written Friday morning:

*sigh*

I am officially making the decision to forgive 15-year old me for making a terribly bad decision to get involved with bad news.

As a codependent, there are just some things in my life that I will always deal with. One of them is feeling responsible for my high school boyfriend’s life and how it is turning out, which is not great. This, despite the fact that I have been married to someone else for 16+ years now.

I started to write about what trash he is (because while I hate to refer to a person as “trash….” I like to think that all people are redeemable at some point, it is healthier for me at the moment to remember that he is not my responsibility and to put some distance there). But, this is about me.

I have long fantasized that if only this person could get his shit together, then he could live into the dreams I had for him once upon a time. Even if it meant that we had long gone our separate ways and he went on to be with someone else, as I have.

This is about me, and my dreams. And, that dream needs to die now.

I have attempted to be a good friend to him in more recent years. He has proven incapable of reciprocating. I overlooked and overcompensated for those deficiencies, going back to the old feelings of responsibility. I have let myself get hurt time and again because he refuses to reciprocate my efforts at friendship. I am not sure that it is malicious or whether it is purposefully manipulative; it is entirely possible that he is literally incapable of true friendship.

I am responsible for myself only. I am sorry for the state of his life, but I am ready to move on and embrace my present reality: a reality which is full of love and care and genuine friends and family.


Written Saturday night:

Another asshole who used to have his way with me played Elton John when he was doing his thing. I’ve mostly let that one go, but one of the trigger songs came on the radio tonight on the way home and put me in a serious kind of sad mood. Thankfully, Jared knows exactly what to do to bring me back to present day. He found “A Knight’s Tale,” one of my all-time favorite movies. And Trixie, Porter’s dog, decided to choose me to tackle tonight while we watched the movie. So thank goodness, I can go to bed with a mind back in a peaceful state.

It is a season for being really gentle with myself. And, for picking up the camera for some true photo therapy.

love, Caroline

I’ve started a couple of posts here only to abandon them mid-draft. I haven’t felt much like writing.

So, I have moderate-almost severe obstructive sleep apnea. I got a cpap machine last week. Instead of sleeping 12-14-15 hours a night, I am now sleeping 7-10 and feeling much better in general. The jury is still out but I think the cpap may make losing weight easier, as well. It has helped with the depression, for sure.

I’ve been getting up when the boys get ready for school and several mornings I have taken Oliver to school because he likes to get there earlier than Porter and Liam are ready to leave the house. I am focusing on discipline over motivation.

Eunie, Eunie, Eunie…. she has been a big focus for us this past couple of weeks. She had a dental where they removed a couple of teeth and she has recovered fine from that. But she also had several growths removed– from her neck, chest, and leg. She got the staples out from her incisions on Sunday, but she split the incision on her neck, which meant we switched from using her collar to her harness. She definitely prefers walking with the harness. I think she likes it because it means she has nothing on her when she is in the house. She is starting to be more playful and loving toward us. I hope it means she is starting to feel more at home.

I posted on Facebook that I was going to start seriously posting about finances in an effort to curb spending.

Yeah, about that.

So, ten+ years ago, my spending was out of control. We didn’t know how to budget– I’d for sure never been taught about budgeting aside from a rudimentary 1-lesson fake budget in college that meant nothing at the time because I wasn’t instructed to apply it to my personal circumstances.

I have always blamed myself for our having to declare bankruptcy in 2012, but Jared says my spending wasn’t the problem. The fact that I was unable to care for the kids due to my mental health circumstances, meaning we had to place two children under the age of 6 in daycare full-time, was the problem. Our wonderful friends who ran the daycare were as flexible with us as they could be, but ultimately, daycare bills went onto the credit cards.

It wasn’t just the financial side; these years were filled with deep shame for me. What kind of mother was I that I couldn’t care for my children? What was really wrong with me that I couldn’t care for them at home during the day? If I couldn’t care for the kids and I couldn’t go out and make a living to contribute to the household, what in the world was I doing with my life? What was my purpose?

Thankfully, Jared just wanted to love me. That love probably saved me in those years because there were some very dark days.

At the time, I just threw my hands up and told myself I wasn’t good with babies and toddlers and that they were better off at the daycare. At the time, these things were true. I was working a lot of stuff out, dealing with a wonk thyroid as yet undiscovered, mostly in a bad therapy situation, apparently dealing with undiagnosed sleep apnea, and hadn’t found the psych medications that worked for me yet. I was going from being an extremely spoiled only child thrust into the role of mother to two, and I didn’t take on that role gracefully at all. The big boys benefitted from the stability of a loving situation that was like family at daycare. I do not regret that decision one little bit.

Fast forward to July of 2013, and I find out I’m pregnant. I panicked and I’m pretty sure Jared held his cool publicly but wasn’t sure for real– what the hell would happen?

Thankfully, we found out about my thyroid issues shortly after Oliver was born. I was followed closely by my psychiatrist the entire pregnancy, started my psych meds the day Oliver was born, and all was well. Jared resumed night duty one last time so I could be a normal person during the day, and Oliver and I did just fine by ourselves during the day. I love all of my children equally, but the experience of keeping Oliver at home during his baby and toddler years was so therapeutic and validating. I had the mothering instinct in me after all.

So, no full-time daycare for O, just some drop-in days. And no fear of out of control credit card spending that we couldn’t manage due to daycare bills from an essentially one-income household.

We took Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey literally while we were in bankruptcy, before it was even discharged. The idea of a zero-based budget was so foreign, so scary to me. Jared discovered You Need a Budget, or YNAB, at roughly the same time. I started logging every last penny we spent in YNAB in late 2012 and have never, ever looked back. At the time, it was standalone software. It has since become subscription-based and I locked in a lifetime rate when they first went subscription. YNAB has at least taught me to see where our money is going.

Financial Peace taught zero-based budgeting but frankly, it scared the hell out of me and put me in a bad place mentally in relation to credit use and debt. Jared doesn’t buy into Dave Ramsey and despite the fact that I was brainwashed into buying into it, Jared is working on changing my mindset currently. That’s not to say that we want to carry debt or be irresponsible. But for starters, $1,000 is not enough of an emergency fund for homeowners who are a family of five. I cannot tell you how many times over the past eight or nine years I have drained that $1,000 emergency fund in literally two days due to unforeseen expenses. I mean, the alternative would have been terrible, but that minimum emergency fund should be at least $5,000 in our case.

Also– saving while paying down debt should be a higher priority, which Dave Ramsey disagrees with. The tactic we are currently taking is to refinance all our debt into lower interest rates, to save money while we pay down debt AND save. This wasn’t an option for us in 2012 because our credit scores were trash. But this year, we have refinanced the house into 2.25% for 20 years, and we are currently in the process of refinancing my van from a 5.16% loan into a 2.24% loan for roughly the same 3 year term left. Our house payment is higher than before but it is a real mental load off to know that we will have the whole thing paid off in 20 years AND watching the principal go down faster every month is a real esteem boost. The van refinance, though, will see us having about $160 extra to save or put toward other debt monthly.

I said something in a Facebook post about embarrassing myself out of spending, but my spending isn’t out of control when I am happy and busy. I only shop when I am bored and depressed. The boredom and depression is the real issue. I am driven and determined in our finances when life is going well in my world. And even then, my spending is really only an ancillary issue (at least now that I’ve gotten the kinks worked out of my photo system). We can afford for me to go to Gallery Row every day of the week to get out of the house if it means I don’t go buying randomness other times.

The real drawback to us being able to really sock away savings is the fact that we currently have two car payments. I cannot regret those decisions at the time, but we will likely do whatever we have to do to only have one car payment at the time for Jared and myself. It may be that we have other car payments once the boys are driving age, though Porter will inherit Jared’s car just about the time it is paid off, so there’s that.

That’s all for now. Oh, and I am slightly obsessed with my new Showit blog.

love, Caroline

The thing about depression is it is still there, even when medicine appears to be working.

It doesn’t matter what the target of my angst has been this week. Toward the end of the week I became non-functional. Thank goodness for video therapy, because it allowed my therapist to see me as I really am, instead of a fake facade I might otherwise have put up for an hour with her if I had to go to her office. (Worse yet– If I had had to go to her office yesterday, I would have cancelled and would likely still be in bed.) I was real with her, and at the end of the hour I wasn’t quite ready to face the world but I was ready to see my Mama and Daddy and get out of the house. And most importantly, to stay out of the bed the rest of the day.

And my brand of depression rarely results in feeling suicidal. I mostly just want to disappear and be unconscious. Which is precisely what I did with my day on Thursday; I disappeared into my bed and did my best to not be awake. I disappeared from social media and offloaded all my responsibilities to Jared. Willing myself to disappear did not work, of course, nor did the willing myself to be unconscious result in much sleep.


I am ready to get real with acceptance of my self-image and where I’m at both in my career and in my body’s condition, even as I work consistently to improve both. I want to change my internal dialogue, which has always been pretty damn harsh.

I went to a newborn studio workshop last week and the day was wonderful. Those ladies work SO hard and have amazing results to show for it. It was great to spend the day around an impressive group of photographers. Good for my soul.

I also learned through that experience that I do not want a studio for myself. I came to the realization that I want my first floor to be ready to be a consultation space for clients, but I do not have the drive or desire in my art to be a studio photographer. I want to know how to manipulate the lights, but I am always going to defer to parents to hold and position a newborn– I have no desire to do the posing myself. Newborns stressed me out when I had them for myself, and other people’s newborns stress me out, as well. I like photographing primarily outside, or at least in good light. And that is A-Okay. I know talented people to refer folks to for studio requests.


And can we talk about finances for a minute?

Nearly 10 years ago, Jared and I took Financial Peace with Dave Ramsey at church. It was ingrained that heavy credit card debt was evil. That we should keep our savings at a minimum until we have the debt paid off. That we should always have a budget. That car payments are bad.

We’ve gotten pretty good at the budgeting part. However, we’ve determined for ourselves that having a minimal savings account just does not work……$`1,000 is not enough to keep ourselves out of hot water with the credit cards. In fact, just this morning I paid off medical bills that were over $650 in total…..I was able to do this because there was more than $1k in savings. Other months where I’d been shoving money at credit cards, that money would have been gone on pay day.

So despite the fact that we have a small credit card balance at the moment, we will be focused on building a minimum of 3 months’ worth of expenses in savings before we pay anything other than about $100 per month– not the minimum, but not nearly what I would normally choose to put toward debt payments. Though truthfully, that may well be enough to pay these particular balances off in that time anyway, but still.

When we took Financial Peace, I needed a good shaking up and to learn to budget. But, the spend cycle was not entirely broken with that class, just as it hadn’t been entirely broken with the declaring of bankruptcy.

What is working now is seeing the numbers of what will happen (fairly quickly, too) if we start saving as our focus. It stopped me from ordering canvases this afternoon. A YNAB blog article (I think it was YNAB but I can’t find the post now) phrased it well when it talked about savings as buying time. I had never thought of it that way before. But just this morning, I thought about buying the 4 canvases I want for the family room wall. The total was going to be roughly $200 for the quality canvas I want, for the four of them. I stopped myself when I realized I would have to stretch the budget in ways we really shouldn’t right now, and I realized there are always other months to buy those canvases… the wall doesn’t look particularly bad as it is right now.

So, savings = buying time is a game changer for me. I’ll be applying that principle as a sort of litmus test to any future impulse purchases. I used to keep a wish list in Google Keep, in my list keeper, and I’ve been neglecting that list because I would just buy whatever, whenever. Which leads quickly to credit card debt.

I’m pretty bummed because Jared is pretty anti-Dave Ramsey, both for his political leanings and from the practical standpoint of seeing how it didn’t really lead to us building savings in any sort of reasonable time frame. I had hoped to put the boys in a Financial Peace class when they were each in high school. However, I think a better use of time and money is to get them set up and using YNAB for themselves, to get used to budgeting and saving.