The “I Can’t Afford It” Excuse

About a month ago, a new neighbor moved in across the street from my parents. His driveway is directly in line with the driveway of my parents’ next-door neighbors.

The "I Can't Afford It" ExcuseOne day while visiting, I was sitting at the kitchen table, and I watched in horror as this new neighbor backed his truck into the mailbox next-door. It was like it was happening in slow motion.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual occurrence. Someone hit my parents’ mailbox a little while ago. The mailboxes are all the way at the curb, positioned a little weirdly, making it all too easy to hit them.

Even worse, you have to have a specific mailbox, it’s a community standard. Of course, they’re not cheap. They’re all metal, and it costs $200 to replace.

They’re also cemented into the ground, so you have to get someone to pour concrete and then stick the post in.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see how much of a hassle this is.

“I can’t afford to fix it…”

Which is why I was surprised when news came that he once again managed to hit their mailbox a few weeks ago. Pretty sure that was twice in less than a month!

As we were outside talking to the next-door neighbors, they were visibly upset. These are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and no one has seen them so mad before!

It turns out the first time the mailbox was damaged, they spoke to the new neighbor, and told him they would be willing to take $80 for repairs, a hefty discount from $200.

I can’t afford that,” the new neighbor replied, handing over only $60.

Being the nice people they are, they accepted that and walked away. But this time, there was going to be a price to pay.

They ended up filing a complaint with maintenance, and he’s being billed directly for the services. They don’t have to listen to his excuses.

Let me give you a brief overview of why I think this is a load of bull.

In the month he’s been here, this new neighbor has purchased:

  • Storage space for his boat as it’s not allowed in the driveway
  • A fancy golf cart
  • A scooter
  • He had a classic car delivered (I think he owned it, it just made the move separately)
  • 8 palm trees ($260/each, plus installation)

He also owns an adorable dog that he can’t be bothered to leash so I kind of want to steal her if she ever lands near my parents’ house. (Joking…maybe.)

All of this (and plenty more), and he has the nerve to tell them he can’t afford it?! Yeah, okay. If that’s truly the case, maybe you shouldn’t have gone out and purchased all that crap!

To be fair, everyone in their community is either retired or working toward it. Golf carts are all the rage down there, but I still don’t see why you would need 4 different vehicles to choose from (including his regular truck)…

In any case, everyone is very unhappy with this guy. You can’t really screw over super nice neighbors and get away with it. He should have owned up to his mistake, and paid for it. Or at least offered to pay the rest when he could. I just couldn’t believe he managed to hit the mailbox again so soon! Wouldn’t you be looking out for it?

That time I said I can’t afford it…

I have to admit, I am guilty of using this phrase too, albeit in a different way. I would never try to use it as an excuse to get out of paying for something that I rightfully should.

I do say it when I don’t want to buy something. That doesn’t really make sense, right? R had to correct me on this weeks ago.

“Let’s go out to eat!”

“No, we can’t afford it.”

“Yes we can, you just don’t want to spend the money.”

It made wonder why I always default to saying that. It’s true – technically, we can afford it, but I choose not to spend my money on certain things.

Sadly, I think it comes from so many years of my mom saying it. Any time we went shopping, and I wanted something: “We can’t afford it.” It was clear we were there to only get what was on the list, and nothing more. That phrase was beaten into my head, and I felt guilty ever asking for (or receiving) anything.

In my parent’s case, they really couldn’t afford to buy more. It wasn’t an excuse. They were living paycheck to paycheck and in debt.

Thus, the “we can’t afford it” mentality made its way into my head over the years. I am plagued by the feeling of not having enough, when in actuality, I do. I’m just haunted by what my parents went through.

It’s definitely part of a bigger problem (I have a rather unhealthy relationship with money), but I’m trying to address it piece by piece.

No longer will I say we can’t afford something (unless it’s a brand new car or a house; those are out of our reach right now!), but I will acknowledge that I’m not willing to spend my money on it because I have other priorities.

Truthfully, I felt a little ashamed once I stepped back and thought about it. By saying I couldn’t afford things, I was doing a disservice to those who are in a much worse situation than me. We have a decent amount of savings, I just don’t like to think about it since I don’t like parting with money. But it’s there if we seriously need it, so I need to stop acting like it would be a sin to spend.

By saying we have better things to spend our money on, I’m not inadvertently saying we’re “poor” and can’t go out, and that’s a step in the right direction for me.

Have you ever had someone pull the “I can’t afford it” excuse on you? Have you had false beliefs about your financial situation before, or used a phrase without thinking it through?

How Do You “Get in the Zone” for Work?

How do you get in the zone?In making the transition from working in an office atmosphere to, well, our apartment, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to “get in the zone.” I’ll share with you what I’ve tried so far, and then I’d love to hear how you guys get down to work!

In the apartment

My first setup was pretty much a failure, and doomed from the start. When we moved in, we mostly left everything in our living room as we weren’t sure how we wanted to arrange things right away.

Since we didn’t really feel like moving things back and forth after carrying everything up two flights of stairs, my desk remained in the living room. That was a recipe for disaster, as I couldn’t focus at all while R was in there watching TV. Plus, we kept talking to each other, and that was a distraction in and of itself.

A few weeks ago, we finally moved my desk into our second bedroom. I mean, that is the main reason we elected to get a 2-bedroom apartment!

I’m glad to say it’s been working far better in here. If I work at night while R is home, I can tune out the TV, as this bedroom is all the way on the other side of the apartment. As an added bonus, it gets the most sunlight out of any room for most of the day. I think that makes me even more productive!

The only thing I haven’t done is “make the space my own.” I’ve never actually decorated any of my office work spaces, either. I don’t have pictures of family or anything, and I work best at a desk that’s organized. I would like to put up some cute quotes, but our lease is vague as to whether or not hanging things is really allowed.

I still use my laptop, especially if I get tired of sitting at my desk. I like that I can take it with me anywhere. You can find me working on the couch, on a bar stool at the kitchen counter, or using a snack tray as a makeshift desk in the living room.

I did originally get my laptop for this purpose, and so that I can venture outside. Leading to the next point!

Do you have a dedicated work space in your home? How have you made it work for you?

Library, coffee shop, anywhere with free wifi?

When I was in college, I spent at least 80% of my time outside of class in the library. It definitely helped me get in the zone for studying, writing a paper, or just to relax and unwind from a strenuous class. Even though I lived a mere 5 minutes away, it was better than trying to study in my bedroom, which inevitably ended up with me falling asleep on my bed.

Truthfully, libraries have always felt like a second home for me. I’ve always loved reading, and I looked forward to weekly trips there.

But…I haven’t been blown away by the libraries here. I’m used to a gigantic library for one school district, and they have several libraries here scattered throughout the county. As a result, most of them are smaller, with less “private space” dedicated to working.

Cat zone

Her lazy zone…

That said, I’m still willing to give it a try. I’ve seen three of the libraries that are closest to us so far, and I’ll be trying out each of them in hopes of finding “my spot.” Thinking about going to the library gets me in the mindset of doing work.

As for coffee shops, I have to admit, I’m skeptical. I’d rather work in peace and quiet, as I have a hard time focusing when others around me are talking. If any of you prefer to work out of Starbucks, let me know how you make it work!

As a small sidenote, I’m also not keen on going to place where I kind of have to spend money to stay. Obviously it’s the right thing to do, but I’m not a huge coffee/tea person, so it’s money I wouldn’t normally be spending.

I can’t really think of any other places to work, except our clubhouse. They do offer free wifi, but I have to imagine there are a lot of people going in and out of there. Our clubhouse unfortunately doesn’t offer a separate “office space” with computers – it’s just an open space with tables that connects to the lobby.

Where do you do your best work?

Time is everything

Next up – I think it’s important to figure out what time works best for you for certain tasks. I can’t write a coherent blog post first thing in the morning, at all. I am not a morning person! I have tried, but lately it hasn’t worked out. I’ve adapted, sometimes working past 10pm. I know that’s better than 8am for me.

I don’t mind starting off my day commenting on other blogs, or reviewing emails. That I can do! But when it comes to writing anything of substance, I’m better off waiting an hour or so, until I stop feeling groggy. If any of you can wake up and bounce out of bed, let me know your secret, okay?

Working late can be detrimental, though. R usually gets home around 5:30pm, and instead of going running, he’s actually been waking up early and going before work. This can cut into our time together, and I end up feeling a little bad. I at least make time for us to eat together and chat, before going off to my “office” for the night. And of course, this isn’t an every day occurrence, but I’ve been guilty of working on the weekends, too.

What time do you do your best work?

Turning it over to you!

I want to hear from everyone – this doesn’t necessarily apply to those working from home.

Do you have a certain routine you go through in the morning before you sit down at work? At my past jobs, everyone liked to congregate where the coffee was. My personal routine mainly involved sorting through emails and prioritizing the day’s tasks.

Do you have a regular job, and a side gig? How do you juggle both? Do you prefer to wake up before work, or get work done when you come home (or both)?

Let me know how you “get in the zone” in the comments!

Being Grateful: Fortieth Edition

Wow, I can’t believe we are up to the 40′s already! I think it will be interesting to have a look back at all of these once a year has been completed.

The weekend is finally here, and I hope you’ve been enjoying it so far. It started last night with a bang – literally. Unexpected thunderstorms, yay. Other than that, R and I went out to eat last night, and the total came to $8.66. We had $10 left on our gift card, so that was free. I love gift cards!

Also, I feel the need to tell you all R is amazing as he’s cleaning the apartment right now. I am so lucky to have found someone to take up the tasks I hate ;). That means baking of some sort is in order, since that’s how we roll. He cleans, I bake! We both win.

being grateful

Vacation planning

I’m currently being grateful for getting to plan a little weekend getaway soon! I’ve heard one too many nice things about Asheville, NC, and seeing as it’s only 2 hours away, it’s actually a shorter distance than most weekend trips we take.

The only slight problem is that because of the beautiful fall foliage, hotels are either super expensive, or completely booked. We ran into this when trying to visit upstate, NY, too. I blame R, because his birthday is in the middle of October, and apparently that’s prime time for pretty mountain scenery.

Being grateful - mountainsI thought that maybe we should just stay at a hotel maybe a little further away, and go back to Asheville the following day. A little inconvenient, but it might be worth the savings.

Sadly, I took a look on Airbnb, and didn’t see a huge selection. Our other option could be Boone, NC. Recently, a neighbor of my parents went there, and she had a lot of fun (and she’s 85). It’s still set in the mountains, and it’s a little closer. Hopefully something works out!

I’m also being grateful that R has labor day off, so we’ll be visiting my parents again. Their anniversary is on the 3rd, so we’ll be taking them out to celebrate. Actually, my mom has had this $50 gift card for a restaurnt none of us like, and I told her we could possibly trade it for something else. I’ve seen websites mentioned on other blogs, but I can’t recall any. Do any of you have experience with swapping gift cards online?

It’s a small world

A few days ago, R received a text from an old college teammate of his, and what do you know – he just moved here! He’s actually been attending grad school down here. R recalled that he majored in business or accounting, and since Charlotte is a banking city, that makes sense.

Even more amusing, they eventually got around to talking about their other halves; his friend is actually engaged. So of course, R said we would be engaged, if not for the fact he has no clue how to propose. I have such a creative boyfriend…

Well, guess where his friend proposed? Asheville.

It’s obviously just another sign we need to go! His friend said it’s similar to upstate NY, where they went to college, which is the feeling I got from looking at pictures. It’s just so beautiful and unique. If you’re interested, there’s a few blogs dedicated to this must-see city. I really hope we can make it work, even if it means going at a later date.

My lovely readers

This week, the one thing that stands out to me the most is all of you! I decided to stop being anonymous on Thursday, and I was met with overwhelming support.

To be honest, I didn’t think many people would care at all, so it means a lot to me that you all stopped by to congratulate me and share your thoughts on anonymity.

I’d like to feature a few awesome tweets I received:

To which I already responded, it’s because we’re awesome. It’s funny, as I originally thought our hair was very close in color, and we’re both on the paler side :P.

Kali is too sweet, as always!

Quite a high honor!

Seriously, you all were making me blush.

Melanie, my main motivator, who’s been kicking ass at freelancing since she left her full-time job! I hope to follow in her footsteps.

And of course, I appreciate every single one of the comments that were left on the post itself!

It feels like I say this at least every other week, but I am so grateful for all of you! This little mini-journey of blogging has been more awesome than I ever thought it would be. The PF community is hands-down the most supportive out there, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

I had a few of you ask me to give an update if I notice any differences blogging as a real person, as opposed to a picture of the ocean, and I’m happy to oblige if I do find a difference.

As a very small sidenote, I know a few of you have been experiencing a little difficulty with commenting. Just let me know if it continues. I’m not sure what happened as I haven’t changed anything on the back-end, but I just updated plugins in case that was the cause.

Anyway! What a way to end the week. I hope you all have an amazing weekend!

What are you being grateful for this week? Planning any fall vacations, or just getting ready to bundle up?