Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas is cancelled

Okay, not really. Just toned down a bit. Maybe more than I would like.

I'll get back to that later.

In the last post I mentioned being worried about my husband's job. Really worried. But now all seems back to normal, or at least, as normal as it has been for the past few months. The middle management of the old company went to a meeting with the new company, and we all sort of thought that these managers would be told that most of them would no longer be needed. But instead they went to this meeting and mostly heard "welcome to the family" type stuff. The week after that my husband went to a meeting of the new company, which was run by the managers of the old company, and he didn't meet anyone from the new company that wasn't already working for the old one. So he signed the papers and such, and then went back to work as usual the next day.

We're still being told that nothing will change until 2012. We believe that, as there is only a few weeks left of 2011.

There is now a rumour that major changes are coming in March or April. We will see.

Anyway, while I was getting out cookbooks wondering what I could make with beans and rice and such as that, everything seems to be back to normal, and we have mostly returned to our previous spending habits.

While I was in the stage of really worrying about money, I asked to be less involved in gift exchanges than I was last year. This seemed to upset my mom a bit, but everyone else seemed okay with it.

In fact, my friends went so far as to say that we shouldn't exchange gifts at all, which was not what I was trying to do. I wanted to limit the gifts to small things, hopefully small things that I had bought earlier. Or maybe I would knit them all hats, or make them soap or baked goods. The person I thought would be most in favor of the soap or baked goods plan wasn't there for the discussion. The person who is most into the whole Christmas exchange thing wasn't there either. That left a couple who only wants to exchange cards, a guy who said he was going to be out of town the weekend we normally exchange gifts, and a girl who says she'd rather do the cards this year just because she's running out of ideas of what to get people.

So the gift exchange that I usually enjoy the most has become a card exchange, which wasn't what I meant to do at all. I hope that the other guy speaks up and says that he's already got something for me, so I would at least exchange gifts with one of them.

I've said that I would not do the charity thing this year. And I probably won't, even if the money situation is better. I'm just not that into it.

And that leaves my family, and my mom doesn't seem as upset as she did. We usually draw names and get one person something that's about thirty dollars. And then we also bring a five dollar gift for something that is usually called the Chinese gift exchange. (That's when someone opens a gift, and then maybe someone else "steals" it, and then the first person opens another gift.) The "stealing" bit is a lot of fun, but there are only six of us. My brother and I think that instead of drawing names for the thirty dollar gifts, we should each bring two of the five dollar gifts for the "stealing" bit. So that would save us all about twenty-five dollars and be more fun anyway. My brother thinks that we are all adults, and we don't really need the thirty dollars gifts, cause if those are things we really want we've probably already got them.

I think that he's right.

Anyway, when Black Friday came, I didn't have as much money as I would have liked to spend, but I didn't think that I had as much to buy either. I was only spending twenty or so on my family, and almost none on my friends, and none on the charity.

Still, for the past few years, I've been going to Walmart early on Black Friday to buy jeans (two or three three for myself), a small appliance (for myself), and several DVDs (some for the charity, some for friends and family, and some for myself). Except for the DVDs, there usually isn't that much on my Christmas list that is worth getting out at four or five in the morning for. But I've long had the tradition of buying stuff I needed for myself, like underwear and a crock pot.

Except for the toys, I wonder if anyone is actually buying the Black Friday stuff for other people. I mean, who gives away giant TVs for Christmas? And, if your family has enough money to give away giant TVs, is saving a hundred dollars or so worth standing in that really long line, possibly all night?

I do not have enough money for a giant TV, and on Black Friday I always wait at least an hour for the really crazy people to get done shopping. But if I ever did have the money for a giant TV and cared enough about it to wait in that long line to get it, the giant TV is going in my living room, and it's going to stay in my living room. I'm certainly not buying three or four TVs to give to friends and family.

Anyway, this year, I went to Walmart at five or so in the morning and found a mostly empty parking lot. I didn't need a small appliance, I couldn't find the jeans I wanted, so that only left looking through the DVDs.

I wish I'd had the money. I hadn't seen anything that interesting in the ad, but once I got there I found complete seasons of Supernatural, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Universe, Fringe, and The Big Bang Theory. If I had bought everything I wanted, that would have been about two hundred dollars, and that's before buying extras for friends. I didn't have two hundred dollars. I ended up spending about twenty, and I haven't yet decided if I will keep them or give them away.

Next I stood in line at Half Price Books, not quite an hour early, so that I could get a five dollar gift card and have a chance at getting $100. I didn't get the $100, but with the $5 and a coupon I got one of the Chinese exchange gifts.

Next, I bought calendars with coupons in them, a few dollar DVDs at Best Buy, and then headed to another Walmart. I found the jeans there and bought two. Again I looked at the DVDs, but didn't buy more. I had a bit of money left, but I just couldn't decide how to spend it. Which season of Supernatural is the best? Season two maybe? Is that better than any seasons of Stargate Atlantis? Or Fringe? I just couldn't choose.

I think that might be it for the Christmas shopping, except for one or two more Chinese exchange gifts, a gift card, some candy and other food, and maybe some yarn if I knit a few more things. I think I'm done.

This year is probably going to be dull.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two paychecks from being homeless

It has been a while since I posted anything. There were a couple of things I wanted to write about that turned out to be very long projects, and somehow, I just never got around to writing them. And then I missed blogging about a couple of trips I took (and a few trips that I wanted to go on but missed). And then there were a few more things that I meant to write but somehow didn't.

I guess this just isn't my routine anymore. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and actually have something to do. Or, sometimes, I manage to get back to sleep for another hour or so. Or, maybe, I wake up early and watch whatever it was that I missed on TV the night before.

Mostly, not being obsessed with the blog is a good thing. Last month I actually had time to both get the house clean before the bug guy came and put up about half of the Halloween stuff. And I wasn't even home all of the time, having gone on a trip to middle of nowhere Texas and attempted to go to the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Still, I have forgotten to blog about a few things, and I regret that. It's good that right now I don't feel the need to bitch about every little thing that happens to me, but I like to look back and see what I did the year before and other things that I would like to look up, but I can't do that now, cause I didn't bother to write anything down.

Okay, so the big thing that I have to write down now is not our little trip to Houston, but I will talk about that for a bit. Earlier there was a planned trip to Houston, which was scheduled and then unscheduled and then rescheduled, but I got sick and didn't get to go. I really wanted to go. We had paid for a room in Webster, a bit south of Houston, about half an hours drive from Galveston, and if I had gone there would have been many trips to the beach and probably long soaks in a hot tub. But I didn't get to go then, and this trip didn't seem to be as good, being on the north side of Houston and much to far away for morning trips to the beach. But we could at least spend Sunday afternoon in Galveston, and I always have this thought that I shouldn't turn down any trips to places I like, no matter how dull I expect most of the trip to be, it might be my last chance to go for a while.

And I think maybe this is it, no more trips, even mostly boring ones.

The big news this week is that the company my husband works for was bought by another company. The second company is one that my husband has worked for before, two or three times, so we already know what to expect. More work, less pay, and no insurance.

The holiday season is already a tough time for us, not only because of the extra expenses that most people have, but also because of the expected two or three weeks off with no pay. But most years we have thought that if we didn't do anything too stupid that it would all be okay again by February. This year we don't think that it will all be okay again, and that if he even still has a job it will be with a much smaller paycheck.

So half of the time my husband talks of gloom and doom, and half the time he acts as if things are really good, and we go out and spend too much on lunch. I rather think that we should start getting used to peanut butter sandwiches, but I don't argue with him, and we go out and eat seafood or barbecue instead.

The new company is saying that no one should worry, and that there will be no major changes until 2012.

Like we can't all look at the calendar and figure out how soon 2012 will be here.

So I don't know what we are going to do. It will be a while before we learn anything useful.

A few weeks ago I was happy that we had been able to pay off one of the cars a few months early. And then we had to pay for some car repairs. And now this.