Future Dreams

While jogging with my wife a few days ago, we had a conversation that we haven’t had in years. We discussed our dreams.

It’s an important conversation for couples to have. What are your hopes? What are your dreams? Where do you want to be in 10 years? In 20? In 50? Planning for the future gives you a map for the present.

My wife and I hadn’t had this conversation in years. A few days ago, we did. Our life-goals are simple and achievable.

I want to leave the corporate world and support my family with writing and the training classes I do. I want a chunk of land outside of any major metropolitan area, but close enough for the entertainment and shopping. I want enough land to expand my classes on my own property, relying on no one.

My wife wants enough land to have some horses. It was unspoken, but I think she wants my goals to take off so they can support her goals, too.

We want a comfortable retirement and we want to help the kids with college.

We’re a bit behind the game for college funding. That’s ok, though. There is nothing wrong with a kid working his way through college and learning those life lessons.

We are also behind on the retirement. But, if I can support us doing the things I love, I don’t need $X million. Retirement isn’t a cessation of activity, it is taking the time to do the things you love on your own schedule. If writing a book while sitting on my private range is enough to fund our life, that’s the perfect retirement.

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The Value of Hiding Money From Your Spouse

I have a confession, but it’s probably not going to be a big shocker if you read the title of this post.

Acceptance marks displayed on top left of this...

Acceptance marks displayed on top left of this sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hide money from my wife.

Some of you just started screaming at your monitor that I’m a horrible person.

That’s cool.

You’re wrong, but the fact that I got that reaction out of you makes me smile.

Ok, I might be a little bit horrible, but not because I hide money.

My wife has an admitted shopping problem.  If she thinks we’re broke, she shops less.  That’s a win and allows me to save up for our long-term goals and provide for our financial security.

I don’t lie about it.  If she asks how we’re doing, I tell her.  At least in general terms.

But I didn’t tell her about my annual bonus, until we had a bunch of car repairs come up that would have swamped our emergency fund.

I also haven’t told her about the cash I’ve been stockpiling.

A couple of years ago, the power went out here for four days.  It wasn’t just our house, it was 75% of everything within 5 miles of our house.

When the power came on in some places after a day or two, the phone lines were still down, which meant gas stations couldn’t process credit cards.

Quick, look in your wallet and tell me how much cash you have on you….

Most people live on their credit or debit cards.

Could you buy food or water if your plastic was gone?

I could that week, but not for long, so I started taking the cash payments from my side hustle and putting it aside.  I’d come home, give my wife a little cash, keep a little cash for myself, and put at least 80% of it away.  I absolutely refuse to touch that money for anything.

Part of the “set it aside and forget about” means not revealing its existence.  It would be too easy to dip into it to pay the pizza guy or when we go to Rennfest.

So I don’t talk about, and it gets to sit all by itself in the safe, comfy and warm.  It’s my security blanket, and nobody gets to touch my binky.

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Not the Center of the Universe

On Sunday, I dropped Punk #3 off at a birthday party.  She walked into the yard, saw her friends and took off running.  I confirmed times with the birthday girl’s mother and left.  I went home and had Punk #2 help me with repairs to Coffin #1.  It is Halloween season, after all.

Birthday Party Bash

Birthday Party Bash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I came back two hours later, they had just finished eating cake and were about to open up presents, so I got to hang around for a while.

I noticed some amazing things:

  • Fully 75% of this family’s living room was devoted to play space for the kid.  As you walk in the front door, you get to see a giant pile of toys and kid-craft crap.  Most of what is traditionally a gathering area was taken over by kid.
  • Of the dozen or so children who came to the party, close to half of the parents stayed.  Really, is your precious little snowflake so endangered by her friends that you can’t come up with something better to do that watch her play with her friends and ignore you for two hours while under the supervision of the resident parent?
  • Clowns.  Ok, it wasn’t technically a clown, but a guy named Mr. Fun who hands out whoopie cushions and entertains kids while wearing odd clothes counts as a clown, to me.  I get it, you want your special little snowflake to have a memorable birthday, but if every party is big and over-the-top, which one will she remember?  Maybe she’ll only remember a sense of entitlement.

I very firmly believe that children should not be raised to feel like they are the center of the universe.  Not even to Mom & Dad.   They need to know that we have lives and interests that aren’t them.

Mothers and fathers NEED to have lives and interests that are entirely separate from their children.  If your entire focus for 20+years is on the lives of your little brats, what is going to happen to you when they move out?  Are you prepared to abandon two decades of self-training and suddenly become your own person again?

Husbands and wives need to have time to themselves that excludes the children.  When the monsters finally leave, you need to be able to have a relationship that doesn’t revolve around who spilled what where and who’s turn is it to clean it up.

Children are not–and should not be–the focal point of a household.  Leave them at a birthday party.  Let them find a way to entertain themselves for a few hours.  Go on a date.

I promise you, letting your kids see their parents happily doing things together–even if it’s gleefully leaving them with a sitter–will do more for their long-term well-being than knowing you’re standing in the corner at a birthday party watching her fake a fart with a 25 cent toy.

Let her be independent.  Let her know that other priorities do exist for other people.  Let her fall down and scrape her knees.  Let her figure out how things work for herself.

That is life, after all.  Let her live it and don’t forget to live it for yourself.

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$1500 Luxury

I’ve got some expensive habits.   Not like Charlie Sheen snorting $2500 of blow of a hooker’s boobs, but still expensive.

Charlie Sheen in March 2009

Charlie Sheen in March 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My latest one is dancing lessons.  Linda surprised me on one of weekly date nights a few months ago.  She found a Groupon for the dancing studio we used before we got married.  It was $69 for a month of unlimited group lessons.

When the month was up, we signed on for their beginner cycle of lessons, which cost another $400.

And now we’re starting the Social Foundation program.

Social Foundation is a series of classes that teach some advanced moves, but also to teach dancers how to lead and follow properly and how to dance socially and look respectable on a dance floor in any number of situations.   Leading and following are important because every single dance move out there has specific cues that tell your partner what’s coming next.  If she doesn’t know, you both look clumsy.

So we chose the four dances we’re going to learn better and signed up.   We’re going to learn the Rumba, Waltz, Tango, and Swing.  We’re already pretty good at Rumba and Swing, but we’re going to get better.  Personally, I’m hoping to also figure out how to use the Tango on an open dance floor without crashing into people.  That way, we can pretend to be Gomez and Morticia, my heroes.

Now, the thing is, dance lessons aren’t cheap.  They cost about $100 per hour, where an hour is defined as 45 minutes.   We’re rolling the last half of our beginner lessons into our social foundation lessons and paying $1400.

Ouch.

They gave us the option of financing it over 3-4 months, but I didn’t want to pay an extra $200 for the privilege.   I think we’ll be tapping the vacation fund to pay for the lessons.

Why am I willing to pay this much?

Dancing is one of the very few things Linda and I both enjoy.  We’re pretty good at it, it’s great exercise, it’s fun, and (shhh!) it counts as foreplay.  It also doesn’t hurt to have the sidelines of the dance floor lined with people watching us dance, wishing they could do what we’re doing…or wishing their husbands were willing to learn how to dance.   This also isn’t just something we’re doing at the studio.  We are out on a dance floor dancing to a live band almost every week.  That usually comes with about $25 in cover charges and drinks.

Fun, exercise, have sex, and inspire jealousy.  That’s a winning combination.  And finding things to do that we both love to do is difficult and easily worth the $2000 we’ve paid the dance studio this year.

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