Autumn's Pagan Life

thrifty pagan living…

100 things challenge October 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn @ 10:56 pm

My 100 things challenge: My rules are pretty simple, but might be a little different than some of the other people doing it. I want to get down to 100 personal possessions. Books, cutlery, pillows, etc don’t count. I may start counting my toothbrush/comb/personal grooming items as part of the challenge but I haven’t really thought about it yet. Before I started the challenge, I was thinking that I had no clothes and I should do some shopping… and then I went and inventoried my clothes and I have a TON more than I thought I did. I am currently at 130 items and I want to get down to 100, so I’m going to have to make a few more cuts.

Grey Cardigan
Pink fleece PJ pants
Yoga Pants, Navy blue
Yoga Pants, Heather gray
Underwear, 33 pr (I lose them, so I buy more and more…)
Blue pullover Tshirt/hoodie
Yoga pants, black
Blue Jeans
Heather purple sweater
Magenta sweater
Olive green sweater
grey sweater
black sweats/baggy pants-Getting too big, donate soon
PJ Shirt
Mittens, blue
Grey terry cloth shorts
grey yoga shorts
pink swimsuit
Blue sweatshirt- Getting holes, replace soon
Long black skirt
Formal black skirt
black polo
turquoise tank top
coral print silk skirt
white pj shirt
blk/white long sleeve shirt
black dress pants
black sweater
black yoga shorts
bra, grey replace soon
bra, nude replace soon
sports bras
gray tank
black tank
black/grey striped tank
blue tank
purple tank
pink tank
black shirt
pink tank
grey tank
grey tshirt
red tshirt
pink tshirt
blue long sleeve shirt
tan long sleeve shirt
blue tshirt
green tshirt
purple tshirt
navy blue tshirt
Undershirts, 15- some need repair
white strappy top
white polo
white comfy shirt
Socks
Nylons
Linen skirt
orange silk scarf
grey scarf
black dress polo collar
black knit dress
red empire waist top
pink sweater, fuzzy
turquoise nightie
black nightie
long sleeve shirt royal blue
black skirt
black shirt
pink bathrobe
blue Adidas windbreaker
black peacoat
pink peacoat
black work jacket
black tweed jacket
grey gloves
Work clothes- 2 red polos, 2 pr khakis
nude bra replace soon
long sleeve purple shirt
pink pj shirt
blue jeans
grey tshirt
taupe sweater
black skirt with embroidery
purple down vest
blue raincoat getting small, may need to replace
Box of crafting supplies
sewing machine
Work tote with supplies
Box religious supplies
Pagan bumper sticker
Journal
Pink Xbox controller
Diva cup
Yoga Mat
Weights
Workout DVDs
Exercise ball
Winter boots
black dress shoes, flats
black dress shoes, heels
black dress shoes, heels
black casual shoes
white tennis shoes
Cosmetics (makeup)
Jewelry case
Black boots
Guitar
glasses
car
cell phone
backpack
2 pr flipflops
sm box stationery
collection ceramic dogs
mini leatherman
cell phone charger
black military style jacket- getting small, may need to replace
Navy hoodie
wallet
purse
mojo bag
sunglasses
herbal supplements- need to finish ASAP
Neck massaging pillow
stuffed animal
grey hat
black high heeled shoes
hair bands/clips
bandanas
antique hankies

DONATED:
Jean shorts, 2 pr
Strapless Bra
Navy sweat pants, XL
Blue running shorts
purple scarf
silver sweatshirt
VS sleep tee
VS sleep tee
button down shirt
bikini
Navy gym shorts
purple tank
silk slip
short black skirt
short floral skirt
white t shirt
bra, ivory

 

the limitations religion places on society

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn @ 10:25 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Things have been busy on this front. I read a memoir on a pair of siblings sent to a fundamentalist school in the Dominican Republic, made it through a couple chapters of bell hook’s “Feminism Is For Everybody”, and I just got another shift at work, so I’m up to 40 hours a week. I am tired. I keep telling myself I’m only working all these crazy hours (11pm-7am) until the holidays are over sometime in January/February, and then I’ll be reduced to 16-20 hours a week. So I need to pick up all the hours I can now.

I have this tremendous to-do list that I keep trying to get to, but the internet keeps sucking me in with its vortex of knowledge. It’s mostly little stuff. I need to call the bank and find out when my checks will be here. I need to call TRowePrice and get my Roth IRA fixed, and I have projects for people’s Yule gifts that I really need to get started on. I need to check Nelnet and be sure my student loans are being paid off the way they should. I’m trying to gain some muscle while exercising with my mom/walking the dog and work is very active so all my muscles are crying for help… Plus, I’m trying desperately to go vegetarian again (I felt so much better that way) but keep forgetting to plan ahead so I end up eating what everyone else is eating because I sleep when I should be cooking. McDonalds:1, Me:0.

I feel like I’m not doing too well with my spiritual practice, either. I don’t have time to do meditations and my room isn’t clean enough to set up an altar. I am, in the spirit of simplicity, currently paring my possessions down to 100 things though. Right now I’m at 130, down from 147. I’m going to keep paring down, slowly. Some things are wearing out and I’m going to have to take into serious consideration whether I should replace them or not. I miss my meditations and I really need to make time for them again.

A couple things are pissing me off right now too, the first being religion. I cannot believe the things people justify in the name of religion. Now, my political views are so far left that most liberals would say I’m off the deep end, but some of this stuff is just common sense to me. Let gay and lesbian couples marry. They’re in love, and it doesn’t hurt you any. Let them adopt as a family unit. How come hetero parents are allowed to pop out all the kids they want with no consideration for what kind of parents they’ll be, but if a gay or lesbian couple wants a kid, we scream about them “turning kids gay” or the kids “not having role models for their gender”. That is sexist thinking right there, folks. You don’t have to have a different gender parent than yourself to turn out right. You need a considerate, loving parent who listens and can provide the basic necessities of life along with affection and interaction.

Sexism is making me angry too. Why do commercials for kids’ toys only show the socially approved gendered child playing with them? I loved trains as a kid, and I played wood-shop with my brother’s plastic tool bench too. We even had a little battery powered screw driver that you could take the little cars apart with and put them back together again… And I played with dolls and horses too. My brothers played restaurant and Barbie with me more times than I can remember. Why don’t ads for trains or plastic dinosaurs feature girls as well as boys? Why aren’t little boys included in ads for the latest playschool plastic kitchen?

Gender stereotyping is limiting, and it has seeped into our culture in more ways than we can imagine. We assume that little girls like dolls and little boys like cars, but perhaps they only like them because they are expected to like them, or because that’s what they’ve been given to play with. If Mommy was a racecar driver, I bet Sally would want some matchbox cars of her own…

J and I are going to go to EMU in early November to apply and see how his GI bill/financial aid will work out. I’m hoping both of us will get in. Right now, I plan to major in Gender Studies. That is what I’m passionate about. I want to study race, gender, sex, and what is cultural and what is instinctual and what is learned… I want to grapple with trans/cis issues, LGBT rights, anything and everything I can get my hands on. I realize this degree may not appear immediately marketable to some people, but I wouldn’t be doing this for any kind of high paying career. I want to work with non-profits, and earn enough to keep my bills paid. Being wealthy seems like a distraction when so much of the world lives in poverty. Wealth is a barrier that keeps us from understanding how the rest of the world lives. If I have enough, I want that to be enough.

Perhaps that is my spiritual purpose in right now. Right now I feel dependent. We can’t make it on our own, so we’re renting from my folks. I’m dependent on people at my job, hoping they like me, hoping I work fast enough to make whatever quota’s been set. There are two ways to wealth- you can earn a lot, or you can spend very, very little. I’m going to try the spending very little, because that’s the option I have.

 

100 Things Challenge October 17, 2009

Haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been reading all over the blogosphere, and I’ve been loving Zen Habits, mnmlist, and aguynameddave… Especially Dave’s 100 Things challenge. The idea is to pair your personal belongings down to 100 things. Now how it’s played is different from person to person, but I’d count socks as one item and underwear as one. I’m not entirely sure what to do about my books.

I really want to try this though. The idea is to be in control of what you own and therefore what you buy. If you can only have 100 things, you really have to think every single purchase through. For the purpose of this experiment, I won’t count dishes, blankets, tools or books as part of the 100 items since J and I share those. I would like to keep the number of books I own at a fairly steady number though, so I’ll be using Paperbackswap to read and then swap out books, unless I feel I’ll need them in the future. I got rid of a ton of stuff when J and I came up from Mississippi since we could only bring what would fit in the car, so eventually a lot of our household goods will have to be replaced, and I’m hoping this experiment in minimalism can help me evaluate what I really do need.

So hopefully on my next day off I can inventory what I have and evaluate what I need!

 

Life on Minimum Wage: The Myths October 6, 2009

J and I are living on minimum wage now, and I thought I’d do some googling and see what my favorite personal finance blogs have to say about getting ahead. I didn’t get far. It seems none of the writers have actually LIVED on minimum wage, but that didn’t stop them from being full of ideas on what could be done better by us, the poor dumb folks who work minimum wage jobs. So I thought I’d hit a couple of the big myths I found and work through them.

Firstly, I love how everyone tells you not to have a car on minimum wage. (Often while telling you not to live in the city because the city is expensive.) Instead, they say, you should walk or bike or take the bus. That might work in say, Mississippi, where we just moved from, but in Michigan you can’t walk to places a good third of the year due to the massive amounts of snow and the lack of sidewalks. Let’s face it, our public transportation system sucks, and the sidewalks are only in more populated areas. Even in the cities, the sidewalks aren’t always well maintained in the winter. If you’re minimum wage, you probably don’t have health insurance, so all you need is a slip and fall on ice to break your ankle and you’ll be out of a job and unable to see a doctor. By the way, how are you supposed to go see a doctor or a dentist or a lawyer if you haven’t got a car or access to public transportation? A lot of people on minimum wage do share rides, but that doesn’t work in all cases. A coworker was half an hour late last week because his ride didn’t come to pick him up. He was lucky because he’s a full time employee with several years at the company and they were understanding, but if stuff like that happens too often management will start to become less understanding. Ride-sharing assumes that you have someone going to the same area at the same time as you, and that doesn’t always happen. J and I work slightly different shifts (him usually 6pm-2am, I work 11pm-7am) in two different counties. J’s job requires him to have his own car so he can do his job properly. (He’s a security guard)

The second myth was that you should live rurally (while not having a car) and rent a room for $200-$300 a month. News flash for you- rooms in the area we live in (very rural) start around $400-$500 a month. A room can cost you $600-$800 in the city, and that doesn’t always include utilities. Even with a $400/month room you’d need a car to be able to get to your job because there are no buses and there are no jobs in town. You can live with friends or family, like we are, but what if you don’t have those options? Section 8 housing would have been $650+ a month for us, and I’m not even full time. I can see how it would be easy to fall behind on bills when rent would eat up all of my paycheck.

The first two myths lead into the third, not often stated but often assumed myth, that people who are living on minimum wage just need to buck up and find an “opportunity”, because this is America, the land of “opportunity”. I would agree that there are opportunities out there, but they are not always accessible to people in our situation. I suppose you could do door to door sales selling something like Avon or Mary Kay, but a lot of those businesses require cash up front for your product. (Avon does not) You could pick up additional jobs. But all of these things assume a prosperous economy where people are willing to pay for unnecessary goods like makeup or going out to eat, or even pay for a babysitter (which is a job you would need a car to get to). I’ve floated the idea of working in an adult industry which stays fairly steady even in tough times, but frankly, I think I’d rather be poor. Opportunities aren’t always there, and often you find that you’re too young, too old, the wrong race or sexual orientation or color.

I know I look at the ladies (and men, but mostly ladies) who are barely making it on minimum wage, and I think, there but for the grace of the Goddess go I. I’m lucky that I know how to be careful with my money, I’m lucky I have a good credit score, I’m lucky I don’t have kids and I have a family willing to put up with me and J for a while. I’m lucky that I kept our debt at a manageable level even with J buying a car. Most people don’t have any sort of a financial education beyond what they saw their parents do, so I was lucky to have parents that taught me to budget at a young age, and practice saving with my allowance.

For J and I, this situation will only last a few years while we go back to school and finish our degrees, but there are people that will struggle, living on minimum wage for years. A lot of the girls at work go to school as well, but they can only manage to attend part time because they work and they have kids. They hope for a better life, they want to make something of themselves, and I want to see them get there and achieve that better life. Minimum wage living can be dangerous, especially for women. Often it leaves them dependent on whoever their ride is or whoever they share a house or apartment with. If you don’t have a car (per the minimum wage tips from other blogs) and you’re sharing a house or renting a room with other people, how are you going to get out of abusive situations or relationships? I wonder how often men and women put up with things they shouldn’t because their shelter or their ride to work would be in jeopardy if they stood up for themselves?

The system isn’t working for a lot of people, and it needs overhaul. Those who live on minimum wage receive very little government assistance because we make too much for food stamps, or Medicaid. A few of the women receive WIC, which doesn’t last forever. I can’t imagine raising a child by yourself on a minimum wage, part time job.

I think there are some changes we can make that would help minimum wage earners without being a subsidy or charity. A better public transportation system comes to mind. Perhaps we could change section 8 from being 30% of your gross income to being 25% or 20%. Maybe we could even move from a minimum wage to a living wage. It’s all a dream at this point, but maybe someday it can come true.

 

Seven months with the fam September 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn @ 4:19 am

Well, J and I have our plan now. We can’t afford to get our own place right now, so the plan is to stay with my parents for about seven more months while we do our darndest to pay off J’s car. I *knew* that car was a bad idea, but it’s a decent car and he’ll need it for his job.

I realized I haven’t blogged for a while, and I’ve had a lot on my mind. Between moving, finding jobs, having a visit from my dear friend *Ana* who has been sent on her way, and dealing with people who are generally religious and intolerant, the days have been packed.

I hope to have more to say later, I just don’t know what to say just now.

 

Finally, we found a car September 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn @ 4:01 pm

People say the problem with $800 cars is that you have to keep buying $800 cars… but we found a $600 1990 Mitsubishi Galant, red, and in fairly good condition. You figure a $600 car is going to need some TLC, and Rosa (my name for her) is no exception. So, tomorrow we go to the Secretary of State to get the title work done, I’ve already insured her (through USAA, who I absolutely LOVE because they are awesome) for an amazing $263 for six months, and then we wait till our paychecks come in to buy new tires, fix the rearview mirror, fix the front left turn signal, and hopefully that will be it for a while. We may possibly have to change the wheel bearings, but I’ll have to have my Dad look at that.

 

What (and whom) is Poor? September 17, 2009

Filed under: Budgeting — Autumn @ 6:38 pm
Tags: , ,

My husband and I just found jobs. He will be working full time, third shift as a security guard in a trailer park. I’ve got a part time job working third shift in the opposite direction. We’re going to be living on minimum wage. And this is where I ask myself, how do people do it?

We were pretty good with our money in the Navy. I mean, we bought things we didn’t really need, and ate more expensively than we needed to, but I still saved something… which I’m realizing was not enough. We are going to have to purchase another car because we’re working the same shift in two different places and his schedule fluctuates. A few days ago we went to the Section 8 apartment complex in our area, and applied for a place. The rent was going to be $670! We couldn’t keep our dog there and that didn’t even cover all our utilities! J and I had just told my parents we couldn’t afford to rent a house from them but we have now rescinded that statement. We’ll rent a house rather than an apartment and probably have a bedroom we can sublet out.

I’m trying to make up a budget for us, and I’m realizing just how hard it must be for people in our position who have children. I’m trying to decide between paying down debt and having health insurance, I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to feed and clothe children. For us, this poverty is short-term. We’re going to do this until next semester, when J will probably go part time, I’ll keep my job, and we’ll attend school full time. But what if you couldn’t get yourself out? It would be so easy to fall into an insurmountable pile of debt.

Trying to find a cheap car, I see how hard it can be to get reliable transportation that isn’t going to break down, cost you a fortune in payments, or have killer insurance costs. J’s car is SO expensive, and it may come to a point where we have to sell it and buy him a beater car. It would be a last resort, because it was a fairly priced vehicle, but our life situation has changed so dramatically that the payments are painful to make.

But are we poor? I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it as such, because I know when we finish school we can find much better jobs. (J wants to be a teacher, I am still undecided) It’s not forever, it’s only for a time and I have family close if something terrible were to go wrong. But what is poor? Is it an attitude? Is it a mindset? Is there an actual number where we can say yes, we’re poor? I don’t feel poor, I just feel a pressing need to keep our jobs and be very careful with our money. Simplicity is something I have been trying to bring into our lives for a while now, and this may be my opportunity to do so.

I saw a few interesting quotes on the internet… Can’t remember the sources now, but someone said:

Simplicity is liberating. Poverty isn’t.

So it may all be perspective. I am hoping to use this time to learn more about what really matters to me. Who are we when we can’t be defined by our cars or house or place of employment? Who do we become?

“Behind every great fortune, is a crime” – Honore de Balzac

 

 
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