Here’s something I really shouldn’t do: I shouldn’t check property listings in my neighborhood several months before my lease is up, because a) I get discouraged when I don’t find anything in my price range that isn’t a cheap crackerbox apartment, and b) I get discouraged when I find a terrific place and realize that I can’t even apply for it until at least May.
When I found this house we’re in now, I was mostly glad that the search was over. It’s difficult to find a place to live when you’re halfway across the country. There’s the anxiety over not knowing if it’s a decent place or not (since you can’t see it in person), plus the anxiety over whether or not anyone will read your e-mails or consider your phone calls (since they can’t see you in person), plus the anxiety of moving halfway across the country in general.
At first, this place seemed okay. Livable, at least. Yes, the property management company is apparently the scourge of Yelp, and yes, they had lied about several things and yes, the plumbing and carpet and apparent stray cat den underneath the house were issues, but the location was perfect and as a brand new Seattleite, that meant something for me.
Fast forward a year and some change, and I cannot wait to get the hell out of here. I cannot wait to stop paying an unbelievable amount of money to a company staffed by incompetent buffoons employed by a unscrupulous condo developer. Graham and I have discussed being willing to pay this kind of money for a place that’s actually worth it, and we agree that this place is definitely not. Even by ludicrously expensive Seattle standards. And like I said, I know I shouldn’t be checking listings anyplace, let alone the, um, four different sources I’m scouring right now, and I know it only causes me psychological torment, but at the very least, it’s driving home the hard truth that moving takes some serious scratch, and that means that from now until this lease is up, I’m back to pretending like I’m broke.
This is a technique that’s served me pretty well in my life, particularly when I need to restore some savings or gear up for a big purchase. And it’s very simple. Instead of spending money, I don’t. Any time I’m tempted to spend money, I tell myself that I don’t have any. It’s easy to fritter away money when you know you have it, and it’s easy to excuse yourself a certain buffer when you know it’s there. But when you’ve convinced yourself that you have no money, that the buffer is zero, and that no amount of checking your bank statement will convince you otherwise, it becomes second nature to just not spend anything on the things that, it turns out, you really don’t need.
The things I need are:
…that’s pretty much it. I have clothes. I have a car. I’m living with zero payments and other debt right now. And luckily, I’m perfectly happy to stay at home and entertain myself, which I’ve found is a cheap way to live. My main concerns from now until at least June are a) not spending money on anything I don’t need and b) building credit to buy the things I do. As of this moment, the last non-essential thing I purchased was a Kindle version of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep,” a book that had been on my to-read list for months until I was reminded about it by a lit podcast last night.
“Doctor Sleep” it is, then. That’s the last thing. No new book purchases. No new music purchases (congratulations, “Swift Arrows,” you snuck in under the wire!). No new clothes, no new gadgets, no going out and spending profligate amounts of money because I’ve stupidly convinced myself that I deserve it.* I’m not asking for people to pay for me. I’m not asking everyone else to change their plans to accommodate me. I’m just asking for a little patience and space. Until I sign a lease and move in to whichever place gets me out of this one, just consider me your brokest friend and understand why my answer to everything is going to be “no.”
*Exceptions include plans I already made for next Friday and Stephanie and Justin’s visit next month. And even those won’t be considered “profligate,” since nobody I know is rich, either.