Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Everyone's gone. The kids left with Ephraim about 3:00 PM on Monday. My mother-in-law left about 6:00 PM Monday. It's back to me and Lynda again. Last night was quiet. After a supper of Sonic burgers on half-price night, I tried to balance the checkbook (off by $0.36, which I'll find tonight) then went walking, about a mile and a quarter. Lynda didn't join me, as she is still recovering from the effects of the stomach virus that hit her over the weekend. Then I entered about a month of finances in my budget spreadsheet. I was a good boy, and didn't allow myself to check e-mail, work on writing stuff, or play any computer games until I had finances up to date. The checkbook is only part of it. Then read in Team of Rivals from about 10:30 to midnight, getting my ten pages read to the backdrop of a Clint Eastwood movie. Not the best way to read history, or get your needed sleep.

But I'm kind of wondering what normalcy is any more. As I've said before, I'm now working for about 68 percent of what I was making a little over a year ago, with no hope of any raises anytime soon unless I change jobs, something I don't want to do; now is not the time. But I see some deflationary signs. Our weekly half gallon of milk costs 82 percent of what it did a year ago. The grocery bill has dropped some, maybe 10 percent. Our prescriptions continue to trend down just a little bit. Gas is going back up, but is still well below where it was when the salary cuts began. And we got rid of one car (that Charles had but wasn't using), so insurance will go down.

Inflation is not gone, however, and I've had two recent negative hits to the budget, one small, one big. The small one is the cable TV/Internet access bill, which just went up 3.22 percent. How can they justify this increase when times are so hard? The other is our mortgage, which went up a whopping $120 dollars due to an escrow deficiency. This is due to the imposition of city taxes. We voted to incorporate as a city (sorry all you Rhode Islanders who have no idea what I'm talking about, but we have territory out here that is in the county but not in a city; so were we until) November 2006, and the resulting City property taxes are now kicking in. So we have to pay. And I'm good with that; I voted in favor of incorporation. It's still a big budget hit, however.

So I'm kind of looking at my new move into freelance writing from a different perspective: not just to build a writer's platform and demonstrate literary competence, but also generate a little income. Emphasis on little, because in two hours a night and more time on the weekend, I'm not going to earn much. Still, if I could get an average of $100 a month, which is probably within reach, I would make up for that budget-busting mortgage.

Is this the new normal? Rather than pursue writing withing the abundance of my day job, to now pursue it via the freelance route as a near economic necessity? Perhaps that's a good thing. I can quit playing and become more serious. Time will tell.


Gary said...

Now that you're incorporated I hope you get trash pick up and city police protection for your $$$.

David A. Todd said...


We pay for trash pick-up, an add-on to our water bill. And we did add police protection. Previously this was handled by an adjunct office of the sheriff's department; that has been turned over to the City.