Friday, February 03, 2012

When I Was Rich....

Nobody talks about her/his financial situation on the blogs. I don't either, but I have no doubt there are times when alittle or alot of money makes life easier and fun and not enough brings challenges and stress.

I am lucky to have bathed in abundant waters for a brief awesome time. Just about six years ago JB and I sold the house we had lived in for twenty years. It was a magficent pink and grey Victorian duplex with three floors and 14 rooms. When we bought it the kitchen was home to three rusty refrigerators, the elegant pocket doors were used for dart practice, and some of the rooms were so cluttered that it was not possible to enter them.

The place was in bad shape but it had solid bones. Slowly, year by year we made improvements.
We sold our house at the height of a housing boom and with the knowledge that one hour later we could never afford to buy it back. We then bought #9, a modest seven room executive ranch house in the Pioneer Valley and for the first six months we were very rich. By very rich I mean we were able to fix up this new house all at once and in some cases splurge without any hint of normal caution.

For example:

we remodeled an old three season porch and made it super cozy
we bought an outdoor hot tub and put it just outside the cozy porch
we installed recessed lighting in the living room complete with 4 sets of dimmers
& garage doors that open and close when you push a clicker
We put a ceiling fan in the bathroom that has a heater for when we get out of the shower,
fenced in our property so we no longer feel like we're on a main street
took a trip to Italy
insulated and painted the shed in the yard and created JB's Magic Cottage Studio
chose new lighting for every room
refinished the floors, &
paid someone else to dig up and till my garden space

There was more. We weren't totally reckless with this cash windfall but we weren't confined either. We made our selections and choices with tasteful, creative, and fabulous abandon.

Unlike now.

Last month I pulled out the bills and the checkbook and set about the task of making do with less. JB has deservedly cut her work hours back and if we don't figure out how to manage what we have now, we'll be risking and having problems in our future.

Money is such a personal and challenging issue for most people. It's a fact that when you have more you will spend more and where ever you fall on the continuum between reckless and miserly will remain the same. My own view is that I wish to be generous with myself and others, but I don't want to drag along debt and worry I can't control. Thus my effort and attention to not to spend a whole lot more than we have.

I also know that it is ludicrous to think of being rich in terms of money. Family, friends, health, purpose, passion: that is the currency I covet. In any situation, whenever I can, I choose abundance.

The heyday of a monetary windfall is likely over for me. (Maybe not, you never know) (grin). I'm back to weighing priorities, saving for the fun stuff, being sure we have an emergency reserve when not if the unexpected happens.

But I'm still rich. I know what feeds me.

End of story.

love kj


  1. I think of myself as rich, even though financially I"m far from it. There are so many blessings in my life, though, and people who love me.

    My basic financial principal is to live at or below my means - I want to be able to retire someday and also to send my kids to school and help them when they need it, so I can happily live without much in the way of extravagance. I have a solid house, and plenty of food and don't worry about being able to pay my bills. All things considered, that's rich enough for me.

  2. kj I have been homeless with no money, sleeping on park benches and eating two or three times a week. I have also had times where through honest work I made four to five thousand a week. Not now, I have a home, no money, and a certanty that the future will provide just what I need...If I do what I can to help it along. LOL I have to laugh at what you concider "modest"...


  3. cs, i just love hearing you talk like this! ysy! yay! yay! on the day i paid the last of jess' college tuition i felt an actual weight fly off me and the future was all light :^)

    chris, it's obvious that every experience you've had adds richness and authenticity to your writing and who you are. there's no pricetag for that. my house is actually pretty modest. it is a one level ranch house, period, and not large. JB and i have done a nice job prettying it up but i don't think any one would walk in and see the place for more than it is.

  4. Kj, I hope you know that I was just laughing at the difference of prospective. You have earned your home and going from a thirteen bedroom to a seven must have felt like a huge downsizing. My hope for you is that you gain the finincal security you need, to live the life you desire, without the fear that you may not have enough to pay for next months rice. Here is a funny thing for you...all of those experances that have shaped me(but not taught me how to spell) have happened early in my life, and at the age of 34 I get to live a way I was never able to before...

    How is the book coming along?

    And to say it again I realy like your writing. When I read you it is like listning to a realy great orator, not many have that!

    What I want from life is to do what I love and get paid for it...not many fantacy reader jobs out there, so I guess I will just have to try writing

  5. I've been happy when we had nothing and happy when we had lots. (of money). I'm happiest with those I love - rich or poor.

    Much more to say on this subject but I have to go meet a friend that I love and that makes me very happy

  6. love back to u kj, for this lovely post!! u DO ptut things in perspective :-)

  7. Amen. I think learning to live within one's means can be a fun and creative challenge, no matter how limited those means. I have started reading a couple of blogs in an effort to be better at it than I am already (which is pretty good after a lifetime of frugality). People are only as rich as they think they are and it has little to do with money. I know some people who buy their 17 year olds a 5 year old car and still profess poverty. Man, I'd LOVE to own a 5 year old car and I'm a lot older than 17! Check out these two places:

  8. Hey girl, I've been there. Sold our big house at the height and bought this little city house and then proceeded to gut a kitchen, build a terrace, refinish floors, went to Italy, went to England, went broke. Well, not really, but the river is now a rivulet again. But hey, it was so much fun and we did accomplish a lot.

    Friends and family DO make me feel rich!


  9. You bet, we are rich in all the ways that count and will still count in the end.

    I grew up being frugal, actually more than just frugal, and have always been comfortable doing so.
    I can only wear one pair of jeans at a time.

    I have possibly overspent a time or two on art supplies, but I forgive myself,,,it's such a tiny indulgance.

  10. I considered myself rich once. Rich enough to not have to live exactly paycheck to paycheck. I supposed that is hardly rich by most standards, but having at one time been raising two kids on an income of $13,00 per year before taxes???? We were fucking rich.

    Now, I shop at the dollar store, and have a list of my bills next to a computer with the date they are due. every extra dime I make is put into savings so my son can attend college at the end of this month (and those assholes at Paypal decided there was some issue with my account and now freeze all my art sales for 21 days. They won't tell me why and they are in no hurry to change it!)

    Ya know KJ...I think the only people for which finances are private and delicate are the extremely well to do (I could be wrong). The poor seem to have no problem saying, "I'm strapped...and by the way there is a sale on toilet paper at Wal-mart. Go get yourself some." The wealthy don't want you to know how much they spend on themselves, nor should they be required to tell. Just sayin'.

    By the way...Fox Farm wine is only $1.98 at Save-Mart. Paired with a $1.00 package of vermicelli and a 2 for $5 bottle of marinara? Almost priceless.

    I'm glad you lived rich for awhile. I think everyone should experience such a thing. What a pipe dream, eh?

  11. "Temporary windfall." Hell, KJ,I thought you were rich cause you live in style and travel frequently. I guess this means that I probably shouldn't ask you for that large loan that brought me here today. Darn! The problem with being poor is that you don't know a lot of rich people to bum off of.

  12. oh boy, i guess it is all in the perspective. it would be really nice to not have to balance the check book all the time.

    and i think if i could just buy experiances and not stuff, i would love to be rich. like everyone else, i still feel it, and after spending much of my life in developing countries, i know i am.

    it's awesome that you were able to do all those things kj, when you were rich.

  13. thank you so much, chris. your compliment has swelled my head and i like it! :^) my career advice to you, and i know about this, is to put yourself where you want to be (one way or another) as for my circumstance, i am really very fortunate. i am secure enough to take my chances, at least sometimes :^)

    mim, you are family to me and i know the worth of how much you love. i and others in your life are most lucky xo

    how do we know, hello! thank you. i learn so much from your perspective so i'm glad i offer something in return. xo

    andrea, i always think i can make things happen, money included. so i dream freely, and sometimes i jump! but i'm with you about enjoying the challenge of making do work. i like figuring it out.

    ms s, what is the value of a blossoming heartfelt friendship? as and me? ♥

  14. babs, oooh, new avatar photo. hello xo! you have that midwestern sensibility, babs. i''m glad you make an exception for art supplies. i'm like that in bookstores and garden centers and certain ethnic restaurants. :^) (actually, i spend my share plus of money. but i know when to pull back when i should)

    annie, if JB and I had a hankering to go back to italy, or get ourselves to paris for a week or so, i would have the means and imagination to somehow make it happen. i consider that rich all by itself. it sounds like necessity insists that you don't lose sight of your priorities. and it sounds like you have your own means and imagination. ah, money. it's as old as dirt. i wonder what societies would be like if there was no need for it. that's my pipedream. ♥

    snow, hahahahaheehahahahee! we just might be in the same boat, who knows? i definitely am not poor, i do know that. i am definitely rich when compared to my clients. and maybe to many others. i do have to prioritize. and your last sentence: how freaking true. as in, the rich get richer....

    lori, yes! me too: it's the experiences that matter most to me. although i will also say that fixing up the places i have lived is for me orgasmic in its own way. it's such a concrete and creative process, to remodel a kitchen, for example. xo

  15. Wonderful that you were able to have your day in the sun, as it were. At least now you are thinking ahead, and not at the very last moment, which is good.
    I wish you continued abundance, kj.

    1. thanks barbara, i wish abundance for you too

  16. "People are only as rich as they think they are and it has little to do with money."
    I like those words from Andrea and believe them to be true.

    I don't think I have much to add to the pot here, except to say... I have been rich, but there are richer... I have been poor, but there are poorer.

    Interesting post kj

    1. ah robyn! i followed lori's directions and here i am commenting right under your comment! what you said: me too :^)

  17. We do very nicely on "enough." That is a big word in our vocabulary.

    We've always been of modest means — lower middle class. But we have lived comfortably. "Enough" is the word.

    The downside for you is having to look after emily rabbit. My fear is that she will cost you the fortune that you do not have. With 13 rooms, you may have to take in borders. Or else relocate emily to Bogland Lane. Permanently.

    1. bear, enough. that is an important word, isn't it? as for emily, it seems she has multiple sources for her nefarious ways. sometimes i envy her.... :^)

  18. I grew up at a time when the saying went "If you have money, you don't talk about it. If you don't have money, you don't talk about it", neither religion or politics were to be discussed along with money and we were expected to make the papers only with our birth announcement, our wedding "participation" and our obituary. And guess what? like Nora I say hell and damnation to that. No more doll houses for me at my old age.

    We live comfortably, whatever little money we have to spend goes to Kiva. We have made over 234 loans there and continue to do so every month. It is our giving back to the world, now that we cannot travel because of health issues that is our fun money, and we are people of modest taste, like Oscar Wilde we are content with the best.

    The best food we can afford, the best time we can have, the best people who we call our friends, the best loving we can share, and so I would say, we are immensely rich. We have a puppydom and a feline Grand Duchess who dominates all of us and we are happy to serve. We have mason bees starting to stir, and seeds to plant and so there may be may be one less purchase not needed but certainly looked at it several times that will fade in the light of more important things, and we will look not with pride but with amazement as how rich we are.

    That to me, honestly, is what being rich is all about.

  19. Been living modestly all my life, and I am grateful for my blessings. I will be totally honest, however, and tell you that I long to win the lottery. I can't stand to see people in despair and would be the happiest person on earth if I were rich enough to really make a financial difference in some lives (and see some of the world myself).

    A house down the street went for auction a few months ago. The woman who used to own it was raising her kid and had adopted her sister's twin daughters and their very-troubled teen brother. Her commute to work is 80 miles each day. It killed me when she lost the day they were there, and the next day gone. I see the twins walking around town and they seem to have adjusted to the move to a rental.

    But the day of the auction, after all was bid and done and the high bidder (whose bid lowered the property value for all the rest of us in the neighborhood) was being congratulated by those with him I stepped out into the middle of the street and called out loudly: "I think it is important that you know this. The woman who used to live here was raising her own child and her adopted children. They were a nice family. This was their home." The small crowd, two auctioneers and fucking banker included, stood frozen.--In total silence they watched me walk back to my own yard and inside my own house....

    Yes. I want to win the lottery.

  20. Kj, To me you really are rich. Anyone who has TWO homes and is able to work part time and go on not one, but many trips a year, is rich, and of course you have the real riches of family and friends.
    Next to you I am dirt poor, but I am doing much better, I now have savings and I am able to buy things like dog crates :-). I feel rich in money and friends and talent and love. Remember to stay loose :-). xoxo

  21. Many wise and witty comments. KJ, you ARE rich in the real sense....a loving partner, wonderful family (including your Blogging one)....and you still have your beautiful Mum a few miles away to hug. $$$$-wise, you are richer than know that.

    I have been blessed to grow up comfortably, to travel, to buy many pairs of shoes (a-ha-ha), to *bail* Emilwee out of jail a few times... three years ago, when I lost everything (but my Faith) that was my Life, I felt, for the first time, fear of not having enough to survive... but then, at my lowest ebb, I *met* Renee, then you, Lo, Suki, Mim....and I became instantly rich with real, loving, through a stroke of good fortune, I am securer financially than I while not rich in $...I am *comfortable*...friend-wise, I am one of the wealthiest women in the world! It's great!

    Love to you and JB....

    ♥ Robin ♥

  22. I am contented with what I have. Like a cat with a warm windowsill. :) But like everyone else, I worry about having enough for the future. I guess the trick is always to enjoy the ride, and at the same time, keep an eye on the horizon. As my ma would say, "Tuck something away for that rainy day." I've got everything I need. Still...that hot tub, Kj - hahah! xox

  23. I am rich in so many other ways than money- will have to work till I am about 67 blah! But life can be good without money too! Love your words, your sage wisdom and your quote too! Love you xxx

  24. I have been in both categories~~with and without.
    And I find that what makes either one good are the intangibles; the good cup of coffee in the morning, the closeness of friends, those moments of change of season.
    I learned to live frugally during a *without* spell, and now I find it a challenge that I enjoy, which of course lets me be a little more lavish on things I enjoy~~art supplies, YARN(!!!), more art get the picture.
    Being *rich* is as much a state of mind as it is state of budget.
    And friendship is utterly priceless! :-)


  25. 'Rich,' like 'Beauty,' has all kinds of means in which it can be measured... I tend to lean more towards the Spiritual Richness these days... as well as Spiritual Beauty...

    I love the Cherokee saying at the top of the post... I am fond of Native American sayings... they make way too much sense...