On Affording my Lifestyle

“Do you ever worry about saving up a bunch of money for the day you might retire?” my friend Kate asked me.  “No,” I responded.  “So you really do just live in the moment?” she asked.  “Well, I mean, I do have savings.  I try to put the max in my Roth every year and all that,” I explained to Kate.  “But I’m nowhere near saving what I need to if I wanted to stop working some day.  But I just have this feeling it will all fall into place.”

Where does this feeling come from?  Well, past experience I guess.  Because everything always has just fallen into place when it needed to (not necessarily when I wanted it to though!).  When I drove cross-country in 2002, I had a lease on an apartment and car payments to make.  So what did I do?  Found a sub-letter on craigslist for my apartment and, in exchange for two months of car payments, lent a friend my car.

Now some of you tell me you read my blog to live vicariously through me. Others of you want to know how to do what I do.  If you’re the latter, you probably didn’t think either idea too off the mark.  You want to know how I did it.  And to you I say: if you have any interest in doing things a little outside the box, start thinking outside the box.  And be open to what life throws your way.

Finding anything on craigslist requires you to be a good judge of character.  If you’re not, don’t use craigslist.  And don’t try on-line dating for that matter.  In reviewing the responses to my ad for a subletter, anyone who couldn’t properly punctuate an e-mail didn’t receive a response from me.  And of those who sent valid inquiry e-mails, my roommate and I chose a few to interview.  I needed someone who would pay the bills, my roommate needed someone she could live with for two months.  The woman we ended up choosing had a photography business, was very pleasant, and was unsure if she wanted to marry the fiance with whom she was living.  She wanted two months living apart from him to decide.  I have no idea how that turned out, but she was a fabulous subletter.

Now I would not lend my car to someone on craigslist.  I hadn’t really thought of what to do about my car payments, and was joking with a friend that I should just lend it to someone in exchange for my payments.  “Would you do that?” she asked.  “Well, maybe,” I said.  “Because my husband and I could use a second car,” she offered.  We worked out the arrangements and I was without a car payment for two months.  And since we were driving my boyfriend’s car for our trip, I didn’t have to worry about where mine would sit – it was going to be driven around Brooklyn.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you really want something to happen, it’s not necessarily lots of money that you need.  If anything, you just need less stuff to worry about.  Which is part of the reason I like apartment living.  When I go to the Folk School for 4 months, I don’t need to find someone to do the lawn or watch the house.  I can find a sub-letter.  Or I can just calculate rent into my savings for that adventure.  I’ll shut off the internet and the electricity, and take off.

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