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Thanksgiving Chili, Video Games, and Housing Decisions (November 22-28)

I've returned to blogging because I miss writing, particularly about personal finance. But I've realized that I don't want to structure it by topic the way I did when I was writing at The $76K Project. Somehow, that feels like too much work. 

Instead, I'm going to try going with a weekly journal format. More informal! Less pressure! No real research necessary! I plan to blog as lazily as possible.

So here's the rundown for Thanksgiving week:


My partner worked on Monday and Tuesday; I worked Monday through Wednesday. I spent the longest short week ever answering customer questions about a Black Friday sale and counting down the hours to the holiday weekend. 

I'm supposed to dive into my new role next week, although I get the impression that I'll be juggling elements of both jobs for another month or two. I'm nervous about the new gig and will miss my friendly, supportive teammates. However, I'm so burnt out on customer service that I'm willing to take the chance. Replying to emails is fine and even enjoyable, but answering calls? Nope. One year in, my phone phobia hasn't budged an inch. I get nervous literally every time the phone rings and no amount of positive self-talk has helped mitigate the anxiety. In addition to that, I'm bored and unmotivated, and past experience has taught me that I won't last long if I'm in that frame of mind. Time to move on (and hope it doesn't suck).


Our holidays tend to be relaxed and low-key. This year was no different: it was just me, my kid, and my partner. We made a yummy but easy Thanksgiving meal (vegetarian chili, calzones, and pumpkin cake), watched some television, and called our relatives to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Later in the weekend, we set up our fake tree and decorated it with lights and glass ornaments.

My partner and son spent much of their break at the climbing gym, where my son practices at least 3-4 times a week. As for me, I mostly played video games, baked carbohydrate-laden treats, grazed on leftovers, mindlessly scrolled Twitter, and checked out the depressingly inflated local real estate listings. Usually I'm far more active, but I'm supposed to chill out for a couple of weeks to let some stitches on my leg heal. My doctor expects me to be a couch slug. I intend to deliver.


We made some significant money decisions this week. 

Decision 1: If I had just one wish, I'd wish for our own house. But I don't think it's in the cards right now.

We could probably get a decent home loan. The problem is that the houses with the amenities and location we want are all running for at least $450-$500K. These homes are being sold within 2-3 days of the initial listing, often sight unseen to people with cash offers. There are also a few apartments available for the rock-bottom price of $200-$300K, but I am not taking out a loan of that size just to share walls, floors, and ceilings with my neighbors.

In addition to the fact that half a million dollars is a boatload of money, there's also the interest to consider. Like... you want me to pay half a million for a house and then another $100K-$200K on top of that? No thank you.

It's incredibly frustrating, honestly, because only rich people can afford these prices. But for what we'd be getting, we don't feel comfortable spending that much on housing.

Decision 2: In better news, we realized that with our increased salaries, we should be able to max out our retirement accounts in 2022. I never thought that would happen! 

I'll be able to invest $20,500 in my 401K, and my employer will deposit 4% of my salary on top of that.

My partner just turned 50, so he'll get to invest up to $27,000, plus his 5% employer match.

This is... a lot of money that would be diverted to investments. I'm not entirely sure we can swing it, but we're going to try; we can always dial it back if we need to. 

I don't want to speak too soon since I am the queen of finding and quitting shitty jobs, but if we can max out these accounts for 10-15 years in an okay market, we may actually be in decent shape for retirement, which I can't quite believe yet!

How was your holiday? How are you feeling about your finances as we head into the last month of 2021?


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