Looking for the Payoff

Sometimes I wonder where I am going with the new “freedom” in my life. My children are finally on their own, leaving my husband and I to play together and apart, depending upon our moods and which hunting season it is. I am pulling away from the necessity of being a “model” employee and actually entertain dreams of doing a little traveling someday. Even though our bills are out of this rarefied atmosphere, I still manage to believe that by watching TV in the dark and not turning on the air until its 90, I will be able to squeeze enough blood out of the turnip and put it in my savings account for a rainy day.

I realize that the peak that I stand upon is a precarious one indeed. Any gust of wind, any fluctuation in temperature, might turn the entire direction of my future upside down, reassuring me of a world of mountainous debt, not to mention being the oldest Webbie in history. How do those of us caught between Woodstock and Country Thunder survive? How do we find our way through the maze of downsizing, upgrading and specialization that threatens our financial future?

Sometimes I fear this gap between having “more” and having “not much” will burst the few bubbles I have left floating around in my head. After all, isn’t the preverbal rainbow just around the corner? Isn’t that pot of gold just waiting for me to discover it? I’d like to think that there will be money left in social security for me and my friends. That I will be able to afford healthcare when I’m 75. That there will BE healthcare when I’m 75. I want my “golden years” to have more of a twinkle of gold than the smudge of soot.

I know the financial choices I made in life were the right ones for me. I know that making a little less money through the years was merely the down payment for the love and devotion I get from my children and husband and our two stupid dogs every day. But there are times I wonder if I could have put a little more money to the side for me along with the next payment. That I could have, should have, stayed in the same job a little longer, spent a little less on groceries, or not bought the unicorn plates that hang over my sliding patio door. I know I could have skipped my long-ago trip to Las Vegas, I could have let my youngest pay for his own laptop, and I could have let my son’s in-laws pay for the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.

What concerns me now is how I’m going to get from here to there. How I can retire at 67 instead of 87. How I can still buy gifts for my grand kids and not have to eat cottage cheese every night for dinner. They tell you on TV that what you save will never be enough. That’s a frightening thought.

Common sense in spending habits is really the answer. Bigger is not always better, but big in sporadic portions can be done. Paying off credit card debt is smarter than opening up new lines of credit. Walking alone or with the dogs is cheaper exercise than health clubs. It’s the one-dollar-for-me one-dollar-for-you way of thinking. You can always start today. It might not be the payoff you dreamt of, but it’s certainly a solid step into the future.

Part of me is naively waiting for the big pay off. The jackpot. The book sale that will propel me into the world of Rowling and King. The winning lottery ticket that will pay off my debt and leave me a little extra for that trip to Ireland. The inheritance from someone I’ve totally forgotten about. Until then, though, I will keep working and paying off my bills, stashing what I can on the side, finding a way to spend a little less on the kids and grand kids.

After all, my kids remind me that if I don’t behave it will be them who choose my nursing home.

I’d better behave. Or give them an extra bonbon.

1 Comment

  1. Good post. Many of us who are in the same boat are trying to find that balance in our life between eating caviar and eating cottage cheese.

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