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Archive for February, 2010

Music to My Ears

February 24th, 2010 at 11:22 pm

After reading the comments to my last post, and responding to them, I decided to attempt a(nother) conversation with Mr H regarding my car. I've been attempting these conversations since my car approached ten years in age. Usually my concerns were met with vague responses and when I pressed for specifics Mr H would start to sputter and yell. Not conducive for problem solving, to say the least.

I realize that my last post and my response to comments may have sounded a tad whiney. I'm pretty discouraged in many areas concerning Mr H. All I can say is - if you are single choose your life partner very carefully. I'm a shining bad example of what not to do in that department.

The short version of the following is below the asterisks:

Setting the stage:
I chose a reasonable time (Daisy was in bed) and approached quietly.

When to replace:
I told Mr H that I had been thinking about my car, and what criteria we might use to decide to replace it. He told me about the four vehicles he'd owned: Truck 1 was replaced when he'd spent $500 every six months fixing it. Truck 2 was replaced when he'd spent $500 every six months fixing it, plus he just wanted something new. Truck 3 (purchased a month before he met me) was sold 1-1/2 years ago when gas prices reached $4+ per gallon (truck got 15 mpg). Car 1 is an economical Honda purchased used from his folks, who took meticulous care of it.

I asked if there was a dollar limit in repairs at which he felt my car ought to be replaced. We easily spent $2000 fixing it last year. He couldn't really come up with one. I pondered if the $500 every six months was felt more in the 1980's, when his finances weren't very stable. Our finances are reasonably stable; we set aside money for car repairs so while it's a hit financially we aren't wondering where our mortgage payment is coming from. He agreed that this could be true.

In the end, he really didn't come up with a dollar limit. But he believed that if the engine or the transmission needed to be replaced the car should be replaced. Success! I believe this too, so we are in agreement here.

How much to spend:
Without really knowing how much a "good" used car costs, I had thought $5000. He suggested $10,000 as a figure. (The Honda was between $9000 and $10,000.) I agreed.

What to purchase:
He suggested another small Honda. I told him that if my car dies before Daisy leaves I'd like to replace it with a mini van. I'm entering serious kid-hauling years and frequently haul more kids than just Daisy; I'd like a kid-hauling vehicle. After she leaves home we'd downsize the vehicle. He agreed, although, again, neither of us really know what a "good" used min-van would cost. And, I suppose, it depends on your definition of good. My car is likely to go at some point after 200,000 miles. The clock is broken, the tape player is broken, the paint is chipping in spots and I'm taking it in this week to get a seatbelt replaced. A vehicle with 100,000 miles on it could look pretty good to me!

Where the money is coming from:
We'd been doing pretty well in our conversation, and so I brought up the big question. . . the fight starting question. . . where is the money going to come from? He is going to be negotiating a raise with his employer this week. He suggested that we table this conversation until March 1st so we'd know how much, but then. . . he said the words I'd longed to hear since I started these conversations seven or eight years ago: "I think we should set aside money every paycheck specifically for it. If we don't do that we will just spend the money on something else." Be still, my heart!

Now I'll wait to see if he brings it back up on the first. . . if not, I'll bring it back up later.

**************

The end result was that we had a suprisingly reasonable conversation that ended in agreement on when to replace, how much to spend, what to purchase and where the money is coming from. No yelling or sputtering was involved.

Mr H's Car

February 21st, 2010 at 05:33 am

Mr H's car was damaged in an accident last week.

Fortunately Mr H was not in the car. Someone's car wouldn't start and that person was pushing said car and lost control of it. Also fortunately said person had insurance. Mr H's car sustained body damage but apparently is okay otherwise. He is now working to get it fixed.

In a different conversation he mentioned taking my car to get it fixed this summer while Daisy and I go visit my family. My car sustained damage to its front bumper a couple of years ago when Mr H was pressure washing the house. Did you know that the exhaust from a pressure washer is hot and will melt the plastic bumper on a car if the exhaust pipe gets too close to it? Neither did I.

Mr H's declaration was music to my ears. After I discovered the burn mark on my bumper I asked Mr H about it. He swore he didn't do it. Then, when he realized he did do it, he didn't apologize for it. I took my car in and got an estimate for the fix. . . but worse than the estimate (body work is never cheap) was the number of days I'd need to be without my car - three to five, I think. I don't remember now. I live in suburbia. I figured I'd get no cooperation from Mr H with getting around and so the burn mark sits there.

Now that Mr H is dealing with someone else (besides him) causing damage to his vehicle, I think he's starting to understand why I was (and still am, kind of) upset by the damage to my car. It wasn't the damage so much as Mr H's unwillingness to accept any sort of responsibility for his actions, at least the ones that cause problems. It's a pattern of his, and it's hard to live with. But if he does get it fixed this summer I'll feel better.

*****

I also have come up with a plan for when my car finally dies. It is a 17 year old Toyota, running pretty well, but it has 194,000 miles on it. I'm hoping that it will keep going until Daisy is done with high school but if not here's what I'm going to do: take some money from the emergency fund and buy a used car. I think I can do this with help from my car guys. I'm not mechanically savy but I do have good car guys. I don't love this plan and hope that I can come up with a better one, but I feel better at least having something lined up.

*****

There has been no change under the bench at ballet. I checked when there were no other ballet moms around.

Missed Opportunity

February 12th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Twice weekly I sit on a bench in a hallway, waiting while Daisy takes a dance class. The bench is quite long - room for many parents - it sits like an old church pew. Earlier this week while I sat waiting a child came by with his mom. "Hey, look, there's money!" he exclaimed as he looked under the opposite end of the bench from me.

I tried to watch without staring as he pulled the change from under the bench. . . two pennies and a nickel. He and his mom had quite a discussion about his keeping the money, and after asking me if it was mine (I was the only person sitting on the bench at the time) she convinced him that he could keep it.

After he left I thought, I'm looking under the bench the next time I come to dance.

********

I chose not to take the "job" I was offered in November - I just didn't feel comfortable with the group. A friend of mine left her one day per week job and was going to recommend me for it, but that didn't work out either.

My pursuit of goals fizzled out at the end of last year, and hasn't really picked up this year. I have hard time emotionally during December, and it usually continues through mid-February. Additionally, a family member died right before Christmas.

Mr H's coworker retired; Mr. H is likely to get some kind of a raise. I believe he and his boss are negotiating it this month.

I listed an item on Craig's list only moments ago. I tried selling homeschool materials on Craig's list a few times but didn't get any takers.

Still feeling like I need to get my head together!