Feeling stretched thin? Holding tight to your money? There’s a lot of that going around. I’m glad that I saw a bit of lightening this week. Maybe soon it will be easier to stretch, massage, and relax those financial muscles. They can do so much more when they’re loosened.
I dance. This is not news to anyone I know on the island. My party on Saturday had the usual format: “Casual Casual”. Usually it starts with a couple of hours of chat, and then eventually switches over to dancing. Hardwood floors are meant to be used. This party was different. Chatting lasted less than an hour because soon almost everyone was dancing. Pity the writers that showed up who suddenly didn’t have as many folks to talk to. People wanted to move it and shake it – and waltz it.
Times may be tight, but we must continue to live, so parties will continue to happen. Fortunately, relaxed parties don’t cost much and are worth a lot.
My more significant costs are the mortgage and various insurances. Almost exclusively my cash comes from selling stocks. My portfolio remains dismal and selling now is the opposite of “Buy low. Sell high.”, but sell I must. I’m holding onto bills longer than usual, spending less (I’m not even signing up for dance classes!), and taking advantage of grace periods.
Paying bills later does not make them smaller. But in my case, waiting a week or so in November opens the opportunity for Dendreon to report earnings and possibly increase the price of DNDN. Nothing has diminished my buyout valuation for DNDN of above $60, possibly as high as $120. Selling at around $10 is definitely not preferred, but unfortunately would be necessary if I sold today. Maybe next week’s news will move the stock up.
In the meantime I continue to live a frugal life. Except for the dance classes and some house maintenance, most of my daily life is the same. I write. I visit friends. I walk. I take photographs. I run my business (Trimbath Creative Enterprises). I continue to learn how to relax and enjoy life, particularly this moment. That’s a skill I didn’t learn in my first few decades.
Two bright spots showed up in the last few days.
I listed my house for sale. No. Considering selling the first house that I consider a home is not a bright spot. But zillow.com is an online real estate site with an interesting feature. They make it possible to post a “Make Me Move” price. The house doesn’t have to be for sale. Mine isn’t. But it tells the world what it would take to make me move. I decided on $374,450. They think the house’s market value is $249,800. But the house’s value to me is the land plus the structure plus the emotional attachment. Any price affixed to an emotion is arbitrary and abstract. If I sold at $374,450 I’d feel an emotional loss, but pragmatism in this society demands that bills be paid. I’d move, but I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I’d also be thankful for the opportunity to reinvest, possibly buy low, and possibly buy the house back some day. It could happen (so says the internal emotional rationalization.)
The housing bright spot was zillow’s housing estimator. Zillow produces a chart showing estimates and trends for houses like mine within the local city, zip code, and specifically for my house. The data may be sparse. I don’t know their algorithm. But their guess is that my house’s market price bottomed months ago and has recovered more than 20% from the dip. My neighborhood and the surrounding area also seem to be rising. There might just be demand for small houses with good views in neighborhoods that have marinas. It might be a very specific market niche, but it’s good news for my very specific market niche. I’ll take good news in these thin and tight times.
My business (writing, photography, speaking, teaching, and consulting) until recently has been secondary to learning to relax and enjoy life. I was semi-retired, remember? Well, my financial world has thinned and tightened like many, so I’ve devoted more time to my business. I’m less likely to hide my light under a bushel. I’m more likely to expand my publicity and to extend my range. Luckily, I enjoy my work. Fortunately, my efforts are beginning to pay off. Classes are filling. Consultations are increasing. Speaking events are coming in unsolicited. I’ve had more book and photo sales (thank you Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour, Raven Rocks Gallery, and interior designers). The second bright spot is that the business has reimbursed me for some incidentals. I continue to fill its accounts in anticipation of a larger project for next year, and it looks like it will be able to thrive instead of merely sustain, but it also may be able to start paying me. That’s nice after its thin and tight times.
If the real estate market loosens, as my business fills, with a return to rational stock valuations, my financial life will become less thin and tight. Imagine a financial life that is fat and loose. That sounds relaxed and enjoyable, productive and philanthropic, exuberant and expansive. Dancing will commence – maybe with some sweet little thin and tight moves.