We are committed to paying off our consumer debt by next fall.
We have a new, disciplined, austere budget that we plan to stick to. It will not be a lot of fun.
But we still want to have fun sometimes
I was in graduate school for 8 years, balancing writing, working, and parenting. Through all of that, a lot of things were placed on the back burner. One of those things was couple time.
The Dude and I tried to carve out fun when we could, but there was never enough downtime, and never enough play time. I believe this was a huge contributor to our close call . Obviously we need to prioritize time together.
But more than that, I want to have fun. So many weekends of my life have been spent writing, grading, class prepping, meal prepping, house cleaning, grocery shopping. My kids are adults now and I have a PhD and a 9-5 job (actually a M-Th 7-5:30 job). I want me time. The Dude’s illness reminded us that tomorrows are not guaranteed to look like we want them to, or guaranteed at all.
The thing I want most, that I have missed the most, is the weekend getaway, just the Dude and I. Over the grad school years, we would take jaunts for birthdays and anniversaries. I would feel a weight lift as we exited town. The Dude would say things like, “I remember you” and “Nice to see you again” and note it was the first time he heard a genuine laugh from me in a very long time. That is what getaways are to me. But we have this debt to focus on.
We wanted fun, but we need to pay off debt as well…
Enter the Gig Economy
Cy has started driving for food delivery apps. It is a fairly straightforward way to make money with a low bar to entry.
The part that was most intriguing to me was that The Dude and I could go out together. I wasn’t interested in spending more time apart so that we could spend time together. But with delivery driving, I can tag along! Of course, we could each have a side gig and then would earn more. But this isn’t about maximizing our earnings. This is about earning enough to afford weekend getaways while not cutting into our debt-slaying and also still spending time together.
Will work on the weekends for the weekend
The plan as hatched is this: The Dude has signed up for a delivery app and we go out together on the weekend and I keep him company and help with navigation while he drives, picks up, and delivers food. We go out and do this a few hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
The earnings pay for our weekend getaways. So, we spend weekends together while he delivers and then we spend a weekend together having fun.
Driving around in stressful situations forces reflection
We thought this would be fun, and often it is. But it is also stressful and irritating and frustrating. Driving around on dark, unfamiliar streets, dealing with new technology and trying to find house numbers help bubble many marital frustrations to the top.
I will keep the specifics private, but we have been learning to:
- Navigate the lines between micromanaging and helping
- Give and receive appreciation for each other’s unique skills and gifts
- Think about the other’s needs in a specific situation and act accordingly
These little things come up in daily life and it is easy to brush them aside and go on with our lives. But when we are in the car together, doing the tricky thing-wow do they become larger. Instead of quitting or living in anger, we have chosen to deal with them. The first weekend was rough, with lots of squabbling and soul searching and discussion. The second weekend was an opportunity to apply some of the lessons learned. It was much smoother and more harmonious, and these lessons are carrying over into our daily lives and are leading to a stronger relationship overall.
The plan at this point is to work 2 weekends per month, Friday and Saturday night shifts. At least 1 weekend will be a weekend at home to laze about, spend time with family, and also catch up on things. And we are striving for a getaway about once a month.
We have driven for two weekends, are still in the learning curve phase of on-the-job, seat-of-our-pants self-directed training. Even so, we have earned enough this quickly to pay for our first weekend getaway!