We Have a Plan

The Bean and I have a plan.

For all that I complain about living in Orange County, we’re not just hanging out here. It’s no secret that cost of living is through the roof. When I met the Bean, I was paying $865 for a tiny studio apartment in a not-so-great section of Long Beach. There was no assigned parking, and I sometimes had to park up to ½ mile away. There was no laundry facility. Utilities were not included. There was a balcony, but it appeared to be so flimsy that I never felt comfortable actually standing on it, and I’m usually not one to care about such things. The walls were paper thin, the place leaked like crazy when it rained, and the building was in such disrepair that the ceiling literally collapsed on my bed one morning.

When I told people what I was paying, the general consensus was that I was getting a fairly good deal. “Under 900? You have a kitchen with an oven? A balcony? That’s not bad… that’s not bad at all.”

So, yeah. The cost of living here sucks.

On the other hand, wages here are generally a lot higher than the rest of the country. They have to be, or we’d all be huddled beneath bushes.

So, there you go. Cost of living is high, but the wages are also high (in comparison with other parts of the country).

And the Bean and I have a plan.

We live with my parents and split the mortgage on the house with them. When we were blessed with my wonderful job early in January, we decided to do our best to continue living on the same shoestring budget we’ve always survived on. We made a few exceptions. We traded in my old 1986 clunkermobile for a new civic (my first legitimately “real” car with a “real” car payment ever). We also paid off a few people and allow ourselves to splurge and go out to dinner once every month or so. We each have a modest monthly budget of individual “play money” that we can spend on whatever we want, from Starbucks and the occasional singing lesson (me) to computer parts and car window tinting (the Bean.)

We make okay money, but we’re doing our best to shovel every spare penny into savings.

Sometimes it’s annoying.

In fact, sometimes it’s downright frustrating. I see other people my age with all sorts of toys and goodies. I watch other families go on vacations and visit theme parks. We turn down invitations to go to the movies because it’s not in our “budget” and put off trips to the grocery store because we’ve used up that weeks’ budget on food. I scour craigslist for deals and decorate my house through my weekly Saturday morning garage sale extravaganza. If the DragonMonkey owns a new toy, it’s because someone else bought it for him.

The budget is annoying and restrictive, but for the first time in my life, I have a savings account. Well, let me take that back.

For the first time in my life, I have a savings account with MONEY in it.

So I work my 50 hour weeks, and the Bean works his 60 hour weeks, and somewhere in the middle of all that he fits in school. We guard our family time closely, and frankly, I’m still not even sure how we managed to find the time to get pregnant with the Squidgelet. Maybe gmail chat didn’t have the proper firewalls up? Perhaps we texted each other too hard one evening?


As much as I complain about living in Orange County and my current lack of horses, the Bean and I have a plan. Every penny that goes into that savings account takes us one step closer to our Arizona ranch.

I’m not sure when our focus turned from Washington/Idaho/Montana to the sunburned desert, but somewhere along the way the Bean and I realized this was the only place the two of us both agreed upon. I wanted Montana. The Bean wanted North Dakota. We discussed eastern Washington and possibly Idaho.

Somehow we settled on Arizona?

Anyways, it makes sense to us. There’s something truly bewitching about the lonely, desolate space of the desert.

It’s alternately haunting and soothing, and to my eyes it’s always beautiful. After years of living in the Kern Valley, I’ve fallen in love with the way twilight seems to last forever in the desert. I love the feeling of a heat-wrapped summer evening, where the breeze stirs along your skin and it seems like your very bones relax into a quiet stillness. Plus, it’s hard to beat the allure of a place that lets you ride year-round when you’ve been horseless as long as I have.

The Bean likes it for his own reasons. He likes the angry, spiny plants, the relatively scarcity of neighbors and the lax gun control laws.

To each his own.


9 thoughts on “We Have a Plan

  1. Desert shmessert – come to Michigan and be my riding buddy ;). Heh heh! Really though, good for you. It truly is hard to save like that, but sooo worth it…I hope your dream is realized sooner rather than later.


  2. Sure hope your dreams come true..there are several bloggers from Arizona. One is called “7MSN”–Seven Miles South of Nowhere. The other is “Postcards from Arizona”. I would love having both as neighbors, but Indiana a looooong way from there!


  3. Keep saving, yep, it sucks now, but one day, you'll have horses to ride!

    We're doing similar things, but spare money is (supposedly) going into this house so we can sell it and move south.


  4. Hey Becky:
    I lived in Tucson AZ for close to 15 years, and trust me it was very hard to leave. Some of my best riding buddies still live there and I know the best riding I've ever done was in the AZ desert. You can truly see things from the horses back that you could never see any other way. Keep saving, your desert awaits!!


  5. Good for you and your plan! I hope you go visit the desert frequently before you move there–there's no point in having a huge savings account if you don't have some fun along the way, sez me!

    (of course, I just handed the contents of my savings account to the well-pump guy…but my dream home has running water again, so there ya go)

    There's some beautiful riding to be done in AZ. You should go there this year for a week, just to see it. Right?

    And hey, if you get dehydrated over there in Arizona, come visit the Swamp. We'd love to have y'all.


  6. I fully support your plan! Bad Pants and I have no idea where we'll land once his contract is up here in Georgia. He's been talking about moving closer to his parents in Idaho, since they're getting older. But, he is allergic to sage and hates the weather. So, we'll see…

    The Squidgelet is what happens when The Bean pokes fun at you and you take it seriously! 😉


  7. You should move to AZ! You can get your horse fix at my place, and I can have leverage in case you slack off on the blog. hehe. I have been following your blog for long time. Wait that makes me sound like stalker! ugh.
    I can gladly answer any questions you have about AZ, feel free to hit me up :).


  8. Kim— I love the idea of having a horse buddy/contact over in Arizona. Phaedra's given me some great blogs to follow (Pssst… Phaedra? 7MSN is is New Mexico!) but it's not quite the same as actually “knowing” someone over there.

    You don't seem to have a link to a blog or an email address– shoot me an email or let me know what your blog is so I can follow along 🙂 For the record, we're looking near the Phoenix area, and the move is pretty firmly slated to occur ABSOLUTELY NO LATER than 4 years from now (probably closer to 2 or 2.5). Goodbye, California!

    And don't worry about coming off as stalkerish— nobody can beat how creepy I was the first time Mugs took some time off. I turned into a creepy, psycho, stalker-internet person trying to find her somewhere online so I could get my Mugs writing fix. It wasn't pretty!


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