My memories of Memorial Day are strongly tied to my high school marching band. We didn’t have a big band (only about 30 kids) and we weren’t a great band. However, every year on Memorial Day, we’d pull out our marching band uniforms for the only time all year to march in the parade that would ultimately lead us to the cemetery in town. There we’d play the national anthem, God Bless America and then one of our trumpet players would play “taps”.
I remember that the crowd for the parade seemed to thin a little more every year. I remember that it always seemed to rain. I remember watching the members of the VFW as they stood at attention during “taps”, with their hats and jackets letting you know which war they’d fought in. I remember that, even though the crowd was small and the average age was at least 60, there was a pride and sadness that filled the people of my small community, remembering those who had fought and not come home, as well as those who had come home but were slowly leaving this world for the next one-by-one.
I’m not always the biggest supporter of war. However, I have respect for those who put their life on the line for what they think will make our country safer. A small parade and ceremony each year in a small town in rural Michigan, although I didn’t know it at the time, taught me that respect.
I think there are times in life when you realize everything is changing. Sometimes it’s for the good, sometimes it’s for the bad. But, either way, there are times when all the signals pointing to change are there.
I made this realization today, as I left my trusted Pontiac Sunfire at a dealership in exchange for a new (to me) Chevy Malibu. The Sunfire was my first car and has been with me through a lot: two years of high school filled with back and forth trips to Port Huron for dance practice, five years at Michigan State, a summer in Indiana, a summer in Kentucky and a 12-hour drive that moved me to Minnesota last year. While it was on its last leg, I can’t deny that the car has done well for me.
Selling the Sunfire and getting a new car, though, was more than just a vehicle change. It’s also a signal of change about where life is heading for me. And I think the direction is good. The new car means that I’ve made progress on my student loans, being responsible for the last year and pushing the Sunfire instead of making a new purchase the minute my cap and gown were off. The new car means I’m settling into my new job well. I have stability and enjoy what I’m doing. The new car means there’s a bright future ahead and that things are settling into place where they should be.
In the next few months, the BF will be moving out here and we’re looking for a new apartment. Change begets change and that looks to be the next piece in the ever-evolving puzzle. Who knows where the path will go next? Whichever way, I like the outlook so far.
(But who knows? That could be the new car fumes talking.)
For most of us, doing things alone is intimidating. Eating at a restaurant, going to the movies, shopping – people are social and flying solo is usually not a fun thing to do.
Which is why people raised their eyebrows when I said I was moving to the city on my own, I’m sure.
I’ve learned to do a lot of things on my own. Sometimes, it’s the only way I ever get out of my apartment. This past weekend, I went and saw a movie for the first time by myself.
It was incredibly refreshing and a little empowering.
I know it sounds silly, but to feel comfortable enough and independent enough to go by yourself to do something normally done in a groupisreally empowering. It’s just a little step, but it means I’m not dependent on others. I’m okay. Maybe even a little brave.
And I like that.
I’ve been at my job for the past 6 months and, I will admit, it is absolutely wonderful to have a steady income. However, with all my student loans and regular monthly bills, it doesn’t feel like I’m done digging my way out of the “poor college kid” persona. I know it’s something that lots of recent college grads have to experience, but now that I’m looking at buying a new car this summer, it’s time for me to start making some (important, even if seemingly small) goals.
Below is my list of ways to alter my budget in order to save more. Do you have some suggestions of things to add? I know finances are something most people have to work hard to be good at, so I’ll take any advice or words of wisdom out there!
Amanda’s Money-Saving Goals (until after she gets a new car!):
- No more movies out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart/Target.
- No more iTunes purchases. If new music is out, listen to it on Spotify.
- No more new clothes. Wear what you have!
- Eat out no more than once a week (excluding work travel).
- Eat at a fast food restaurant no more than once a month (excluding work travel).
- No more than one movie (including popcorn and pop) in the theaters per month.
- After finishing the movies in current queue, cancel Netflix DVDs.
- Get Minnesota driver’s license so I can switch to the carpooling parking pass.