Monday, May 08, 2006


I like to be in charge. Okay, I’m bossy. I like things done my way because I usually think I know the best way, and luckily for me, I’m married to a man who doesn’t mind letting me be in charge. I’m also a list maker, especially when I’m planning for a trip or some big event….or when I’m trying to get a handle on our finances.

This is where the worrying part comes into play. Ever since we moved to Italy in September 2003 we’ve watched the dollar sink like a stone under the current administration. We’ve done our most expensive house renovations and furnished our house while the dollar’s value declined daily. For me, this has been a trying time.

By nature I’m a pretty frugal person. I don’t believe in credit card debt, but having a car payment or house payment doesn’t freak me out. I say these things just so you realize that I’m not unrealistically “tight”, but definitely try to live within our means. For us to retire at such young ages (we were 51 and 57) meant sacrifices. I knew that from the beginning and I was prepared to make those sacrifices, prepared to simplify my life in order to live in Italy with the man I love. What more could I want?

Well, for one thing, I would like a stable dollar that would allow us to live in Italy without the constant worry. From a low of 92 cents to a high of $1.36, the euro now costs us about $1.26, and that’s just too much. When the euro was introduced, the thought was that eventually the dollar and the euro would trade at about one to one. Hah! Whoever said that obviously didn’t know what was ahead.

So, ever since we’ve lived in Italy, ever since I’ve been retired, money has been one of my main concerns….a source of constant worry, and the cause for a lot of lists. Lists of our debt, lists of our income based on various conversion rates, lists of things we want or need to do to the house.

And now, this past winter, I finally thought I had things pretty well settled. Art reached the magical 59 ½ and we could access some of his IRA money! We could finish the projects on the house, and with the euro costing just under $1.20, I thought we were finally out of the woods. I thought I could finally learn to relax a little, and even bought a book to help me.

I read a review of the book The worry Cure: 7 Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You by Robert Leahy, and I though “hey! THIS is just what I NEED!” Now that my fears and worries seemed to be gone for the most part, I thought it would be nice to learn how to relax and let “la dolce vita” be my words to live by.

And now the dollar is back up to $1.26 and I’m thinking no, I CAN’T stop worrying yet! At $1.26 we teeter on the edge. The increase in our monthly income is eaten up by the decline of the dollar and we’re right back where we started. Damn.

And then I see an Oprah show and she talks about a wonderful book that she highly recommended: "Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, so I put that book on my list too. It’s a book about relationships, and because Art and I are together 24/7, I’m thinking that maybe this book will help us to be our best together.

And then in Target I see The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I’ve heard about this book and decide to take a look. The subtitle of the book is “What on earth am I here for?” It’s a little too religion/bible focused, but I think maybe I should read it anyway. Being raised Catholic has made me a little religion-shy, but I do believe in God, just not the Catholic Church’s God. I’m trying to be more open, more spiritual, but years of Catholic schooling really make it difficult. It’s so much harder to UNlearn attitudes!

And THEN I seem to see a pattern developing and I wonder….is THIS the mid-life crisis people talk about? Here I am, asking myself all these questions like what is the purpose of my life and how can I best live my life, and how can I stop worrying and start enjoying, and I guess the answer is YES, maybe I am having a midlife crisis. Holy cow, how cliché is that???

I’ve decided to return “The Purpose Driven Life”. From paging through it, I just don’t think it’s the book for me, but I do plan to read the other two books. Maybe all I really need is for the dollar to rebound and my worries will magically disappear, but probably not. Maybe I need to make another expense list at the $1.26 rate. Maybe I need to drink more wine and read fewer self-help books.


At 5/21/2006 09:41:00 AM , Blogger Diana Baur said...

ohbarb ohbarb ohbarb how I can relate. I am looking at this 1.26, thinking, it might be another year before we can do any of the renovations we had planned for this year. I can't emotionally go through it again. It was 1.36 when we did the exterior work -- on a project that ran 30% over budget. I remember feeling my gall bladder scar pulsing at night, waking up either sweating or crying or both. Ok, some of that may have been hormonal, but I cannot and will not do it to myself again. If we have to eat pasta for a full year because we don't have a third room, so be it. Sorry to vent!! Your blog post just cracked my veneer. Anytime you want some emotional support about the dollar/euro exchange rate, email me, will you?



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