Hubby and I struggle with money. Regular readers know this, as I've written on several occasions about our need to scrimp and how we try to save. This time of year, especially, has always been just thatmuchmore tight for us, as the business Hubby is in (basically a subcontracting home renovation) finds less willing buyers 'round about now. People waiting to get their tax returns back before committing to pricy home repair.
Things will pick up. That's the usual way of things, anyway. It's just... right now... it's tight.
Sweetie had school winter vacation this week. Hubby just happened to have this week off too.
Well, isn't that special?
Luckily, a new job does start on Monday for him. But it's not the biggest of projects, by a long shot. Yay. Glad, at any rate, that he has any job at all to start. And yet, it still has us on the edge of our seats wondering where his portion of the income (that is, the greater portion - by far) is going to come from in the very near future just following this puny reconstruct.
Is it so wrong to like a job primarily because it shows you how much better your life is than others in the world?
I call people, at my evening job, trying to help them come up with viable plans for paying off their medical bill responsibilities. There are financial aid applications. There are payment plan options. There are legitimate ways to make paying down their debt workable for them. And I pride myself with the ability to, often times, "talk down" a customer from sheer frustration and downright anger. Anger at the system. Anger at their situation. People living week to week, on fixed low incomes, having to make tough decisions on which bills are most important to contribute money towards this month. 'Cuz you know there's no way any of them are getting paid off in full! Not this month. Hopefully next month will be better.
Little do these people know how very, very much I can relate to their stories. How very much I emphasize with their situations. How I know, plain and simple, the frustration and stress of what they're going through.
"Oh, but what would you know, anyway?! You work for a big hospital and are probably paid a nice pretty penny for the work you do, with not a worry in sight." This, from one of the gentlemen I spoke to recently.
If you only knew how wrong you were, sir. If you only knew. This is only 1 of 4 jobs I work. And it's still not enough. Not by a long shot.
If you only knew.
The beginning of the month seems to be the toughest. But then again, we work all month, trying not to spend too much, so that - come the first of the month - we have enough money to pay off the big bills. Rent. insurances. Credit card bills. Everything is due all at once.
But I'm also eligible, potentially, for a small monthly bonus at one of my jobs. If I succeed at achieving it, as I have the last 2 months, then I receive it in my very 1st paycheck of the month. Yay! Extra money!
And then, we sent in for a rebate on my new phone - which I had to get around Christmas time, because my cell had died beyond all hope. That just arrived to us this week too. Yay! However, it was in the form of a gift card (a "debit/credit card" usable at anywhere that accepts credit cards). Not a check for actual cash to be deposited into our account. Fine. Whatever. As long as we use this card for items we actually need - not random coffee trips, not a dinner out, not "extra" treat-like groceries we wouldn't normally buy - it would be fine. It's all the same.
So. Two instances of "bonus" money this week. And still. It's hardly a bonus at all. That is, they aren't a bonus at all. Just a bit more money than we thought we'd have, making this week not as completely and utterly dire as it was once expected to be.
Yay! Now we can actually go grocery shopping this week! We don't have to make do - as much - with the food we have in-house, like we've been "making do" this past month or so. Yay!
Except..... remember, Hubby hasn't worked all that much in the last month or so, and this job to start pays horribly.
And so... we are back to the dire situation we started with. Yes, we will shop. But, no, it will not be a "full out" trip. It will be a "get the basics we have to have to make other in-house items last longer" trip. A sort of trip we have become all too familiar with of late.
As happy and somewhat relieving it is to get the occasional unexpected extra money in any given week (Yay! now we can afford my Rx without charging it! Yay! now we can afford a bit more at the store!), I've been wondering lately just what we'd do if we, somehow or another, did all of a sudden come into a large amount of money.
I'm talking thousands of dollars here. How and where would we apply that money if, joys of all joys, we were instantly blessed with such a decision?
I mean... I'm thinking it would actually end up being a really stressful decision in its own right.
We have big credit card debt - should we wipe that out?
We owe my parents big time for a loan they gave us - should the money all go to them?
Hubby and I both have old, old cars. At least a decade old each. Would we use big (pretend) money to put the money down on at least 1 new car?
I still have college loan debt. Maybe a chunk of money should go to get rid of that monthly payment?
And, of course, I have medical bills up the wazoo. Perhaps some of this hypothetical windfall should pay those bills off for us.
Lastly, we haven't been on a family vacation in about 4 years. Not any kind of vacation at all. And I want - above anything else in this world, sometimes - to go to Disneyworld with Sweetie and Hubby. I've been before, as a teenager. Hubby and Sweetie have never been. I want to go so badly. Would we/should we use the money to take this trip?
But then what? So we, say, clear up a credit card. Great! That's really only taking a few hundred dollars off our monthly expenses.
Or say we clear up the debt with my parents. That would be awesome!!!! However, they've been kind enough to not bother us about paying that back lately anyway. So it's not a current monthly expense we'd see go away.... it's just a large, looming debt we'd be free and clear from, which is a lot - of course - but doesn't truly help us still, month to month, right now.
Or we take that vacation. Maybe we could go to France instead! Hubby and I went years ago, and Sweetie says she really wants to go too. Hubby especially wants to take her, as he lived in France during college for a few months. He wants to show Sweetie all his old haunts. To take a vacation would be wonderful! But... then what? There may be little or no money left from our (still imaginary) windfall to apply to existing debt. So life, as we know it now, would continue on... day to day living, paying what we can where and when we can on our bills. Yay.
But at least we'd be more relaxed, and with no added cost!
I don't mean to complain. Honestly, I don't. And I know the stress that Hubby feels he's under, as the main breadwinner in our little family. I know he feels badly when he's not working. At the same time, he knows as well as I do that it's not his doing at all. He goes where the company tells him to go, when they tell him to go. He can't make jobs appear. I know this as well as he does. Like I said, I'm so happy he has a job to start next week. Some money is better than none! I love him and appreciate so much the hard work he does to make our family as safe and secure as possible.
And we are, all things considered, doing alright and holding our own. We're not necessarily behind on any payments. It's just, we don't necessarily see any improvement in our existing debt situation either. We're just... staying steady.
BUT - we're staying steady on a total household income that is considerably less than it used to be, when he and I both had regular full time jobs with benefits. Yes, we had to sell our house. Yes, we now rent for considerably less than what our monthly mortgage was. But through the sale, we paid off our 2nd mortgage. We have done what we can to lower interest rates on our credit cards, and we do not use these cards anymore, unless absolutely necessary.
We are making improvements. We may not easily see them. But they are there. To live as we do - even on a pay check to pay check basis - without collectors pounding down our door, and with wonderful friends and family who understand our situation and offer their own support in various ways... we are blessed.
And, like I said, what would I do with a big chunk of money anyway?! It probably wouldn't even be worth the hassle and stress of figuring that all out. Bah!
(Not that, in the end, I wouldn't want to give it a good ol' try.)