Monday, October 17, 2011

Money Monday, the Series (I think)

I don't like to focus on money.  I don't think it's right to focus on money.  But why is it always on my mind and a top worry?  I hate that I've given my mental and physical health to this issue over the last 2 decades of my life.  
Services and things we need, even if we're doing all the work ourselves, cost money in ever-increasing amounts, and the bills come regularly, and they're never less than expected.

I've shared here previously that our paycheck was reduced $1300 per month last September.  This September it went down a bit more... After a couple weeks of endless and aggravating calculations, I decided to take the cheapest and worst medical insurance plan to help out.  The new plan means less out of our paychecks, but means we're paying everything at 100% for awhile to meet a much larger deductible, and 30% of everything after that.  Barring any unforeseen emergencies or serious medical situations, we should come out better, or at least no worse, over the year, but for now, it's a bit brutal.

I had a plan of action and was carrying it out.  We had a bit of credit card debt, which is unusual for us, but money was coming in to cover most of it.  But then we had 2 weddings, an adjustment in our mortgage payment, money going out and coming in from the in-laws' remodel that confused things, and it seems that things around here keep breaking to the point of needing replacement or expensive repair.  
These include, but are not limited to, our van (which decided not to start and make a screeching, metal-scraping noise instead on the eve of Princess Bossy's wedding), our riding lawn mowers (something we repair constantly only to have something else give up), our weed trimmer, and a sewing machine.  

Every other vehicle we own, including Prince Steadfast's and Princess Sassy's, needs some sort of lesser repair or maintenance.  I was taught that it's highly irresponsible and ill-advised to let such things fall behind, so feel like we're risking bigger problems, but it's all expensive.  We do some on our own, but in-depth auto mechanics is not one of our family skills.  

Through all of this, the credit card debt grew instead of shrinking.  We've never had any substantial credit card debt before.  It scares me.

The things we can do to make our lives more organized, better maintained, or provide a way to decrease some of the other expenses... Building the garage, finishing the house interior, putting in bookshelves, fixing the greenhouse, adding a fireplace so that we can cut our heating bill and stay warm in the threatened bad winter ahead... all require money, too.  DIY can be easier on the checkbook, but it's far from free.  We've always heard "It takes money to make money," and it seems it can also "...take money to save money."

A former neighbor used to quote her father, saying "It doesn't cost anything to keep things clean."  We believed this to be true for a long time.  But now I'm seeing that part of keeping the homestead clean includes cutting the grass, hauling the garbage, painting when needed, and getting dead cars going again, and that all requires spending. 

Anyway, my intent here was not to whine, but to paint a picture of what's spinning around in my mind.  In future posts, I hope to discuss strategies and options for meeting the challenge.  I've watched more than a couple financial gurus share their sage advice on afternoon talk shows.  But the things they suggest cutting out from the family's budget, like meals out, movie rentals, gym memberships, beauty salon visits, car payments, etc., etc., are things we rarely or never spend for.  
Words like "vacation," "cable TV," or "select sports" are not in our family vocabulary.  Unfortunately, as well-meaning as we've been to add it, neither is the terms "savings." And we all know that gas is no longer a negligible expense... Even for short jaunts, like running the kids to their sports practices and school events.  We can't be the only family in 'survival mode,' financially, and still struggling.  So I'm sharing... and thinking of doing a series.  We'll see how it goes...

Mostly, I need to remember that I have faith, hope, and trust in a God who loves us and will meet our needs, even if it's not how we expect or in ways that haven't occurred to us.  He has blessed us greatly all this time, so I have no reason to doubt Him now.  I have to be patient and see what doors He opens.

Psalm 121:1-2  I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

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