I’ve been a tad MIA from my usual blogging habits as of late mainly because I haven’t had any new revelations to discuss- work kind of sucks but I’m working on it and while it’s time consuming I’m trying to keep from poisoning myself with whining about it- positive thoughts only. DD and DH and doing great, summer is ending and school is starting for our household but we aren’t exactly at the stage where that is a life-altering kind of event.
What has struck me, and struck pretty hard, is that DH and I are officially in the red when it comes to finances. I’m still a bit stunned about it, keep going back to the spreadsheets and the bank account and keep expecting the math to be different. But there it is, in black white and red. Our expenses have surpassed our income. It may seem a silly thing to be so surprised by- I’d be foolish to think that our lack of funds is anything less than average now a days. But until last week, I thought we’d be tight but at least ok.
I wish I was referring to the eating-out, movies on the weekends, new toy for Lily kind of expenses too, but sadly no. It’s an unholy combination of tuition increases for Lily’s preschool, grocery bills, the cost of insurance at my job and gas. Good grief, the gas bill has tripled- I’m driving further to work, the prices seem pretty stagnant around the $4 mark, and it hurts.
Solutions aren’t immediate. We’ve developed a cash-based plan for spending that should carry us through without drowning ourselves, and August’s 5-check month should get us to a point where we can go forward without putting bills on the credit card, but other issues are still there. The furry kids all had their yearly vet checks and that went on the credit cards we’d kept at a zero balance until now. We can nickel and dime our bills- get rid of HBO, turn the air conditioner off more often, shop at Aldi for groceries and stuff, and while that sort of forced consumer diet will help out, it isn’t a long term solution. Gone is my ability to put some cash in savings every month- as is my ability to contribute to the 401K, even at the lowest percentage it’s just not there.
There are other discussions that will come later- the main one being Lily’s day care costs. But until we’ve tackled the other financial options, I cannot look at my daughter and say “I know Daddy and I have gone through a lot to choose what we think is the best and most progressive school for you, a school that has proven a fabulous, nurturing, learning environment. But we’re gonna downgrade ya’ cause we’re feeling the pinch, k?” Yes, I realize she’d be fine- we’re super fortunate to have a kid who rolls so well with changes she would most likely have a good time anywhere. But I’m not ready to make that kind of decision yet. Hell, I hope I never have to- it’s a crappy thing to have to do as a parent.
What gets me even more is knowing I am still fricking fortunate as hell, probably right in the middle, upper middle even, of this economic mess. I can keep my house. I can feed my kid. I can drive my car, just not too far. I’m not yet at the point where I need to leave the end of my “first” job and head straight to clocking in at the second without stopping home. These situations aren’t rare, they’re commonplace and it makes me furious. My mom actually thought I was being “melodramatic” when I made a comment about not being able to afford a new pair of shoes. She can’t comprehend a situation where people who work cannot afford homes and simple luxuries- she and my dad made it and made it well on just 1 teachers salary. But it’s simple- people work their asses off and can’t make the payments, and the fact that DH and I have joined those ranks isn’t shocking, isn’t a result of bad planning, poor educations or even poor incomes. We’re smart and we’ve got great jobs and today it isn’t enough.
We will make it work. I know that because we have options- moving, downgrading daycares, all sorts of things. What ‘ll be looking for, though, are ways to make sure this topsy-turvy economic bullshit stops hurting people. I think it’s easiest, when things are tough, to turn inwards and worry only about yourself, and taking care of the house and home is gonna be priority #1. But I’m gonna use this frustration as fuel to get active. I can’t make my monthly contributions to the Obama campaign anymore but I’m damn sure gonna find other ways to make a difference. Any suggestions???