Wednesday, June 6

The Hundred-Dollar Week

I don't know why talking openly about money seems to be more scary, more personal, more impertinent than some other things. But it does, to me. To me, one's money, or lack of, is something you hide. Something you don't talk about. And you never, never ask for help, or let on that you're struggling. At least, that's the way I was raised. Over the past 10 years I have gradually let some of those 'rules' slip, as I have realised, and keep on realising, that you just can't do life on your own two feet. So we've had bank loans, we've had personal loans with family members, we've received financial help from our church, and I've had friends, as recently as last week, slip me a twenty-dollar bill to help pay for something. It's been humbling.
But I thought that maybe we're not the only ones struggling. I mean, I know, genuinely know, how well off we are compared to many many families in our own country, let alone globally - I think we're still in the top 10% in fact! But I don't compare myself, my lifestyle or my struggles to those people - maybe I should! Instead I compare our situation to our friends and acquaintances, our fellow church-goers, the other school parents.. and we come up short. And I let myself get angry, bitter, jealous, and I regret the decisions we have made that have led us to this point in our life. Getting married young. Not finishing degrees. Not earning two incomes for a few years. Not travelling overseas. Having babies young. So I feel angry at everyone for being 'rich', and I get angry at myself for choosing the 'poor' road.
But I know of at least TWO other whole families in my church that are in a similar position to us, and maybe there's some more friends, who I see regularly but don't realise how close we sit on the money-bus. Maybe this will encourage them, that they are not alone. Maybe they were thinking, as I do, that they were the poorest people they know. Hopefully this will make you feel less alone.
And because I've been trained to fear appearing-to-be-asking-for-money, I have to say loud and clear, I'm not. I'm just trying to record, for my own sake, and for those other invisible people's sake, our week, and look at creative ways of making things work.
So, for whatever reason, we've ended up with $100 to last a week. This often happens. Ok, this always happens. And what it inevitably results in is either Josh or I transferring another 50 or 100 from savings to make  it through the week. We hate it, but we do it. But our savings account is looking mighty small right now, in light of the fact that I need TEN FILLINGS in the next month or so. Which will literally halve our savings. And so we are feeling more threatened than usual. It's all very well to have spare money, and view it as such(we haven't viewed it as a house deposit in about 6 months - you can blame the cars for that), but when that's all you have left in the world, it makes you feel a wee bit vulnerable. So anyway, the $100. We decided that this time, we could do it. We would make it work. We would just buy the bare necessities and some petrol, and make it work.
So far, $50 of petrol, and $21 at the supermarket(night-time nappies*, cat food* and rolled oats), plus $6.50 for two bottles of milk at the fruit and vege shop takes us up to.... $77.50. We were totally going to make it! Josh gets paid fortnightly, on a Tuesday, and all I needed to get through the week till next Tuesday was a few more bits of veg, which would come to about $10/$15. Only 6 days to go - not that I'm counting!
I had to go to the dentist this morning, but was pretty sure it would be free this time, as my tooth that was terribly sore was a 3week old filling from the same dentist. Sure enough, she just reassured me that the nerve  was settling down, and to wait it out. She also asked if I was sleeping well and looking after myself. How I laughed! Anyway, no charge. Till the first big lot of fillings next week. Whoo!
But Josh is sick again. That's right, after a gap of only a few weeks, maybe a month, the terrible cough, the sleepless nights, the struggle to breathe. If it is bronchitis again, it will make it FOUR times in a year. That's with THREE gaps of a few weeks of good health in between each time. It makes me so MAD!!!! So, I resigned myself to the fact that we would have to transfer money from savings for him to go to the doctor. To me, that's ok. That's important.
The thing that screws one's resolve, I'm pretty sure, is sleeplessness. Exhaustion makes it difficult to deal with the normal things in life, let alone new challenges and crises. And my darling little boy Lewis has been awake and 'fractious', as they say, four nights in a row. The night before last he was awake(and me with him) from 12.30 till about 5.30. I coped really well, considering. Last night he slept till 3, but I could not sleep, for the life of me. I just wasn't sleepy. And then he was awake, with me, til 5-ish.
Today I'm not coping so well. I have a sore, hot throat, and a sniffy nose. I'm so tired that when I was driving home from the dentist this morning I almost fell asleep. I came home and slept all day, and woke up, and felt very sorry for myself. And I thought, maybe we should just get take-aways tonight. I mean, there's some meat in the freezer, but I wasn't able to make it to the fruit & vege shop, and I can't see myself doing it in the next couple of hours... and I can't face making the kids dinner. Maybe, seeing as we have to transfer money for Josh to go to the doctor anyway, maybe we should transfer a little extra? It wouldn't hurt, would it?
I went and checked our accounts, and lo and behold, a miracle. I thought we only had about $23 left, but we had $38!!! How? Where did that extra $15 come from? And then I saw that my personal account(from when I was selling Tupperware), had a whopping $41 in it! That's right, $41!!!! What this means, is that instead of $23, we actually have(brain hamsters stumbling on their wheels, bear with me), SEVENTY NINE DOLLARS! Which means(creak, creak), Josh can go to the doctor, and I can go get fruit and veg without transferring anything. And maybe, maybe tonight or maybe on the weekend, we could get a little bit of fast food???
All of this means that it really wasn't a $100 dollar week. Far from it. It was actually a $156 week. So really, we were always going to be ok. I wonder if we could have made it work though?

* - a note on the groceries - I am still annoyed that I have to buy night-time nappies. I mean, if Lewis was still in nappies, like Maddy was at this age, it would be cloth nappies. Yay environment. Yay cheap. But this night-time business? No way would a cloth nappy hold the quantity of liquid, and no way would that be good for his delicious bottomly skin. Sigh. So yes, on special at $11.99 for a packet, they're a pain in the proverbial. Also, cat food. If only I could make my own. But I really really can't. And I don't want her to starve, or worse, eat my children in the night. Bloody cats. End of note.

1 comment:

whatthesquirrel said...

phew! i feel exhausted after reading that!
good thing i'm not those people!