I feel overwhelmed with the prospect of never getting ahead of our expenses. It’s the danger of owning a home at the very top of our price point. We knew that times would be tight at first and have been hoping for that moment when we’ll get a little bit of financial breathing space.
Now that kindergarten has started and we have eliminated the $1,000 monthly daycare expense, I had hoped to be breathing big, deep, breaths. Yet, I look at the next few months of expenses and our goals for the next few years and feel despondent. There is a $1,000 snowblower purchase looming on the horizon and our 1999 Corolla has been great but I sense that we will need another car soon.
Once again, I find myself referencing my first day of law school, when our Dean gave us advice that I have remembered frequently over the years. He told us not to think about the entire forest of things that must be done over the next three years, but to concentrate on the most important tree at that moment and
Chop the wood in front of you.”
In times when I feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin or how things will turn out, I tell myself to go out and chop the wood in front of me.
Let’s start with the good news:
Our Emergency Fund is looking pretty snazzy with a solid $1,000 sitting there.
The bad news:
Well, it’s not exactly bad news. But certainly not frugal. We spent $120 on something I never wanted to buy.
We embarked on three summer vacations. Our first,
three six-hour drive with the kids was so hellish, with Baby Stapler absolutely hating his carseat, that we brought along my mother’s ancient portable DVD player. It worked like a charm for Baby Stapler, but Little Stapler complained that he didn’t have one too. For our third vacation, we caved and bought this two-screen, portable DVD player for the car.
It worked like a charm, with the kids completely placated the entire time. Baby Stapler was even laughing out loud at some of the scenes, and making our hearts melt with his gorgeous little giggles and squeals. Are we rotting their brains and focusing their attention on cartoons when the scenery outside is beautiful? Maybe. But we’re also keeping our sanity.
I was such a better parent before I had kids 😉
August Net Worth Update:
Cash: – $3601.
Credit Cards: -$872. It’s moving in a good direction, but of course not as low as
the month three weeks we paid only cash.
Loans:– $791. I have no idea why this number went up for the second time since graduating (the first time it went up was when we took out our mortgage). It might be an error in mint.com, combined with Mr. Stapler’s big federal loan being in forbearance. But the alternative to forbearance while the servicer switches his plan is to pay double our monthly payments, and we don’t have that kind of cash right now.
Investments: – $100.
Net Worth: – $2,037.
- Survive: SUCCESS! The home stretch may be the hardest part of a marathon, and we are feeling the strain. It’s easy to think that we can get back to doing it all, but that’s a mindset that will set us up for failure. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to take some time to take care of myself, not just my family, these days. Baby Stapler may be sleeping through the night, but that doesn’t mean I can go to bed at 11pm. We may be looking at one less daycare payment in September, but that doesn’t mean we can go out and get a new car. I’m getting pretty tired of the strain over the past year and a half, so at the end of each day I have been asking myself, “What was the good part of this day?” in order to help me focus on the positive.
- Stick to the cash envelope system until Little Stapler gets to kindergarten. FAIL.
- August Goal: Put $500 into an Emergency Fund. SUCCESS!
- Survive: I have to keep looking at the bright side of the day and find joy in our frugal ways. I have started my annual Christmas ornament gifts, so that will help. It brings me so much more happiness to craft gifts for my nieces and nephews than it does to buy them.
- Draft a Business Plan: Still on the list!
- Improve our heating efficiency: Winter is coming. In a bigger, single family, house we don’t know what to expect for heating costs. The state will subsidize $3,500 of the cost to replace our 75% efficient boiler with a 95% efficient model, and we qualify for free air sealing in our attic as well as a free cover for the attic stairs. Those projects are slated for September, before it gets really cold. We will still have to pay $5,300 for the project, with a 0% interest loan from the state. I shudder at the prospect of taking on more debt, but at 0%, for an expense that could otherwise cost a lot more if it takes us by surprise, we’re willing to add it to the balance sheet.
Did you achieve your financial goals this month? Did you have any particular challenges?
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