Learning the Lesson (and being real)

For those of you who have been following along at my increasingly depressing blog, you know things have been really tight for my family this month. This sucks even more due to the fact that it's December and thus Christmas time. However, even though it's been a month of having ZERO extras and no money for gifts so far, I think it's turned out to be one of the best Christmases and most instructional months I've ever lived through.

We have HAD TO actually stick to the budget this month for fear of losing our home. Yes it had gotten that bad. It's not that we don't make enough money, it's that we have STILL not gotten a grasp on how to handle money. We don't even have the excuse of youth and inexperience either. Married 18 years and will be 40 years old next year...

So, having to really stick to a budget and even deal with unexpected things like having to buy a new $100 car battery, and still make the house payments in cash, it's really kind of made me realize we CAN stick to a budget afterall. They aren't useless, they aren't meant to be broken, they can be followed and we can know where every dollar goes. It's unreal how much money we were just throwing away by not even caring where it was going. I have expanded the budget going into next year quite a ways, mainly as a look into the future to see what life can be like. I did have to redo a little bit of it when we found out the hospital Christopher went to last October when he had chest pains again (he had a heart attack in 2007), was taking us to court over the bill. We have amazing health insurance so the amount we had to pay was less than $1000 but we had no discipline with money. Both of us were so bad with it, that we never even paid one payment to the hospital. And they weren't the only ones. I have stacks and stacks of bills that we just didn't pay. I was so in that mindset that we were poor and broke and couldn't afford to pay any bills, that I made sure that was the case apparently.

So, I've been pretty up front and real with people so far, I'm just going to lay it all(well ok mostly) on the line and put this out there for a little more self motivation and accountability. It worked with getting my house clean (mostly), so I figure it can't hurt to do so with finances. Now I know finances can be a very personal thing, and it makes me a little uncomfortable posting about all of it, and I don't want people to be uncomfortable reading about it, so I may generalize a lot.

Ok, so hubby gets paid this weekend and we'll pay the final catch-up house payment which gets us completely current (WAHOO!!) and we have some cash advances we have to renew (this really watching every dollar has made me HATE those cash advance fees and they will be going away ASAP), then what's left is for prescriptions, groceries, gas and Christmas presents.

The New Year's paychecks will kind of be our babystep back to normal life. We'll be making the January house payment in full and on time YAY! Other things like car insurance, electric, water, internet/cable, trash pickup etc will be paid on or nearly on time. YAY! (Used to be I would just put off paying bills so I'd have extra spending money. I know the exact day they will turn off each utility. How bad is that!?) The kids will finally get their allowances again. They didn't get them for the whole month of December, which is the worst possible time. They weren't able to get anyone Christmas presents, except R who has part time gig with a kids' catering group. A double van payment is also budgeted since we're also behind in that. Then we'll still have about $300 for more Christmas presents for the kids. I'm not going to tell what we have planned for that money, because the kids might read this secretly hehe. I'm just praying it all works out. So, I'm really looking forward to that pay period. I'm going to continue to stick to my guns with the budget thing. I know if we can make it through this month, then we can make it through having a little less pocket change than we'd like (which is still a WHOLE LOT more than we had this month!)

The second paycheck in January is another one I am really looking forward to. We currently have FOUR cash advances out. I can barely believe it myself. FOUR of them. The fees for all 4 come to $240 a month JUST TO BE ABLE TO BORROW THE MONEY AGAIN... it's a sickening cycle. I am thankful we were able to use them when we really needed them, but it's a SHORT TERM solution (if one at all really). But we've been getting them over and over and over again, just because we didn't want to have less than a couple hundred bucks to just blow. Oh my stomach turns at how wasteful we have been these last two years. Seriously nauseated. So, anyway, the second set of paychecks in January will pay off ALL FOUR of the cash advances. That fact that we make enough money to pay off all four of them and still have money for gas, another double van payment, more prescriptions, twice as much for groceries as I usually budget, allowances, and still have $100 fun money - well it just blew me away. It's the same feeling I got when I realized we could actually make 3 whole house payments plus late fees in one month.

It made me realize that we are finally where we always wanted to be. We prayed for so many years to be able to make a decent amount of money. To be able to give our kids the things they need and also just plain want sometimes. To not have to say "No, we can't afford that." Instead, we'd say something like, "Sure I can get that when your room is clean or you do your chores all week and show me you earned it." Or something like that. I'm not going to just start spoiling them.

So, in February, we'll pay off that hospital bill so we don't have to go to court. Yes, we'll have to pay court costs too, which is another things that makes me ill. If we'd just paid it when we got it, this wouldn't even be happening, much less have to pay more on top of the bill.

A few more things I have planned for the year:

Have $200 for Faelyn's birthday, so she can rent out the movie theater party room and invite all her friends if she wants, or have a YMCA indoor pool party in the winter, whatever.

Have $500 to go shopping with Corina to get her prom dress and shoes and accessories, and then get her hair and nails done, and get pictures. I promised her this year we'd do her senior prom right, and I will hold to that promise.

Then have another $500 for Corina's 18th birthday. I don't know yet what that will entail, if it'll be put on a new car or fix up an existing car (still not sure about the house ta credit and getting her another car yet), or if we'll just get her a laptop for college and a couple hundred bucks in new clothes she could wear to a job. All she has are t shirts and jeans. We'll see.

Then comes graduation. According to the budget I have set out, we'll have around $2000 to go toward her graduation, whether it's as one big gift for her, or if we give her $500 in cash and then take a family vacation to Myrtle Beach to celebrate... I don't know. We've never been to Myrtle beach and I always wanted to take my family. We've already asked her if she'd like to have a big trip to the beach with us for her graduation (plus cash) and she was cool with it, but her fiance put a downer on it. It was lame, it was boring, there's nothing to do, blah blah blah. Maybe as it gets warmer, the idea of being at the beach will appeal more to her. I can hope. ;) I can't really afford to go any other time while the kids are out of school. Hotel prices triple just 2 weeks after we plan to go. It's one of those things you save up for a whole year or two to go one usually. I just have 5 months heh.

After graduation, we have the summer which means birthdays. Each summer birthday will get $200 for it, and the 4th of July which is our favorite holiday will have a big budget too. I want to be able to eat fair food and not have to pack soggy sandwiches LOL.

After all that, I have a big chunk budgeted for back to school. Almost $1000. I want my kids to be able to go to the mall and get at least one or two things they "just HAVE to have!" then we'll do the bargain hunting so they get as many great NEW clothes as possible. A few hand me downs are ok, but these kids have been getting nothing but hand me downs for a long long time. Of course, there's also the notebooks and paper and all that stuff too.

Now during all of this, I'm also budgeting pretty hefty payments toward old medical bills. We have so many, I really don't even have a clue what the total is. Probably around $5000 easily. My MAIN goal in 2010 is to pay off all those debts. Cash Advances first, then ALL the credit cards with the tax refund, then get ALL the medical bills paid ASAP, and get a medical savings account padded so that as soon as a medical bill comes in the mail, I can write the check that day and pay it off.
I want to be able to take the kids to Drs, dentists, eye drs etc, and not worry about it. We have excellent insurance for all of those, but that fear of being broke and not being able to pay a bill, keeps me from using them. So, it's going to be a year of teaching myself how to rethink everything.

I'm excited and really anxious to get started. It's going to make the rest of this month so much easier to bear, knowing we're near the light at the end of the tunnel.


  1. I hope you & your family had a wonderful Christmas.
    I'm sorry it wasn't spent with your whole family but maybe starting new traditions is a good idea.
    My condolences to your brother.
    I'm glad your kids had a good Christmas and it turned out to be a very good one.
    I hope your tail bone heals quickly and will stop being so painful.
    We had a good Christmas.
    Merry Christmas and God Bless


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