We’ve worked really hard in the past year to get rid of our debt as a family. Of course, by “we”, I mostly mean Leith. I did my part by working full-time for most of 2011, but it was his hard work that really put us past the months of stretching ends to make them meet and catapulted us into a lifestyle where I can stay home with our girls every day.
And thank goodness we did, because in the last week, we were dealt two big blows:
- Our income tax shifted from a perpetual return every year to us owing an astronomical amount. Like, $625/month for a year kind of astronomical. Eek!
- Hubz’ office girl misplaced half his time sheets, right before month-end. Right before ALL our bills are scheduled to come out. Yes, we’ll get it on the next paycheque. In the middle of May. After everything is due… Gulp.
Needless to say, those two events have caused some mini-heart attacks. Okay, some MAJOR heart attacks…but the good news is, we are one of the lucky families who will be able to ride this out without too much struggle.
The new monthly, ahem, fee in our life means that our winter holiday in 2013 will have to come from overtime instead of our guaranteed salary. I’m okay with that, and so is Leith. A vacation is a reward for hard work, and he always works long hours in the summer. Most years, those extra hours have gone to debt. This year, they’ll go to fun. That’s worth it :)
The month-end stuff though?? That still terrifies me. I’m staring at my bank account, which is skimming the “it’s okay” line by about $50 extra, as long as I spend absolutely nothing from now until May 11.
That’s a long time. Like, a really long time. It’s the kind of long time that has me grateful that the dance season is over, because it means that the only have-to driving we have each week is to swimming lessons on Thursdays.
Thus, the diet.
Instead of cutting back on food, we are cutting back on money. We are spending nothing but the following for the next 3 weeks:
- Fuel for my car.
- Physiotherapy once a week
- As little food as possible
- One gift ;)
That’s it, that’s all. $265 a week for everything we need, tops. Everything else has to wait. Our food bill has been slashed in half, which is scary when you have to buy tons of produce and whole food for our celiac/gluten-free diets. No cheap junk! But the beauty is that I am not sacrificing anything we need: our bills are paid for, our insurance is paid for, our savings accounts will still get their weekly top-up. Our mortgage is paid, on both our home and our rental property. And on May 11, we will get 1.5 paycheques. And we will be fine.
This was a huuuuge wake-up call to the amount of money we waste every week. Little things, like coffee dates and lunches out, won’t happen. Even planned purchases will have to wait – I was so excited to buy new underwear this weekend for the first time in 18 months!! But I’ll survive…as long as I’m not in a car accident :)
It’s both bizarre and refreshing to be on this side of making ends meet, where things will be tight but it won’t be a monthly cycle of never-enough. This is the first time in our marriage where we’ve been able to sail through a rough patch without lasting panic. It’s a small dip, instead of a roller coaster, and I am SO okay with that.
Now all I need is the strength to say NO to my wallet for the next 3 weeks…and that will be a triumph of its own!! So here’s YOUR challenge:
- Those of you who know me in real life need to keep me accountable to this. You can be a jerk, if necessary. But be a nice jerk. And bribe me with sparkly things, if you’d like…
- Those of you who won’t see me before May 11 can harass me gently via social media, or by giving me your tips and tricks in the comments for this post.
Who knows? Maybe this will be a huge shift in our spending habits. It will be a good exercise for sure – we will be flexing our restraint muscles like never before!