I read a post recently that made me think about how we're doing on our budget. It hasn't been a huge concern to me lately, we've cut back on eating out, trimming unnecessary expenses, doing what we can to ensure our wiggle room. While it thrills me to have savings, and know we're decreasing our debt, I'm a tiny bit nervous. I'm nervous because I don't want to get complacent in working towards our goals. We're hitting our third paycut soon (word is October or sooner), and after a talk today with another woman whose husband works in the same field as mine, the fourth cut is already being discussed. The third is going to drop us a total of 25% in take home pay. That may not sound like much, but when half our take home goes to our mortagage, you can see how quickly the rest can disappear. R's worried about job security, but that hasn't hit me yet. What has hit me is knowing that we're living below our bottom line, but no matter how much we save, the bottom can always fall out.
This is not just a one field issue-many sectors are getting hammered. R's hoping that his college classes for the fall don't get canceled, even though they're paid for. Lack of funding means tighter budgets, which means everyone from staff to counselors are getting laid off. I'm seeing this as I apply for jobs in schools, its ridiculous. There's always a trickle effect, its just a matter of time before others feel the pinch too.
I'm holding onto the belief that we'll pull through. We've slashed our discretionary budget, going out only when we get paid to (a recent trip to Marie Callendar's was such a treat, yet in the back of my mind I thought how ridiculous it was to spend $20 for us to eat out). I can't see paying for more, not when we're working too hard to get where we're going.
Our kids are learning about the value of thriftiness. We're taking advantage of the free water park, library, and anything else that's free or very low cost. We do our weekly trips to stores, including Target and the boys enjoy their treat of 59 cent yogurt cups while I bargain hunt. We're doing what we can to stay cool, while not losing our minds. We're doing playdates and playgroups, meetups at the park and at the waterpark. Buying random things is such a thing of the past, yet I think wiggle room is important. We did buy an aquarium pass, which to us is a valid expense given its a full year of an educational resource, and its tax deductible. The boys recently earned $1 sea animals (peaguins and an octupus) for working on their goals, being a good helper at home and potty training. Needs get put first, and wants, well, wants are on the back burner. I've learned that I can do without certain things (new clothes), while others take precendence (I will need a new pair of tennis shoes as my one pair are falling apart).
My dad tells me that we'll have some stories to tell our kids years from now, yet I don't think I'll have to wait until then. The pictures of us smiling at the park, at the free water park, hanging out with friends, learning how to do better with less and enjoy it more, it'll be there. They'll see how even in times of economic trouble, there was plenty of love and laughter surrounding us.