It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, my two boys have just gone off on a road trip together and I'm at home by myself crying like a big girls' blouse. I could have gone with them, heaven knows they encouraged me enough - but I just can't bring myself to have fun today. I couldn't justify wasting petrol for no reason; when it's gone it's gone and there's no money for more. I felt like a right party pooper but in the end I figured they would have more fun without me sitting stressing out in the passenger seat. Poor things, they've got so much going on in their lives too at the moment; I try and stay upbeat and try not to let my worries rub off on them but sometimes you just can't hide it, sometimes you just have to spell it out.
Today started off alright - in fact it was a good day, until I checked the bank balance! And realised not only am I in overdraft (and getting charged $19 for every bill that bounces) but it's also going to be at least 15 days until any money goes in again. 15 days is a long time - half a month - and who knows how many more bills are going to bounce and how many more $19 in failed payments I'm going to get charged. It was kind of a little hard to think positive after that. It was rather nice in hospital not being able to worry about things for a while! But now it's back to reality and the fact that despite applying for more jobs than you can shake a stick at, nobody, not even the local wine bar will give me a break. I thought I would have been the perfect choice being tee-total but dare I say it - OK, the kids already did - I'm too old. I'm not really too sure what to do any more to be honest except wish and hope. And hope to goodness something happens soon!
Forgive me for being so gloomy; I've actually been feeling really good for ages! I must just be having an off day. Yesterday was brilliant, I received my longed-for copy of the Complete Tightwad Gazette in the mail, thanks to the generosity of lovely SS'er buttercup after I posted about it in the Forum! I can't wait to get stuck into it - it's people like the author, Amy Dacyzyn who give you faith that if you keep plugging away and doing everything you can, there will eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. And there are also Simple Savings members like Loz, who I spent a most enjoyable hour talking to yesterday in WA. It was Loz's saving stories which got me jumping back on the Trade Me wagon selling all my unwanted stuff but her success also caught the eye of That's Life! magazine who asked me to write a story on her. I had such a ball chatting to her, this woman is amazing! By selling her unwanted goods and making the most of what she had in her own back yard (in this case yukka plants), Loz put herself through four years of university, paid for her wedding and a trip to Exmouth. I thought that was pretty impressive as it was - but she didn't stop there! She also made enough money for her and hubby to travel to Singapore and Bali no less than FIVE times - with trip number six coming up in November! All of this she achieved surviving on her husband's single income, with a mortgage and commuting the two-hour trip to uni by bus every day. It just goes to show, anything is possible if you have the drive, the focus and the determination.
Now graduated from uni, Loz is a relief teacher who still uses Gumtree to boost her irregular income but plans to take a break from travelling next year to focus on paying off their home loan. All going to plan, she and her husband will be debt free in four years. She says it's tough but it's do-able. I have absolutely no doubt she will achieve her goal and when she does, she will be debt free at the ripe old age of 36. Talk about inspiring! As we speak, a friend of mine has just listed a whole pile of yukkas free to take away on our local Facebook Buy and Sell page. I couldn't resist telling her about Loz, she was absolutely gobsmacked! That's the thing though isn't it; some of us see opportunities, some don't. Loz's husband literally looked out of the window of their new house one day, saw the yukka plants in the yard and thinking he might be onto something, decided to Google them. The rest as they say is history!
Another benefit I got from talking to Loz was the realisation that I needed to set myself more goals. Smaller, achievable ones, rather than simply praying every morning 'Please don't let me lose my house'. Every time Loz faced a new challenge she would set herself one goal at a time. Even if it was ticking off something as simple as raising $300 in kennel fees for her dogs so she didn't have to worry about them when she went to Bali, she would tackle one goal at a time and simply put the money away where it couldn't be touched, then onto the next and onto the next. I thought about the goals I would like to achieve and they're really not hard. I'm writing them here so I'll remember them:
1. Pay off every annoying outstanding bill until I'm left with just the static ones each month. I have a good half dozen of these and would really like your thoughts as to how to deal with them. For example, if I could manage to muster up a spare $50 each week, am I best to put it all onto one bill? Or put $10 each onto five bills? I really don't know! Part of me thinks I should pay them off one at a time but another part thinks that even if it would be much slower, it would be better to chip away at more bills and no doubt keep the people I owe money to happier too. All suggestions gratefully received.
2. Oh how I would love to achieve this goal and so would the boys! It would be so nice to have a week where we could use the food money for food instead of bills. For example, this week alone we have had to use the food money to pay $25 for Liam's haircut, $100 for him to take to school camp, $40 for his school ball ticket and $25 for his school leaver's jacket. That really doesn't leave much money for food! Being the self-sufficient, easy to please duo that we are, Ali and me spent the grand total of $15 on five days' worth of food (including dogs and cats) while Liam was away but most of the time it's much harder!
I think realistically those goals are enough for now. After all, you can't do too much when you have nothing to work with! But we will reach them and when we do, it will be time to raise the bar a good bit higher and work towards being debt free. It's frustrating having to walk before you can run! Even so, I can't help feeling that the universe surely has something out there for me soon. Today is my 150th alcohol free day and quite out of the blue I was approached this morning to ask if I would be interested in creating and co-ordinating a motivation and support programme for people who struggle with heavy drinking or alcohol addiction. Funnily enough I have been wanting to help people in this way for a couple of years but it was still a huge surprise to be given such an opportunity. It might not be a job - but in some ways it's even better.
So I shall stop whinging and snivelling and wait for my boys to come home and greet them with a smile. I know we'll all be alright and one day we'll look back at this time and laugh. I remember when my ex-hubby was young and his parents were struggling financially, his mother took to growing and selling raspberries to supplement their income. How he and his two younger brothers hated picking them! But it got them through a rough patch, just like Loz's yukkas got her through and decades later they still laugh about those raspberries. I'm sure in years to come my boys will tease me mercilessly about some of the quirky things I've done to save money too but for now they had better brace themselves. Thanks to buttercup and my copy of the Tightwad Gazette, things are about to get a whole lot more extreme!