I’m going to get a little taboo here and talk about money because it’s weighing heavy on my mind at the moment what with it being Christmas time, and with our little man due to arrive in two months.
Jerry and I live on a fairly strict budget out of necessity, and I’d like to think I am quite responsible financially. Our first priority with each of our four monthly paychecks is first to put aside 1/4 of our mortgage bill into its own special savings account. We do this so that we can break it up rather than having to come up with that large sum of money at one time every month. After that, right on payday, I am immediately paying all of our bills due that week, putting a little something (anywhere from $10-50) into savings most weeks (but not every week), and then figuring out what we have left for the week. It’s not usually much, and will typically go to our groceries and maybe a little something extra like a date night to get frozen yogurt, or a little something one of us has been eying at the store. And then we wait for the next Thursday to roll around and I do it all over again!
Anyway, my point today is actually not to complain. I will admit that I get envious when I see other people or other bloggers who have huge, new, stunning homes or who can buy whatever they want whenever they want, or have grocery carts overflowing without batting an eye. I do get envious from time to time and I hate that. Jerry and I have to scrimp and save when we want something and we are constantly saying “maybe on our next check.” It’s certainly frustrating, but I am always reminding myself and Jerry on a particularly bad day that it isn’t all that bad. I tell him and myself at least once a month that while we may not have everything we want, we do have everything we need.
Yes, we have a mortgage and that’s a huge monthly bill. And yes, our home needs some renovating and remodeling, but t it’s ours and I love it, particularly when I’m not playing the comparison game. I married the man of my dreams and we went out and bought a house and my goodness, how proud we were (and still are). So I’m thankful… thankful that not only do we have a roof over our heads, but that it’s ours and only ours.
Yes, I have student loan bills that stress me out and overwhelm me. I obsess about them and think about them all the time and how daunting they are. And hell, they’ll haunt me for the next 24 years (I’m on the income-based repayment plan where you pay for 25 years… one year down so far!). And yet I’m thankful, in a strange way. I’m thankful because I have an education and both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. And when I look at my loans and think on some days that it simply wasn’t worth it, I remind myself of what a coworker once told me: “you have an education. You have a degree and that is the one thing no one can EVER take away from you.” So I’m thankful.
Yes, we have car loans and these are our second and third biggest bills of the month even though we do NOT drive fancy cars by any means. Jerry’s got a 2001 Dodge Stratus (which will be paid off in July – hallelujah!) so truly… nothing fancy here. But when I stop and think about it, there are so many people, even in my city alone, who don’t have a car, let alone two cars per family. They have to walk or take the bus everywhere. Jerry and I have the ability to go where we want whenever we want, and even though we can’t usually afford to FILL our tanks all the way, we get where we need to go. After many years of driving cheap cars, I finally got my dream car too: a Jeep. While it isn’t new, I love it, and Caleb will be safe riding around in it. So I’m thankful for our cars. They truly are luxuries, even though they feel like necessities these days.
Speaking of luxuries, Jerry and I don’t have a lot of them, but we do have internet in our home, gym memberships (only $10 each), and recently upgraded to cable. Not everyone can even afford these things, but we manage to make it work. We did cut out a lot of our luxuries after buying our house, but we’re doing just fine. This means we very rarely dine out these days and no longer really shop for fun things, just groceries, but like I said, we’re certainly not missing out on anything we need. I miss buying books, but trust me when I say I have enough to last me two lifetimes… seriously.
So at the end of the day, even when we feel like we are “SO BROKE,” and I want to cry because I can’t buy that thing that I want when I want it, and we have to scrimp to get the things we DO want…. we are so lucky, and I am learning to be so thankful, too. We pay all of our bills in full and on time, and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, it is. Many people can’t do that, and we can. We are lucky enough to have a bit left over too, usually, even though it doesn’t feel like much. And when it comes right down to it, we truly do have all that we need, most importantly… each other and our growing family. As long we have each other to support and love, I can never truly be UN-thankful. I LOVE Zac Brown Band’s song, “Free,” because it always reminds me: “no we don’t have a lot of money. All we need is love.”