This car needs that repair; travel costs for Dad; payment due for this kid’s trip; the other car needs another repair; doctor visit; dentist visit; university application fees; chimney sweep; gutter cleaning; the third car needs a different repair; discount club membership due; gas, water, electric, cable, phone; fourth car needs same repair as first car.
If somebody were to look strictly at the amount of money we earn in a month, they’d be somewhat impressed. If they saw how fast that money disappears, they’d be friggin’ blown away.
We own our cars, so we don’t have car payments. But they are older cars, which means we have frequent repair bills. So what’s better: four car payments when you know how much you will owe every month; or four repair bills that total less than the car payments would on average, but you have no clue when those bills will come due? Plus there’s no guarantee you won’t have repair bills even if you DO get a newer car, and that’s been my justification for doing it this way so far. But this nags at me whenever I hear a new squeak, squeal, grind or crunch.
We live our lives for our kids. Everything we do, we do with them in mind. We bought this house for them, so they would have a stable home with their own rooms and plenty of space.
We’ve made sure that whatever they want to try, they can try — within reason. Music, dance, sports, Boy Scouts, whatever. Funding the 3-stage rocket with solid-fuel boosters, that was a bit much.
We travel as much as we can, and let them go on school or organization trips whenever the opportunity arises. It’s important that they see life outside of this little hole in the universe.
But all this costs money. They say, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.” Well, I’m going to amend that — “Little kids, little expenses; big kids, BIG expenses!”
Don’t get me wrong: if I earned ten times as much I would spend it all on them, plus a dollar more. I’ve begged, borrowed and stolen to make sure the money was there for the important things in life.
It just can get you down sometimes. You get done with a weekend of go-go-go, spend-spend-spend, and next thing you know the gas tank is empty, there’s $4.71 in your checking account, and it’s 11 days until you get paid again.
Then you look back at everything you did and say, “Did I neeeeeeed to buy this? Did I haaaaaaaave to pay for that?” But when you ask it from the other side of the equation, and say instead, “If money was no object, was this an important enough thing to spend the money on?” and the answer comes back, “Yes,” the picture becomes clearer.
Doesn’t help you fill your gas tank, but at least it makes you feel better about coasting down hills in neutral and saying a prayer at every traffic light that turns red.
And I just don’t want to ever have to justify those purchases to myself after the fact. I want to be able to make a decision on the spot, follow through on it, and never have to think about it again.
But life doesn’t work that way, I guess.
Right now we are trying to coordinate a trip for the entire family to attend our son’s performance with the high school Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Once in a lifetime opportunity, right? How can you NOT let him go, and how can you NOT go and see it?
Sorry, gotta go. Need to find my checkbook…