We start with some great news today.
One of Mr. Brickie’s SEM side-clients – who was almost 90 days behind in payments – sent in a partial payment this week, so that gave us a little breathing room. 11% of the current amount due isn’t anything great, but I’ll take whatever I can get with thankfulness right about now. Plus, the act of the client making a payment at all shows that the client is still active and makes the odds of receiving the other 89% a real possibility come January/February.
In the meantime we’re going to start posting more things on Criaigslist. It’s time to sell everything non-essential. Not just for the extra money – although that will be great – but having less stuff around us will make us feel less stressed. Okay, maybe it won’t make anyone else in my family feel less stressed, but it will make me feel better.
My new motto is, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris
In other Mr. Brickie news we are in a tumultuous time with the weather. He was not able to work on Monday but was able to work today even though he did not expect to. He is also probably going to work Friday and Saturday this week. The rumors of another job during the winter are still floating around but have not been confirmed. If he can just keep working, he will get this first bump in apprentice level (from 40% to 50% apprentice) in the beginning of January (sorry if I’ve mentioned it a hundred times, it’s a mantra I repeat to myself often) when that happens he will get his first raise. That raise will be about $4/hr. If he worked full time and didn’t have unpaid rain days that would be an extra $8300 a year.
That is serious cheddar.
My original calculations will have us solvent with all bills and enough for gas and tolls and groceries at the 60% level. So it will be at least six months from January when we hit that level and get another raise of about the same level. (The reason it’s not exact is that the percentage is based of the journeyman rate and that changes year-to-year.)
While my husband only gets paid for the time he works, every hour goes into the health insurance bank, two pension funds, and an annuity fund. We might be poor, but it’s a straight shot of warmth to the heart when you hear the optometrist’s office manager exclaiming to a coworker, “This is the best insurance I have ever seen.” I get why people love their white collar jobs and paid holidays, but that just isn’t where my joy lies. I love skilled labor and think being able to make something is breathtaking. It’s so real and tangible.
I respect academia and do not begrudge people their choice to go to a college or university. I do, however, think people have really lost their perspective on skilled trades, considering “blue collar” work somehow “less than” white collar. I did too. I was very skeptical about unions and bricklayers and the whole nine yards when Mr. Brickie started his training, but at this point I’m so completely sold. I would be just as proud of my daughters if they learned a trade instead of going to college. Sure, both is fine, too. It’s a world where everything is possible. But if they were forced to choose, the only advice I would have is, “Pick the one you think you’ll love in five years. One that grows with you. One that makes you feel special in your heart.”
I can see it from both sides. I see how happy my husband is. I feel the difference in how he snuggles me at night and the confidence that comes home with him from work and turns into a side hug and quick kiss in the middle of the supermarket.
He was never this happy when his main job was search engine marketing. Never. As a side-job he loves it, but as his main source of income he absolutely detested the whole thing. Mostly because people make no sense a lot. Or so I think.
I have to say, the changes in his personality from going blue collar make me certain I could be poor and happy with him forever. Luckily, I don’t have to make that choice. He is doing great at work and will probably be with this company until he is a journeyman and who knows, possibly forever. There are several coworkers of his who have been there their entire career and one son who is second generation with the company. The reputation of the company he is with is that they’re always working on something, so he will be able to semi-rely on regular hours.
Plus my other mantra: The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 40% increase in jobs from 2010-2020. The industry is going to grow and, pretty soon, it’s going to grow fast.
He talked to a coworker of his during a break who said he usually saves about $3k to get through winter. He didn’t always need the money but that was his slush fund. The nods from the others confirmed that was pretty much the rule among the guys.
So we even have our minimum savings goal for next winter.
It will be nice to see snow and be excited he’ll be able to spend a surprise day at home with the family.
In addition to minimum savings achievements and surprise snow days, I have lots of family fantasies of how things will be once we are in a financially stable position. Gymnastics lessons and art lessons and vacations and retirement accounts and museum trips are what I dream of on the good nights. Things we were able to do and put a hefty amount away in savings back when I was working full-time(ish) in marketing. He’s going to make more than I did. We already know how to save because we did it last time we made more money than we were used to.
We may be poor, but we are poised for success.
It’s taken almost eleven years of learning about each other, our priorities, our bad money habits…but we did the work and are happier now than we have ever been. We have a long-term plan, we have purpose, and we have the discipline to go the distance.
As long as we can make it through the waiting part. Which, I have to admit, is much more difficult than I could have ever imagined.
Update on poor Christmas
I only have two people left to buy for. The girls are taken care of for Christmas as well as for their January birthdays. I just wanted to be done with it. Now I am.
This involved credit card debt (yes, I’m a big ol’ hypocrite) and I seriously don’t even care. I got better deals on what I bought than I’m seeing listed for Black Friday pricing and each kid got five-ish things. Nothing is over the top, and most presents were purchased for under ten dollars on Amazon.com … I did get one the Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow for $15 and change, but I already have one in my closet from a PR campaign the girls have never seen. Everyone gets some Nerf for Christmas. They’re going to be thrilled with everything, I’m sure, and while I will have to pay some interest on the purchases, it’s something I talked to Mr. Brickie about and we decided it would be better to just be done with the whole thing and pay a little for the convenience.
We paid out most of our tax return last year to pay off debt, so, again, we know we’re not going to say, “We’ll take care of it with our tax return” and decide to go to Maui instead and hang the credit debt. It’s nice being a person I know I can rely on to do the responsible thing.
It might just be for today, but right now, I’m feeling hopeful for the future of my family.