Luck and Circumstance and I Have a Monetary Confession

Mr. Brickie finally started working!

He was laid off again two weeks later. Laid off so fast, in fact, that I was able to go online and file his bi-weekly unemployment certification on the normal day.

He won’t get paid for the two weeks he worked (of course) but it means if he doesn’t work for another two weeks we’ll have something come in to go toward bills in the meantime.

The two paychecks were a boost, for sure, but going into the budget after Disneyland and four months off really highlighted how much damage the vacation and long winter really did.

How Much Damage, Though? (aka Confession time)

Credit card minimums add up to over a thousand dollars. There. I said it. I hope you don’t think me too much a failure, though, because regular bills haven’t increased at all. We did what people are never supposed to do – buy groceries and whatnot on credit cards charging really high interest rates. There were also a couple car repairs in there I could explain as totally necessary but signing up the girls for camp was expensive and not necessary. Sure they did three weeks a piece last year and this summer will only do one week a piece in order to reduce the damage but yeah, my kids are still going to sleepaway camp because it’s more important to me than being debt free.

It didn’t help that unemployment barely covered basic bills. I know it’s not meant to, I’m not complaining, but that is the long and short of how it happened. There was no wiggle room. He tried finding side jobs and I tried finding side jobs but the few we did get barely made a difference. It was a tough winter. It happens. Thank goodness it’s not the 1600’s or we’d all be dead from my poor planning because instead of credit card debt I’d have probably poisoned the winter rations or something else totally awful.

I hear the DR fans in my head saying, “What if you hadn’t had credit cards at all?” My response would have been, “I don’t know but I don’t want to think about it because it would have been so, so much worse.” Yes being normal is not great but being wholly committed to an idea at the expense of your kids and family is also a bit not great. I’m okay going back into debt as long as there is a plan for where the next money is coming from to get us out of the debt. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.

The best thing to come out of this winter, I think, is the understanding that even though we’re deep in the muck right now, it could be so much worse. I don’t regret the things we did or bought. This is really the first time we used our future to pay for our present in a big way and as long as we don’t do it again I’ll write it off as worth it.

I’m Done Beating Myself Down

Yes, I have a bunch of credit card debt. I used a credit card for groceries and gas and all manner of silly things that weren’t bare-bones necessities.

Okay.

I can learn from this and not feel bad about it all at the same time. It’s a new skill I’ve been working on and it’s paying off like gangbusters right now.

Do I still want to be debt-free? Of course I do! But there is no virtue in it. There is no moral superiority. I won’t gain the ability to talk to my cats like they’re people.

It’s just a choice.

Sure, I prefer to live debt-free. As soon as we don’t have this pesky income problem I will be thrilled to get back to working on it again!

Speaking of Mr. Brickie – Job Update

This is the summer Mr. Brickie becomes a journeyman. No longer an apprentice, he will be a full-fledged member of the bricklayer’s union.

What that means in real life terms. One, he can move anywhere or go anywhere for work. If they’re laying a bunch of brick down south in the winter, he can travel down and hop on a job and make what they make at the location he’s working in. Two, he is eligible for other positions within the union.

I don’t know if either of those things will happen. I think the biggest plus of being a journeyman is knowing he did ten weeks of training, worked 4,500 hours, completed eight weeks (and a couple Saturdays) of additional training, attended 53 union meetings, and made an enormous amount of contacts in his industry.

I still remember back when he started this journey and everyone – bricklayers and friends alike – looked at him sideways wondering why this white collar guy thought he was going to build walls. I remember him failing his first test during training and my heart plummeting. When he passed it on the second try my heart soared for him. He has grown as a person so much through this journey. I have, too, but I’m trying not to make it all about me for a minute or two.

This is what I’ve been waiting for. It’s not the end of the road but the road trip from marketing guy to union bricklayer is almost done. There will be a new trip after this one is over but for now this is our home stretch.

During this journey we foreclosed on a home, had an internet fundraiser to move to a new state, the kids switched school systems and had to adjust to a dedicated high ability program, lost friends, made friends, and sometimes I swear lived a whole life in the last five years.

What Now?

I’ve been hopeful-to-the-point-of-being-cocky in the past about how easy it would be to clean up our financial mess pretty much every winter since Mr. Brickie has started being Mr. Brickie and not Burnt Out Angry Marketing Guy – but this time feel different. I’m not hopeful but I’m also not worried. Maybe because I think it’s the final time we will go through this, but I’m not sure. It feels like this is our biggest hurdle to date but at the same time it doesn’t feel stressful.

I will do everything I can but I can only do what I can do. Worrying won’t help.

Mr. Brickie may not working now but when he goes back, I have the new 2018 budget ready. It took almost two full weeks to figure the darn thing out. Due dates, importance, trying to put money toward next month’s bills (which we were able to do with just two of his working paychecks) are all things that had to be accounted for. There was a lot more math than most years.

April has never been a kickass month for work because it’s super wet and he can’t work in the rain. I really feel pretty lucky he’s been back to work at all considering what felt like a never-ending winter.

My Plans

I’m half-heartedly poking around in the library and online for something I want to do that’s just for me. I’ve spent the last five years focused on everyone else and making sure they transition with as little stress as possible. I’ve spent so much time, effort, joy, and tears on my family I’m not even sure what I want anymore. Not in a bad way, I love the life I have and am excited for where our life as a group is going.

Recently it feels like the whole world is full of doors and my only responsibility is picking one to open and walk through.

Taking care of the family is still my first priority, so I won’t be opening any job or business doors. I’m looking at maybe doing something creative, because even though I’ve never really done anything creative before I feel like I might be a creative person.

I am still doing medical stuff. 2017 was the year of anti-depressants for anxiety (and all the side effects that went with them…ugh) and five outpatient leg vein surgeries (awake and crying into a pillow for every one, ugh) all before going to Disneyland and walking 32,000 steps a day.

2018 is going better so far health wise. Last month my doctor joked that I should be taking the same meds my daughter with ADHD – Inattentive Type takes. I took her up on the offer – because why not? – and now, three weeks of ADHD meds later, I’ve never felt less anxious.

Guess that anxiety wasn’t just anxiety after all. I’ll be damned. Now, if I could figure out how to make that anxiety not come back and crash down on me like a ton of bricks when the meds wear off that would be great! But even if I never figure that part out I don’t care. At this point I’ll take all the not-anxiety I can get however I can get it. I also have another surgery scheduled for a different place you don’t even want to know about in three weeks. I hope that works out well because I’m more nervous about it than I care to mention. I will say that the problem had to be pretty extreme for me to be willing to go to a surgeon for the solution. Sorry for the vagueblog but I promise it’s better for you this way.

I try to focus on on how lucky I am that one of the biggest bonuses of the last five years is our insurance. I’m a pretty firm believer everyone deserves good health care. Is health care one or two words? Healthcare? Health Care? Health care? I’m mostly good with my native language but sometimes I’m easily stumped.