Category: Agnostic Grace

Just Another Sappy Date Night Story

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In case you haven’t picked it up from the title up there, this is kind of a sappy story. It is also a perfect representation of how random things happen in our lives. Not just in bad ways that lead to disappointment. This is the positive side of how things work out for us in ways I can never predict.

We Had A Date Night!

Here is how date nights happen in the Brickie household.

We find out a friend is having a birthday party. We both want to go. After sacrificing a small animal to a pagan god (KIDDING) we make phone calls and pray someone will watch the kids. Thanks to the not-really-sacrificed animal my in-laws are free and able to watch the girls for a solid five hours on the night in question! We are going to a birthday party!

We find out Thursday the party has been cancelled for reasons beyond the birthday girl’s control. Boo, hiss.

We have a sitter and five hours on a Saturday Night… DATE NIGHT!

Now we panic because instead of the cost of a bottle of tasty vodka we have to figure out if we have it in the budget for both of us to eat food. We have a TGIFriday’s coupon but we really want to kick it up a notch. We decide we just aren’t in a place where we can kick it up a notch and are resigned to going to a chain and really we aren’t resigned we are happy because we haven’t been out together without the kids since New Year’s Eve.

Saturday morning we are happy and getting excited about being grownups out together being in love. We get two emails and manage to sell two pretty large things on Craigslist Saturday afternoon and take it as a sign we are supposed to go someplace a notch above a regular chain restaurant we had been perfectly happy with and almost convinced ourselves we really wanted.

I let Mr. Brickie pick the restaurant because I normally pick and I was feeling all nice so I was like, “Where you want to go, boo?” and he was all, “Mmmmm beer.” So we went to Rock Bottom Brewery. We shared a beer flight (shown in that pic above) and shared one big beer and he had shrimp and lobster enchiladas and I had fish and chips and we laughed and talked and had the best time just reconnecting and being two people remembering how awesome the other one is. The whole time not worrying because those two things we sold on Craigslist that paid for dinner were things we thought would never sell, so we celebrated that stuff being out of our house as much as we were celebrating each other.

Really, it was bliss.

Moments like that, the ones that happen so randomly, are the ones that keep us fueled for the day after day worry and disappointment. The nights where we smile and laugh and remember what an amazing team we are? Those are the ones I remember when I’m frustrated and tired and don’t want to do one more article/survey/story. He keeps me going with our inside jokes and overdone footsie-playing under the table ending in both of us laughing so hard our sides hurt.

He picked up the kids on time and they were happy and the 4yo ended up falling asleep on the couch while fighting not to leave because she wanted to play, “Just one more game…” He came home and told me everything that happened and how happy they were and what a great time they had. Icing on the date night cake, right?

My mom used to say, “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.”

Mr. Brickie is still worth the “richer and poorer” I promised eleven years ago. I have no idea how that’s possible, but there it is.

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Getting Fired by Clients & Investing With $10

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I think I may have become a grownup yesterday.

Either that or I’ve ascended to a higher spiritual plain. Okay, probably not. I sat with my legs crossed with my hands on my knees for almost five minutes last night trying to float because I was really getting into the spiritual ascension theory. This is why belief is so powerful, because the only thing I keep thinking is, “I shouldn’t have tried to test it. I should have just decided I am a higher spiritual order of soul now and RUN WITH THAT.”

One of my friends and I have a theory where we think if we just pretended to have all the answers and told people WHAT’S WHAT and derided people who questioned our awesome answers we would be a lot more popular. At least online. I don’t think being that way works in a “real life friendship” sense, but with my anxiety and occasional freak out that will cause me to miss your get together in favor of driving by and having a panic attack I’m not a great friend sometimes. If you invite me somewhere and I’m late? Check your driveway or street, I’m probably sitting in my car willing myself to move and go be a good guest.

Mostly I think I come across the same way online. A few deep, random thoughts and a whole lot of doing the best I can and hoping someone else can learn from my successes and mistakes. I am not going to pretend I know more than I do. I can’t lead anyone out of poverty because that’s where I am. I’m happy if we can walk through it side-by-side though and be equals. It’s all I can do.

Back to being a totally mature human being….

Is This What Makes Someone Grown Up?

Yesterday was kind of a rough day when you do a highlight reel. I lost two clients and got a critique on one of my stories I use as a litmus test to see if someone is going to critique story or if they are going to critique the style of the story. I know, I’m thinking about writing fiction again. It happened because this guy and I had a three hour phone conversation and it made me realize I love telling stories. (I know you know I love storytelling, but…I’ll get back to this down further in the post. Someone told me I can’t keep going off topic in the middle of other sections of posts.)

On the bright side, one of the clients had convinced me to try and write something I do not write and so I gave it a try, she called it “unusable” (I’ve never had that happen. Milestone!) and I am thrilled I never, ever have to do that again in my whole life because now I know the answer to, “Do you write Press Releases?” is “No.”

The other client is a friend and she was subcontracting something to me and her client knew (because my friend is a good egg and has integrity) and did not like my writing style. I am not one of those awesome chameleon writers who have ten different writing styles to choose from. I have, maybe, three. Fun, professional, and conversational. If the client didn’t like it, I can’t imagine how I could do it a different way. But the client wasn’t unhappy with my friend and my friend wasn’t unhappy with me and, really, a situation where two people are not right for each other with no hard feelings is the best possible poor outcome. If my friend needs something in the future she knows I’m here for her and everyone is okay. Well, except her because now she has to do it herself which was a weight I felt happy knowing I was taking off her shoulders. 

I do wish I had been able to help her with that burden.

Common Ground

The press release incident and the style incident (they might both be style incidents, come to think of it, but the press release client did not give me any other feedback) have a lot of things in common. I was not the right person for the job based on how I write and the requirements of the client.

Those situations both happening in the same day was a little overwhelming. Strange, too. Both situations I would probably have been devastated about in the past and used as a springboard to feeling not-good-enough for days. Yesterday I was able to step back and realize that there are things that cannot be changed and doing my best was all I could do.

I didn’t feel heartache, panic, or loss. I felt relief at one situation and sad for the extra time my friend would have to spend on work in the other.

In fact, I have been up two hours and sharing this story with you was a natural priority over checking all my bank accounts and freaking out. There is no need to freak out and there is nothing I can do right now. I checked all my online writing places once this morning and will try again after I hit publish. (Or maybe now, since I’m thinking of it.) Yep, still dry. I’ll keep checking, just in case.

Both the press release client and my friend paid for work they received. So I’m not out anything and I never count on writing income before it’s hatched. I find it works a lot better to be thankful for the extra work when it comes instead of focusing on being disappointed every time it goes.

Let’s talk about something completely different…

Investing Stuff I Found Online

I found this Facebook page from The Penny Hoarder which led me to this blog post on How to Start Investing With Only$100 and I’m going to talk about gambling in, like, two minutes. Stick around.

I used to work for an Investment Bank in downtown Chicago a long, long time ago. I was there for the merger of that awful Santa Cruz organic beverage line with some bigger company, I got a green Game Boy when they first came out in colors when some other company went public. (I was a secretary. We got stuff sometimes. I got a Tiffany & Co. bedside water pitcher and glass once for the office Christmas gift. Red letter day, that was. I owned something from Tiffany’s. Sure it was a water pitcher but I convinced myself it was the coolest water pitcher in the world.)

The other thing that happened was the Google IPO. They didn’t run it but everyone at the office talked about it. It was my Big Miss™ in life. That dutch auction I couldn’t figure out how to participate in. Oh if only I could go back, right?

But one of the links on that blog I linked to is this place that does not charge you to buy or sell stocks online. I find that weird and haven’t read into it a lot more but plan to. I don’t like gambling but the stock market – even though it is gambling – is the only way to really increase wealth. I guess I would mitigate my risk with a mutual fund, but then I saw they have THIS THING:

Participate in an IPO with as little as a hundred dollars. 

Holy. Crap.

So I’ll be keeping an eye on that and trying not to freak out when I get an email letting me know I can participate in one. Also they have stock accounts with no minimum balance (they said you can start with $10!) I have to do some more research on loyal3 because that all sounds too good to be true. Okay, the IPO doesn’t because if you pool money and then loyal3 buys the shares it makes sense. Fee-free stock purchases? That’s the one I don’t understand.

Have you heard of LOYAL3? I need to do more research. Every time I consider buying anything, ever, I’m going to be thinking, “Could I put this $10 into a stock account instead?” That could really make me a paranoid shopper. Yikes!

Storytelling

(This is the continuation of the storytelling stuff  in case you were scrolling down to find it.) While I love telling the story of my life right now because this is kind of the ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure™ book I’m in there is another part of me that wants to tell other stories. Stories that are not my own but are my own.

I’m making no sense.

Maybe as a therapeutic way to regain control over some forces outside my front door that are completely beyond my control like weather and work schedules, writing my own stories would give me that sense of peace. Fiction is a way to be honest in the context of someone else’s false life created by the author. (Yes, I’m honest on this blog. I don’t sugar coat, but I also don’t post about my kids’ poop color, so it’s a give and take with level of honesty. I think we’re good at the money-but-no-poop level, yeah?)

But with fake characters they could feel whatever and I could see how the character worked through those issues. Perhaps it would help me find other ways of dealing with in-person issues that arise like they do for all humans.

I just want hundreds (possibly thousands) of dollars to take classes at LitReactor. I’ve wanted to for a couple years now. I’m sure they’re worth the class prices. Ah well, another thought to put on the shelf for another time.

Not to be completely self-centered, but do you think my complete lack of overreaction to losing clients means I’m an adult now? Or do you think that it’s just hidden, waiting for the wrong moment to jump up and make me feel horribly inadequate as a writer and a human being? 

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Chat It Up Saturday (The “Is Craigslist Money Taxable Income?” Edition)

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We ended last month and started this month worried.

Very worried.

Now, thanks to a partial client payment that we thought would never come (He’s made four payments over the last year. We keep thinking about cutting bait but haven’t yet.), another blogging gig, and selling a glass desk on Craigslist things are looking noticeably more rosy and it’s only the 8th!

I had a couple comments about people who under-report income. I’m wondering if the money we got from selling the desk is income. We bought it for more than it was just sold for. If a business did the same thing they would be able to report a loss and have that not count toward their taxes. But since I’m an individual, I’m not sure what my responsibility is with that.

Let’s Google It!

The H&R Block Blog talks about Garage Sales, “When determining if a sale must be reported as income it isn’t the dollar amount that matters or how it was sold, but whether the item was sold for more than it was originally purchased. “ So it looks like Capital Gains works the same way for individuals and businesses in this case. Cool. It also has some other situations. It was a good read.

The NOLO.com website (a free law resource website) says the same thing. They even refer to Craigslist as the online version of a garage sale. I can totally see it.

In fact, the only place that says it is taxable is Answers.com and with no source or backup other than a big Yes. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking the tax website and the law website answers are far more reliable. Has anyone ever gotten a reliable answer from Answers.com? I don’t know. Yahoo! Answers used to be crap but I’ve found amazing and detailed answers with sources cited more times than not these days and actually don’t cringe when I see it in the list of websites Google returns as potential places to visit for an answer to whatever question I have that day.

Also, I think it’s completely obvious but just in case someone thinks I should mention it…If selling things for a profit on Craigslist or eBay is your business, the answer is different. I was just looking into this because I wasn’t sure if I should be claiming it as income.

We already claim blogging income and the marketing work income and the other writing income, not just because one of my biggest financial fears is an audit, but also because it’s better for us financially. The more we make this year the higher our EIC (earned income credit) will be. You can’t get tax credits without owing taxes, my darlings. As for the government benefits I help pay for with my taxes, the taxes out of Mr. Brickie’s paycheck when he has one, and the taxes out of his unemployment…SNAP reduction isn’t dollar-for-dollar reduction. So even though I claim more income, depending on the amount, it might make no difference in my benefits, so, personally, it’s better for me to claim every penny. It’s just better for me – and my sanity – to be up front and let the calculations handle themselves.

As much as I would love to boost the income numbers for this year, claiming income (like the Craigslist sales) when you aren’t supposed to can be as problematic on your taxes as not claiming income you don’t have. I think. Don’t take my word for it because I’m not a tax expert. So as much as I would like to claim that as income, I don’t.

Bottom line: We have kicked one more large item out of the house! *happy Snoopy dance* Every time something leaves I feel physically lighter. All this stuff was weighing me down. In my life I have moved more than the average person (but less than a military family) and I can tell you that even if this is my “forever home” I still feel more comfortable if I can move everything I own in 24 hours or less. You just never know, and I like to be prepared.  (Sounds paranoid when you put it in black and white like that. Yeesh.)

How Fast Things Change

We went from having $100+ dollars to make it through the month (which had me really worried because next week looks like it could be a work week and right now it’s a 2hr. round trip commute and a few dollars in tolls every day) but with other sources coming in we are looking at closer to $480 in the plus column for the month. I moved $100 into savings immediately and we are trying to live out of the “cash” envelope we have set up that we keep in a hidey hole like cartoon trolls. It’s cash from selling things on Craigslist. So we might be able to put even more in the envelope at the end of this month. It depends on how much he works and how much he needs to spend on gas and tolls and how much of that cash we need for food.

Now I’m super glad I do that monthly budget post because in retrospect everything makes more sense! 

A lot of what we are going through is less about numbers and more about perspective. Sure, it’s about numbers because that’s where the feelings come from, but worrying about about the next month’s or even next year’s money is something a little (teeny weeny) bit more in our control.

I don’t know. I worry a lot. I don’t want to be a worrier, but it’s so difficult.

Also, here’s a teaser for a post that will happen next month. I think I’m going to re-think how Easter baskets happen this year to try and get more bang for my buck, too. One nice thing and a little basket of candy is what I’m thinking. I’m sorry, I’m totally just thinking out loud here. I saw this cool box of 24 pastels for $10 (including shipping!) and that plus some art paper would be so much more appreciated, I think. Not for all the kids, just for the one who wants to be an artist.

Really, I need to have things for these kids to do that do not involve an electronic screen. They already read, play with ponies and matchbox cars and use their imaginations and play outside. They’re not attached 24/7, but every one-more-thing that’s not electronic gives another option.

Maybe I can look up some YouTube art tutorial videos. Since, as we all know, YouTube is the sum total of all human knowledge. At least, I think it is. YouTube has helped us replace windows, choose paint colors, make cute hairstyles, cut my own hair, and about a hundred other things. It’s magic, I tell you, MAGIC!

Basically, if I have ten dollars to spend I’d rather spend it on art supplies than even more candy. But that’s just me being a Scrooge, I guess.

One of the Secret Benefits to Planning with Money

Okay, I’m putting this at the end because I don’t want everyone to know I just figured this out recently. I’ve done a monthly budget for years on the last day-ish of the previous month. This means a holiday was as much a financial surprise to us as it was to people who don’t budget at all.

Now that I’m trying to forecast finances into the future (With the power of my mind. Seriously, there has to be a better way.) I’m thinking about Easter NOW (over a month in advance – craziness) which means I can set aside enough for gift baskets for the other kids that we usually see at Family Easter. As long as we keep our cash close to our hidey hole and don’t spend crazy cash (and trust me, we have become experts in not spending money) it will be no problem to sock that extra money into the savings account and be able to orchestrate an Easter based on value and not cost and time and  panic.

With a crazy, irregular, fluctuating income you just can’t do that whole, “I’ll put X amount of dollars a week into a savings account automatically!” thing that someone else’s bank might let them do. I would love to do that. I enjoy automating finances like you wouldn’t believe. Both because I’m lazy and because I remember when I worked for Allstate and we would look up accounts and the bills were paid by a service if the person was a celebrity most of the time and I thought, “Wow. You pay someone to pay your bills for you. That is a wealthy person.”

I will never hire someone to pay my bills for me but having them paid automatically says something about the level of financial security you feel that you CAN do that. Like, how cool would it be to have your bills auto-pay to your credit card every month and you just log in and pay the credit card bill once a month. That would be amazing.

It would be more amazing to do that with your debit card, but I get a little shaky and anxious even thinking of it because even though I know there will come a day when I have enough in my checking account I can pay bills automatically (I would love to use You Need A Budget for this. Someday, friends, someday I will use YNAB and it will be SO good.) that time is not now and the thought of anything coming out of my checking account I’m not prepared for gives me the chills.

No Offense

I know that some of my readers are very religious and I completely respect that Easter is a very symbolic and important holiday. As an agnostic, I come at it from more of an Easter Bunny “doin’ it for the children” perspective, but I do not think my way is better than a religious way.

My thoughts about Easter are completely financial for my family but I completely respect a family dynamic that incorporates a “There is more to Easter than chocolate” belief system. If you wrote a post on your blog or just want to share what Easter means to you, feel free to share your thoughts or your link it in the comments.

I’d like to think of this as an interfaith blog. All faiths and even no faith are welcome. We all get out hope and inspiration in different ways from different places.

Have a wonderful day! Tomorrow I am hoping it’s warm enough and not-wet enough to take the kids to the park. Here’s hoping!

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I Am Not Going to Starve or Be Homeless

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I feel like I can’t really say this enough.

There are people who are homeless, and who are going through other terrible, horrible things right now.

I am in a position right now where we do not have extra money for anything and because of winter we do not know if we will be able to pay next month’s bills. We budget tightly and go to food banks for food.  We are also on a path toward a much higher level of financial security.

On a scale of 1 – 10 where 10 is homeless, I’m like a 4, tops.

As much as it would be an inconvenience, I have friends I could live with if I really needed to. I have a family member I could go live with temporarily. No matter how abrasive I might be there are a lot of people who don’t want to see us homeless. I’m very, very lucky. But I’m not even planning on those outcomes because I’ve been working out the most likely probabilities in my head for months.

Here are the most common possible outcomes in the order of probability.

  1. The most probable outcome is we remain where we are. As Mr. Brickie moves up the bricklayer ranks on his way to being a journeyman his pay will increase. Along with that journeyman title and living wage he’ll get in a couple years there is also insurance (we benefit from this already), two pensions, and other nifty benefits. We are sacrificing now so we can win later.
  2. The second most probable outcome is that we will move. Whether or not we get foreclosed on is mainly a matter of timing. How fast court proceedings and things go vs. when he gets raises as he moves up the apprentice scale. It’s something I just can’t know. If we do move, we already know where we are moving to and have checked out both houses to rent and apartments in the area. Researching my Plan B extensively makes me more comfortable with the uncertainty.
  3. The most unlikely outcome is moving in with friends or relatives. This only happens if things happen faster than we are prepared for or some other unforeseen event comes up. This is the rarest of the possibilities.

I have been preparing and worrying about this since before Mr. Brickie became a bricklayer. then I worried while he went through training. I kept worrying as he looked for a company to take him on as their apprentice. I am now worrying our way through his first winter where weather keeps him from being able to work.

As the sun streams through my window and I feel a hint of spring in the air, I feel hopeful. With Tom Skilling (weatherman supreme) saying the current prediction is an El Niño in six months I feel even more hopeful because that will mean next winter is mild and a mild winter will mean more work and faster raises.

If it doesn’t happen that way, I’ll readjust the plan. That’s something that everyone does regardless of where they are on the income ladder, right? I mean, the point of this blog is not to show how sad and pathetic I am. Far from it! I want to show that I’m just a person living my life with my family like everyone else and I’m not anything special. So that others can know that they are not alone or if they are doing great maybe they won’t assume everyone else is just because they are.

I am just another person who used credit cards to fund my children’s Christmas. I then used my tax return to pay them off. I know I’m not the only person in America who did that. I know I’m not the only person in America who wants this past Christmas to be the last time they use credit cards to buy things for their children!

Honestly, I cannot overstate how lucky we are. Even without food security or knowing for sure where we will be living a year from now, none of my children have medical conditions that require doctor care beyond annual physicals. None of my children have behavioral issues outside the norm for their ages. Both of my children are in enrichment classes in elementary school. I have a husband who is dedicated, affectionate, and loving. I have all the OTHER things besides money that people want. I am beyond thankful for all those things every day of my life. The everything else I have is what allows me to write this blog from a place of strength and love instead of sounding like every day is another panic attack.

If that makes me less inspirational, so be it. I am here to be honest, not try and blow smoke up everyone’s butt and try and show myself to be some kind of impoverished saint. No way. I am just a person who is currently poor and thinks they won’t be forever who is kind of just trying to take everyone who wants to come on the journey.

My readers are the best people. I am lucky to know most of you. But you know … you KNOW I wouldn’t trade places with any of you. No matter how wonderful the life you might have right now, I love my family and I am a junkie for a great comeback story. I like to think that’s what I’m in the middle of right now. A comeback story.

I hope to have you with me once this part of the journey is passed and I refer to things like The Taco Incident as examples of how fear of not having enough shows up in the strangest places instead of being a story of something that just happened. When I have my kids in activities and we are taking vacations and you will all know how hard I worked to get those things.

Who knows, maybe it will help someone else put their own life into perspective and cut themselves some slack and remember how hard they worked to get the things they have. (Wow, that was a really clunky sentence!) Maybe it’s you who thinks you could always be doing more but have already done enough and are running yourself into the ground. Maybe it’s someone you know.

I will always feel the perspective this part of my life has given me is the true gift. I am a much, much less judgmental person now than I was a few years ago. I have more understanding in my heart for the situations of other people. I don’t look at stories online anymore with an immediate eye to pick them apart or be an armchair quarterback for a life I have not lived.

I’m not going to start handing out cash willy-nilly without some facts, though. I mean, I’m not going to go full stupid or anything, but I can give any human the respect of reading or listening to their story with an open mind, regardless of what I choose to do with that information after reading or listening.

How are you doing? Are you feeling overworked today? Or do you feel you still have some pep in your step to get things done?

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Giving Instead of Giving Up for Lent

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I grew up Catholic.

In a very nice Church with very nice people that I saw on Sundays and holidays.

I received my First Communion at 10 (I was the oldest one and oh, so gangly and nervous) and never went through to Catechism because I found out you couldn’t pick Dusty as your “bonus name” because it had to be the name of a saint. This led to the revelation that my first name (Jennifer) isn’t the name of a saint, either, and at that point I was just done because I thought the whole naming thing made no sense.

We still went to Church.

I spent years wearing this little cross necklace around my neck and wanting SO badly to feel what I assumed other people felt. It was small and gold with a smaller white enamel cross on top with a painting of ivy and roses. It was so pretty and I would hold on to it. I felt it identified me and that eventually I would feel what I was suppoesd to feel and understand what I was supposed to understand.

It never happened.

One day, the little white enamel piece fell off. I realized it had only been held on there with a tiny dot of glue. I cried a lot that day because I felt like the only hope I had of being connected to some big, divine thing was gone. Really, it feels a lot like the acting class scene from “A Chorus Line” (if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth a listen. It’s posted below because I’m  musical today and love this song). If you are very religious you might not get the similarity, if that’s the case it’s still a pretty good song to enjoy. It has a cuss word in it though, so don’t blast it in front of the kids if you think they’ll go around singing that part!

I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to explain any part of a religious experience with Broadway Musicals but hey, I also put more faith into a dollar store necklace than I did into an entire religious organization.

Since we’ve moved to the town we are in I have convinced Mr. Brickie to take the family to church four times. Once was for some of our daughters (the ones we had at the time) to get baptized. The second time was for a pregnancy blessing at the local Catholic church where they had a guest pastor that talked about abortion the whole time. TO A ROOM FULL OF PREGNANT WOMEN. So, obviously, we didn’t go back because I was beyond offended that my husband didn’t let me cause the huge scene I wanted to cause because I was there for a blessing and I got…well….bait and switched.

Same thing happened at the other church which was more of an evangelical church. I was like THESE PEOPLE FEEL THE WIND RUSH (you’ll get that if you heard the song up there) and we went twice and considered membership because I was like, “I could make friends here. These people are spirit of the bible people.” So we went to the first membership meeting.

When they used the term HIVE MIND I spit coffee and then had to fake a coughing fit. I thought, “I had to have heard that wrong because seriously.” Then I realized after the fourth, fifth time that it was a term he meant to use with NO irony and NO humor and my heart broke. Again.

Now Mr. Brickie refuses to try other churches. He thought – logically – that being married meant I wouldn’t have to feel heartbreak anymore. I wouldn’t feel rejected anymore. Me too, Mr. Brickie, me too.

I did go to one with a really wonderful woman I went to college with. I enjoyed it a lot. Then the flag troupe came out and I was just, like, I don’t understand anything anymore. One thing I can thank one of the churches for (I think it was the one that had a horse on stage that one time – I’m not lying, there really was a church horse) was the difference between jealousy and envy. That was a life changing idea. Especially for me being poor.

Jealousy is when you want what someone else has. Envy is when you want what someone else has and if you can’t have it you want them to not have it either. It was a great lesson for me, personally.

This Is Where I Stop Being Mopey

For the readers who were like, “I do not want to read all that moping.” I wanted to give them a headline to let them know I’m all done. That was all leading up to why I’m agnostic and celebrate Lent. I like Lent. I like remembering sacrifice and giving something up. Ever since I found 40 Bags In 40 Days last year I feel giving of myself and giving my things to others who are even less fortunate than I is a wonderful way to spend 40 days. (There is even a closed Facebook group. I really can’t recommend it enough.)

Also, I think I have Mr. Brickie convinced to buy fish for Fridays for the next 40 days. Not because of anything but our whole family loves fish and it seems like a fine time to enjoy some love from the sea, right?

Even if we don’t have organized religion we can still give, right? I want to feel like a valuable member of society and be able to help others no matter how we are doing financially right this second. I want to declutter and at the end of 40 days know that if we have to move we will need a couple less boxes to make it happen. I want to feel just a little more freedom in my life.  

What do you give up for Lent? (I predict a whole bunch of people who weren’t raised with Lent to do the, “I’m giving up giving up things.” because that joke is new to them. I forgive you in advance.) Do you give without reminders? I know I like to have a certain time of year where I’m reminded to be awesome. You might not need that kind of prompting. If that’s the case, what are some ways you give?

I’m always looking for new takes on this very, very old theme.

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Hope Stretched Thin is Still Hope

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We really thought Mr. Brickie was going to get some work in this past week. Now the weather forecast looks horrible for yet another week. I’m balancing bill-paying with writing work and unemployment and trying to gauge the weather because if he does work that’s going to cost gas money and money for the toll-road and food for him to take for lunch because he needs to eat more when he’s doing physical labor outdoors for 8 hours.

Things We Sold This Week

  • Baby Swing
  • Baby Walker
  • Over 200 books, records, DVDs, and CDs
  • A mini-fridge
  • Two office desks (we actually gave these away because they were huge, clunky, ugly, and we couldn’t get them sold. I just wanted them out of the house at this point)

Of course, most of the money went to buying our new (to us) kitchen table. It’s perfect and the table and five chairs are in great condition and we got it for $80. While we really didn’t have the extra money, I feel the time I’ll be able to spend (and Mr. Brickie will be able to spend) with the kids at the table will be worth it.

The first night we had dinner together and the kids talked more about school and what happened during the day than they have in weeks, so I’m really hopeful that Board Game Night (on Sunday evening) goes as well!

But back to selling everything we own…

Selling all our stuff is twofold. One, it’s less to move if it comes to that. Two, it gives us a cash buffer in case we run out of money. I guess it is us building our emergency fund so we don’t have to use the credit cards ever again. I’m not comfortable cutting up the credit cards because I need to sleep at night and that’s how I’m getting through.

The voices in my head (the ones we all have, nothing special) chastise me for complaining because there are so many stories worse than mine. “How dare you share these things?” the voices say. Because I have enough flour and yeast in the house I can make a loaf of bread if we run out of the bread in the cabinet (which happened ten minutes ago so guess who’s making bread today). The kids will eat. Work will begin again. Even if it does not begin as quickly as I would like that is better than having no job at all, which is a situation we were in at this time last year, right when Mr. Brickie started his training program and before he found “his company” he would be an apprentice for until he becomes a journeyman. So sometimes I feel like since there is hope on the horizon I don’t deserve to tell my stories because there are others with more deserving stories than mine.

Then I remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe someday this will be the backstory of how my financial empire started. Maybe I can be the less-religious do it because you can not because the bible tells you to financial person on the radio.

Maybe not being able to pay my mortgage payment for months and repeatedly going to court and working through credit card debt, student loan debt, and all the bills while keeping the lights on will give me the background to give others sound financial advice. Hilarious, right? It’s okay, I think so too. Pretty much daily because I can’t quite shake the notion that if I keep learning through this I might be able to help others with what I’ve learned.

It’s part of what gives me hope to keep going and not just stop caring and trying every day.

When we had completely run out of unemployment and had to pull my youngest out of her preschool because we could not afford the gas to get her there anymore? That was painful. My youngest thrives on social situations with other children. Taking that away was horrible and she was so sad. She still talks about “her school” and remembers it clearly. I let her tell me the stories because it makes her happy, but it also reinforces the voices in my head that tell me what an awful parent I am because I cannot provide basic services to my child even if I have qualified to receive them free of charge. Free preschool with lunch and I just couldn’t do it. I remind myself that soon she will be the right age for Kindergarten. Well, sort of soon. Due to her birthday she can’t go this year even though she will be 5. She has to wait until next September to begin. Another blow to my mom-ego. I read to her at home and we play math games and I talk to her a lot so she is learning things every day, but it’s not as fun for her as preschool would be.

Some Days Are Easier Than Others

Today is kind of a low day. I have a friend who needs financial help and I want to give it to him but I just got enough payments in to cover the car payment and I’m afraid if I give a really low amount like $5 it will be offensive. When it’s anonymous like with the Jenn post, I know she won’t know so it’s okay to only give a little because my name isn’t attached to it. I don’t want someone to think it would have been better to give nothing at all. Of course writing that makes me think how stupid a thought that is. As long as nothing really bad comes up in the next week I can be down $10 and it’s not going to affect what the children eat. There is frozen beef and more beans and frozen chicken and so much rice. We even have Aldi-brand Bisquick (shi-shi, right??) So I think it’s the right thing to do because I know I would appreciate $5 over nothing and I’m going to do unto others. Again, you don’t have to be religious to realize a good idea. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sure, some people will be jerks, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. I have enough hope to give.

I have enough faith, even if it’s kind of an agnostic kind of “love thy neighbor because you have a heart to love” style of faith to feel we will be okay.

Wishing It Away

I know so many parents who believe you should just be in the moment and not wish anything away. I was totally fine wishing diapers away, I don’t miss those moments. This part, though, where we are poor but together? I worry I’m wishing this away for more financial security down the road. Like, I’ll be more engaged when I don’t have to answer questions about extra-curricular activities you want to be in with a sad, “No. Not yet honey.” It feels like I’m wishing this part of my life away so we can get to the part where I can take my daughters to the mall to go shopping. Okay, that will probably never happen because crowds, mall, overpriced, crap, mall, yikes, but I want the option!

I also want to know I spent as much time as I could with my children when I had the chance. We do game night once a week but while it is still winter I wonder if we couldn’t do more.

The wondering always turns into the should-ing and when I feel we should do more then there is never enough to make the should go away. There is always one more word I could write, one more ebay listing I could submit, one more item I could list on Craigslist. It’s enough to drive you crazy.

Right now I’m going to focus on getting a kitchen table from a Goodwill store or other Thrift store. That way I can do homework with my kids more easily. Plus, I can sell the school desks I got for them on Craigslist. They’re big, bulky, and really are pretty ineffective at doing anything for the girls except accumulate junk.

Becoming more minimalist in how we live is giving me great joy. Not just because we could move quickly if we had to, but because being surrounded by stuff has always made me nervous.

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How to Identify Your Priority Police

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In this lovely time I’ve been spending in the land of the poor (sometimes I think of it as a vacation because then I’m having fun) I have learned a few things. Sometimes, those things are universal.

Today is one of those days. WooHoo!

One of the most surprising is that everyone thinks they know what my priorities should be. 

Sell your iPhones, cancel your Internet, get a job outside the house, move someplace with a lower unemployment rate, sell your computer. There is no end to advice I get for leaving the land of the poor and most of these are delivered with such a tone!

If you get SNAP you get the refrain, “Don’t buy junk food, don’t buy soda, don’t buy anything that’s not fresh but you better not buy organic because that’s too good for the likes of you.”

They assume you have SNAP money raining from the sky to buy liquor and smokes and junk food with enough left over to feed your family!

I wish as much as those people that my SNAP card could buy me champagne and lobster every night for dinner. But beyond everyone getting tired of having the same thing night after night for dinner – no matter what it is – you could probably afford to buy lobster once depending on your family size. (a single mom with one kid isn’t gettin much more than  hundred a month, if that) and you can’t use it on liquor. Those signs in the windows of gas stations and liquor stores advertising SNAP/EBT mean the chips, the candy, but more importantly the $5 milk and the $4 white bread about to go bad in a minute or the one lone canned good on the shelf. If you take a good look in your local grocery store there is food. Most of it is from 1980 but it’s there and if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time they want you to know you can buy some Cheetos or a dusty old can of Spaghettios (no meatballs, of course)

Back to the Priority Police!

These people in your life come out of nowhere.

Most of the time these people, whoever they are in your life, sound like they’re trying to be helpful. It’s easier for a poor person because our priority police come with a “tone” that is usually reserved for how you would hear the super-rich in your head. “Dear *little rich people sniff* you must know *hmmmm noise* if you just worked more hours *self-righteous nod* you would make more money.”

As if they had come in during the last ten minutes of CSI and revealed the killer single-handed. They honestly think they have all your shiz figured out in the five seconds they took to assess your whole life.

The first secret is to always remember: I AM ALLOWED TO PICK MY PRIORITIES.
The second secret is just as important: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO PICK YOUR PRIORITIES TOO.

There is always someone who thinks they can take a five-minute mental stroll of your life and come up with the perfect solution.

For me, it’s, “You can both work. Then you won’t be poor.”

If I had a second car or was able to get a second job I could get to by train and that job paid more than daycare for my three children plus a clothing allowance and train fare and of course a new wardrobe because you can’t go to a job outside your house wearing Old Navy $6 t-shirts and old yoga pants from 2005 and then and only then would I get to the part where I tell you it is important to me to raise my children myself as many hours of the day as possible.

When you are poor all the suggestions sound the same, but I bet if you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a dad, a fisherman, or an underwater basket weaver there is someone trying to tell you how you should re-prioritize your life to magically solve all your problems.

Take a few moments and see if you can think of anyone who does this to you. That person who over-simplifies your life and tells you how easy things would be if you did just that one thing they came prepared to share.

In case you’re having trouble coming up with one I have one more way to determine if you are dealing with the Priority Police. When they give you their advice like fairy dust from above, it will always take ten times longer to explain why it won’t work than it did for them to give the advice. If you try to explain because you’re being polite or some other crazy thing, they will act like you are making excuses or looking for reasons not to do what they have decided will save you.

Finally, and this is the worst and most insidious kind of Priority Police…it might be the voices in your own head. The one that tells you that you should have gotten that diploma, finished that degree, majored in something different, had a different number of children, had different partners in life, made better friends, tried harder when you were young.

You can see all those missed opportunities that may or may not have existed at the time clear as crystal. No one can “easy solve” your problems like you can if you take a trip to the past.

But don’t start from your past. Start from today. You can’t fix 13-year-old you (trust me, I’ve tried) but you can show TODAY you all the love you have to give. It might not put more money in your pocket but money comes and money goes. You might as well deal with your bank account without hating yourself on top of it.

Because even if you aren’t poor…people hate you without knowing you. Whether it’s because of your skin color, zip code, religious beliefs, political beliefs, parenting technique, sexual orientation, or a million other little things. So it’s not like people telling me what to do with my life is going to magically stop someday. It won’t.

Because it’s human nature.

Who are YOUR priority police? How do you deal with them?

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Back to Work any Minute Now

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Mr. Brickie could be working any day now.

These days are really tense.

With him being 14 working days away from a substantial raise, it would give us a little breathing room if he could just work those 14 days without issue, but the weather is our master and questioning it leads to nothing but despair.

It’s what you deal with when you work outdoors.

There is a lot of hope in these days. We all just want him to work. We hope he will. Every night we stare at his phone, waiting for it to ring, knowing it could be the call to go in to work in the morning. So far it hasn’t happened, but mostly that was because of the sheer amount of snow that was dumped on our area on Monday. Today the laborers are cleaning up the space (as long as it’s not too wet) and then if the weather holds he will work tomorrow.

One never knows, though, how the weather will ultimately go.

That being said, this week looked so great and then flood warnings and other issues came up and it didn’t look great anymore. Next week looks abysmal. Any week now, any week, we will be able to get back in the swing of the life we had for a few short months and cannot wait to get back to!

Until then, there is hope.

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The Levels of Poverty (or, what floor are you on?)

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Little known fact: I am an optimist.

If I put my life through the Facebook Positivity Filter™ it looks like this…

I have a beautiful laptop, 42″ television, can watch Hulu, Netflix, and premium cable anytime I want. My kids play on their Xbox or Wii when they want to do something, or, if they get bored they can read one of a hundred books in the house or play on iPhones or call friends on their very own cell phones. We live in a ranch house that is warm and there is food in the fridge. We have a beautiful, blue 2012 Mazda minivan and three computers in the house.

Now, if you look at that without the filter it looks different. I have a five year old laptop with a broken battery and a replaced keyboard (that I replaced myself because I can’t afford help so I use YouTube to teach me) my husband’s laptop is missing four keys, so he has to use a $10 USB keyboard and the screen has lines across it so he uses a monitor from a desktop we got in 2003 so he can kind of keep working on it. The desktop computer we have is from 2004 and I have no idea how it still works but it does and I pray it continues to. The cell phones the kids have are from FreedomPop which we bought because it was free cell phone service. Unfortunately, the call quality is so awful I couldn’t use it so I gave the phones to the kids because they could not be returned. My iPhones could not be sold for any real value because they weren’t unlocked and I owed money to AT&T for cancellation fees so I could not get them unlocked. My car is at an 11% interest rate and we are desperate to pay it off because I live in constant fear of getting it reposessed because I don’t know if we are going to have enough to make the payment. My house is in the middle of a foreclosure battle and the iPhones the kids play on are worthless on the open marketing because they are second generation. The books and video game systems were gifts to the children because most people know if you send us money we are going to spend it on bills, even if it is for the kids.

Both are reality. One is highly edited but sounds awesome. The other is what I’m thinking about when I’m trying to fall asleep at night.

Poor people trick: Buy all your kids’ jeans at the goodwill and then buy them a few name brand tops and a whole bunch of plain t-shirts. No one looks at the jeans closely enough for branding the way they do at the tops. So if the tops are the “right” brand it won’t matter if the jeans are. Do try to get jeans that are the right “type” aka flare, skinny, etc. but even that is just a detail as opposed to a necessity. Also, go to the Goodwill in the nicest neighborhood you can!! The nicer the neighborhood, the more likely you will find name brands in the racks.

Even with all that up there with the reasons and backstory and not-as-nice-as-it-first-sounds stuff going on, I’m still only a certain level of impoverished. I’m poor but I’m not REALLY poor. Honestly, we were never truly in any real danger of being homeless-level poor because I have a skillset that could get me a job if it was absolutely necessary. Luckily, my husband got the bricklayer gig and we just have to have patience and be able to exist at this level of poor for a couple years in order to have the family he has always wanted and I am totally on board with him having. 

We have hope. Hope is the difference between levels of poor. Hope is what you lose when there isn’t food in the house. I don’t mean, “There’s nothing for dinner.” when you’re looking at cabinets full of food you’re not in the mood for. I don’t mean you forgot to go grocery shopping and you don’t feel like it. I mean no. actual. food. That’s when the hope leaves.

I also got close to hopeless once when I put plastic bags on my toddler’s feet under her shoes so she could play in the snow. We could only afford boots for the older girls because they needed them for school. She was really sad about it. That made me feel pretty awful.

Oh, wait, there was also the gymnastics during the olympics where my daughter who is really gifted in gymnastics asked me if she’ll ever be able to go back to gymnastics classes and I told her yes but I could see she didn’t quite believe me. That was pretty bad. It will probably be a conversation when she is an adult as something she felt I truly denied her that could have given her the life of her dreams. It’s a shame.

That moment of almost-not-hope is what resolved me to use my tax refund to pay off everything so we can get back on track to the better life the whole family dreams of. It hurts to not use it for gymnastics classes or art classes for the other one, but if I want to be able to give them the things they need when they are 12, 13, 14…they have to sacrifice now, just like we do.

It hurts, but it’s a long-term plan. I have to hope that is enough. (But, see, there is hope.)

The next level of poverty that we are not at (because, I shit you not, there but for the grace of God go I…) I read about today. The thing is, there are a lot of “cryin’ poor” stories out there. What gets me about this one is that I have experienced some of the same symptoms. The devil is in the details, right?

Go read Jenn’s story. Her post on Poor as Folk is called, Jenn’s Words: “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis.“ You can read it now and come back to see the details I’m talking about, or you can read the rest of this post and then go over there and just notice the details. Either way, you’re about to go on the poverty overshare roller coaster. Please keep your arms and legs inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop!

  • I have snapped at one of my kids because they asked for more food but we had made what was in the house. i.e. there was not enough for seconds and there was not more food in the house.
  • I have taken the kids to IKEA for free meals and picked food off of their plates because I could not afford my own. Also in the IKEA portion of the program, I have taken my kids to IKEA playland for something free to do that’s out of the house and temperature controlled.
  • I set my thermostat really low. So low, the kids use the Snuggies they were given as birthday gifts from gramma.
  • My daughters still wear sweaters and jeans with holes in them. They have decided it’s fashionable.

Even with all those similarities, I got a tax refund. While most of it was spent on absolute necessities and a few dinners out because how I missed being waited on instead of being the waitress of my children I still gave $5 to her. I refuse to let myself become so hard that I cannot help someone else or immediately decide the person must be faking it if they have a GoFundMe account. I know I should probably also give to my absolute favorite charity Modest Needs.

See, you don’t have to be a religious person or subscribe to the law of attraction or the universe to believe that good things come back to you. My theory is this. When you do a good thing you are more likely to smile for the next few days. Whether you are smiling while talking to someone on the phone or smiling in person the person on the receiving end of the smile is more likely to give you a good deal or help if you need it.

I’ve experienced this personally many times. I can’t say it works for everyone but it keeps me from becoming bitter (which happens to be one of my greatest fears) and that is enough.

I need to live in a world where everyone isn’t a liar. It’s a choice I make and I’m okay with it. That being said, the story of that one woman who turned out to not be poor and used her GoFundMe campaign to write a book? I didn’t donate to that one.

When you are poor, there is a tone and there are examples and you can generally tell when a story is a little too good (or bad) to be true. It’s in the whole narrative. For example, if I tried to overstate how poor we are and pretended I didn’t get a tax return at all to try and get more sympathy and then talked about donating $5 to someone else instead of feeding my kids? It wouldn’t sound right.

So, if you ever need someone to double check something for you, let me know. I’m happy to help. I want people to feel good about giving. It’s a great way to feel good about ourselves. 

Also, on Jenn’s post on Poor as Folk? Don’t forget to read the comments. She is not the only one. Even if you don’t donate (and I don’t think you should or shouldn’t, really, I just shared that I did because it’s what happened) leave a comment, maybe, or a few words of encouragement or even suggestions….community is important and so many of us are so isolated.

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5 Ways To Be Happy(er) About Paying Bills

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I can’t help it.

Music, coffee, and a smile are how I greet my bills. I’ve always felt awesome about paying bills but took for granted that was a normal feeling. Over time, I realize that many people are so busy feeling the loss of what they can’t do with that money that they are getting the joy of paying bills stolen right from them. That makes me sad and I hope to help out some of those people (maybe even you?) with these tips.

No One is Going to Disney-Land-World with the Electric Bill Money

One bill is not big enough for anyone to take a vacation on. I found myself slipping on this one a little while I paid my six-month auto insurance premium and my main credit card off. “If I just carried all that credit card debt I could have taken the kids to DisneyWorld, man.” I thought sadly. Then I kind of had a moment and swung over to the, “Wait. Then I’d come back with memories, mouse ears, and the same financial mess I left behind.”

That would probably suck at least some of the joy out of those vacation memories. Maybe it wouldn’t for other people, but I tend to regret spending when it is not done from a good place. I want to know when I’m on that vacation – that I’m sure will happen one of these years – I will come home to a clean house and clean finances.

Even if all your bills for one month could get you to Epcot but then come home with two months’ worth of bills and a stack of pictures it might have been better to just pay the bills and postpone the trip.

It Is More Important to Teach Kids Boring Responsibility Than Cram Them Full of Exciting Memories

This is probably more controversial, but the reason I am happy when I pay bills is I make it a togetherness experience for me and the kids. I talk to them about bills and why we pay them and, “Isn’t it nice to be cozy warm when there’s an eight foot snow pile in our front yard?” Oh yes, they agree, it is ever so nice to be warm.

In my fantasies my kids talk like the kids from Mary Poppins with the big eyes and the breathless voices and the English accents. They can also fly and do dishes without splashing water all over my floor. I have an amazing fantasy life.

Speaking of fantasies, I know a lot of parents out there (including ME, so no high horses here) that think if they don’t give their kids wonderful memories they are failing. Like, if the kid grows up and doesn’t have some kind of anchor-memory they are not going to remember anything and we will have just been the bland, “They were fine. They loved me. I guess.” parents that don’t have the other adult-children’s friends going, “Dang! I wish my mom/dad/caregiver were that cool!”

Almost everyone I know – myself included – don’t want to be boring parents. We want to be interesting, we know things because of the Internet and want to share them, I may have spent two and a half hours playing Minecraft with my daughter last night. I don’t even like Minecraft but I was determined to find diamonds in the mine because that would be the icing on the cake of her “stayed up late to play video games with mommy” memory. Without diamonds, I felt the whole thing was a waste of getting lost down a mine shaft.

Of course she didn’t see it that way. She just loved playing Minecraft with her mom. I was the one putting the expectations on the whole deal. Don’t do what I did. Enjoy the moment even if it’s not diamond-encrusted. Also, we did find obsidion, so there’s that. (See what I did there? Silver lining!)

So get the kids involved at a level they can handle when you are paying your bills. Soon, I am going to let them pay a bill. I haven’t decided exactly how that is going to work out but I feel it’s important they are used to it by the time they have to do it themselves. I look back at myself and my $15 minimum payment to Sears when I was 21 and not paying it because I needed money to “go out” and I want to kick my younger self and make her pay that card off and start building her credit for later.

Remember Why You Pay Bills In the First Place

When I get crabby about my gas or electric bills I have this thing I do. First I go to the front door and open it. Then I open the screen door as wide as it will open. Then I either freeze or immediately start to sweat. Ta-Dum! I just reminded myself why I pay my bills. When the weather is nice my bills are low and I don’t get particularly bent out of shape about them. But those dead-of-winter prices and height-of-summer prices are a killer. Luckily those are the times where going outside is enough to remind me why I pay for climate control.

If I’m having a really smart day I look at the laptop I’m typing on and try to even wrap my brain around a life with no electricity. Then I freak out and stop thinking about it and move on feeling a lot less bitter about having to fork the cash over for my bills.

If you pay for daycare or preschool, have a few conversations with your child(ren). They will make you smile and you remember you would do anything for them. Same goes for older kids but the older they are the less a conversation will help because they get kinda mouthy as they get older and it might backfire.

If you have a spouse or significant other wandering around you might want to give them a hug. Hugs always make things better.

Remember Your Goals or Get Some Goals

If you think about a vacation or a coat or new shoes or a car or something else you could be spending the money on when your’e paying the bills, odds are good you do not have a budget with goals.

When someone has a budget they know where the money is going and how long it’s going to take to get to the goal. Then, when they pay the bills and put something away in the “Vacation Goal” savings  account (we use Capital One 360 for multiple savings accounts you can name whatever you want) you think about the vacation your’e going to take in the future and it hurts less to see the money from your checking account or from your purse/wallet going toward necessities.

Right now my Vacation Goal savings account has eight cents in it. We aren’t in a place where we can start saving for vacation. I still make sure to look at it when I’m paying bills because soon I’ll be able to put some money in there. My goal is to start saving for my goal. It works for me. It’s not perfect because I long to take a break and leave the house for some extended period of time that lasts longer than day, but it stops me from blaming my bills and that’s really all I need it to do right now.

If you haven’t written down your expenses and income on a piece of paper or in a Google Drive spreadsheet yet, do that. It’s the most basic of budgets and will let you know where you are at now so you can start making budget-based plans and decisions moving forward.

Stop Feeling Like Crap Because You Aren’t Doing Everything You Want

Whether or not you have kids, not doing the stuff you want can make you feel like a loser. I have watched other people having fun many times and wondered what I did wrong that left me in a position where I take my kids to the movies once a year. “Why can’t I just figure life out like everyone else?” is something I ask myself more times than any human ever should. I’m trying to stop beating myself up and focus on what I do have.

The big one is time. I might not be able to take my kids on a ski vacation, but I do spend time with them, talk to them, and I know they feel heard. That is important to me.

If I didn’t have kids my priority would be spending time with my husband. If I didn’t have a husband it would be spending time with my friends. I’m a very people-oriented person. Of course I want time to read, listen to music, and just dance in my living room but those are all a close second on my list to the people I’ve chosen to have in my life.

While I might not be able to give my kids name-brand clothing, I can give them attention. Even if I tell myself I’m a crap mother for not getting them better clothes, I still know the attention is important. No amount of negative self-talk can convince me otherwise.

Besides, everyone has something they want to do but can’t. Even the super rich have things they want to do that are beyond them. We all have goals, the goals just get bigger and more expensive with the size of your net worth. So don’t worry, you aren’t alone in wanting things that are just out of your reach.

Do you like paying your bills? Do you have any tips, tricks, or ideas for making your bill paying experience more fun?