Can you believe we’re halfway through the year already? It blows my mind. A month from now, my big kiddo starts kindergarten. I feel like it’ll be Christmas before we know it.
Thankfully, the 100+ degree days down here don’t feel at all like Christmas, so I’m not getting to carried away on my dreams of Christmas Future just yet.
I have to admit, I’m shirking away from this update a little bit. Here’s how my month went in short:
My general sense of impatience and restlessness and yearning for the future are typical symptoms that I’m trying to escape the present by procrastinating/dreaming of times other than the present. Unfortunately, none of those feelings are particularly helpful.
Here’s What Went Down
I know ya’ll are so ready to be done hearing about my kiddo’s dental quandaries, but we’re not done just yet. After shelling out $1600 and getting the first half of my kid’s mouth fixed, he somehow magically overpowered the sedative he was given during his second visit, and they couldn’t work on him at all. In short, half his mouth is still jacked.
This means that we are now down a path of scheduling an out-patient procedure at the local children’s hospital – he’ll have to go under general anesthesia to get the rest done.
This is stressful for a number of reasons.
- He’s five. Going under anesthesia is scary at any age, but he’s so little. L
- He couldn’t get his teeth fixed, and one of them is starting to hurt. It’s miserable that he’s going to have to be in pain until we can get an appointment at the hospital, which could be another month out.
- I took a day off for essentially no reason. I mean, they gave him the sedative and he was stoned, so of course I had to be with him, but in a sense it’s still a day I took off for no reason. I wish that’s something I didn’t have to think about, but unfortunately, hubs and I have limited PTO between us. Thankfully, my boss is super cool and flexible, and I was able to get some work done from home.
- Our insurance may or may not cover the anesthesia and hospital expenses, so that’s awesome.
- We’ve maxed out our dental benefit for him, so our dental insurance won’t cover any of the work done from this point forward – another $1400 or so.
Then, we got home from the dentist, where a water pipe had burst in the yard.
Extraordinarily High Expenses for the Month
Let’s take a look at our ridiculous expenses for the month:
- (800 extra) In June, we paid both mortgage and rent on our old place
- (300 extra) Utilities on our old place and turn-on fees for utilities at the new place (not counting utilities at the new place, since we live there and that’s a normal expense)
- (250) We had to replace some blinds and paint our old place
- (220) We rented a moving truck
- (300) Registration fees for summer daycare for both kids
- (210) Our A/C went out
- (240) My work shoes literally fell apart. (And I do mean literally – the sole FELL. OFF.) And my daughter needed sandals, because it’s a bazillion degrees outside.
- (1600) Dental work
- For a grand total of $3920.
This whole spiral of events wiped out our emergency fund and then some, which sent me down a nasty spiral of fear, sadness, and I’d even say mild depression. Of course, I responded completely logically by spending money on the following:
- (200+) Fast food. Not great for the waist line, and let’s be honest: there was no reason to drag out the return to cooking as long as I did beyond laziness. It was just so much easier to buy fast food than unpack the kitchen.
- (50) Audiobooks. After painting our new house mostly by myself, I had very little desire to repaint our old house entirely by myself, so I bought a series of audiobooks to keep me company.
- (100) Wine, cheese, fancy salami, and crackers. Now, strangely enough, I bought an entire half case of wine, which is the bulk of this, most of which is still sitting in my fridge. Not sure what I thought I was going to do with 6 bottles of wine, but it seemed like a grand idea at the time. We’ve really enjoyed having a glass of wine after dinner together, but seriously: why didn’t I buy just one or two bottles? Even with both of us having a glass, we’ll be sippin’ on this for some time.
- (70) Swimsuits and summer clothes for the kids. I could’ve gotten away with less here.
- (120) New work clothes. To be fair, these could go in the “need” category, since I had to wear an outfit that was borderline embarrassing to meet with a freelance client last week. Of course, if I hadn’t indulged in $200 worth of fast food, I probably wouldn’t be busting out of my trousers. Unfortunately, those burgers have been eaten and distributed, so much like with money mistakes, this waistline won’t shrink overnight.
- For a grand total of: $540.
All in all, that’s $4,460 in “unusual” spending, a large percentage of which is reckless spending on my part. Compound this with some work-related stress and some health-related stress on my part, and you’ve got one unhappy Mama.
Ultimately, as much as I’ve beaten myself up about it, it’s done now. It’s happened, and I’ve taken some time to evaluate what happened. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Emotions pay a much larger part in my spending than I’ve previously thought.
I was doing pretty well cutting back on a number of other expenditures to save for the dental expenses. This resulted in an emergency fund large enough to cover the rent and mortgage, extra utilities, and dental expenses. It didn’t really seem all that hard, and my stress was primarily around my kiddo being in pain, not the financial side of things.
However, the pipe breaking, the A/C breaking, and my shoes falling apart all on the same day set off a whole whirlwind of feelings. How are we ever going to dig ourselves out if life keeps happening? Are we ever going to achieve larger goals, or are we going to be stuck in a debt repayment cycle forever?
These thoughts are not legitimate, but they always feel like it at the time. Here’s why they’re not worth paying attention to: much like getting fat, going into debt didn’t happen overnight for us. 6 months of targeted debt repayment (and on only one targeted sector of our debt) isn’t going to pay off years of damage – much like a week of dieting won’t fix a lifetime of poor food choices.
It requires a restructuring of habits, a new mindset for making decisions, different methods for handling stress, and, as I’m learning, heaps of self-compassion, self-awareness, and self-forgiveness along the way.
2. It just takes one swipe to derail the train.
My Alternate Life had a post last week, and this line really resonated with me: “Then something will snap in me, and I’ll go on a bit of a spending binge, buying all of the things that I’ve been putting off purchasing… Most of this stuff I’d been putting off buying for months until I couldn’t anymore. Suddenly, I needed to buy all of the things but didn’t have the money for it, so on to the credit card they went.” This is me to a T. I put off buying shoes for so long that my shoes fell apart, and I couldn’t wait any longer – and I had to buy two pairs at once. And then once I’d bought the shoes, I remembered I needed new work trousers…
3. My default methods for dealing with stress aren’t ideal.
My methods for dealing with stress look like this: eat all the carbs, drink sugary beverages, spend money, and cycle through fear and loathing. Not exactly a poster child methodology for good stress management.
I used to deal with stress by exercising, which helped my mental state immensely. Still – I started to feel like my gym time was cutting into family time, since I still had a 40+ minute drive home (at the time) after hitting the gym. The membership fee was steep, so while my health had dramatically improved, I wondered if it was really worth the time and cost.
The decision ended up being made for me when my gym abruptly closed. Rather than finding a new gym, I decided to take some “rest time.” This was followed by a bad gym situation, during which I injured myself improperly lifting something, then a long period of sadness.
4. Not dealing with stress does not improve the situation.
Interestingly, not exercising hasn’t helped my mental state at all. Or my physical state. A few months ago I started to feel like I was falling apart physically, and it’s dawning on me that it’s not just a feeling. My pants don’t fit, my skin is a mess, and it’s harder and harder for me to shake off negative feelings.
Not just that, but looking at the road ahead – I’ve got a long way to go towards getting in shape. It’s going to be a long, long road – not unlike my debt repayment journey. And while it’ll be worthwhile, it will require an ongoing series of good decisions and dedication – the thought of which makes me want to cry.
However, in health and finances, there’s not much point in beating myself up. There’s more progress to be made by looking forward. And I think that in the short term, that involves in investing in healthier food and a gym membership. Avoiding that relatively small expenditure led to a much larger bill – and if I don’t reverse course now, I don’t know that my body will continue to put up with this level of abuse.
So what’s the damage? Let’s take a look:
As of May 31, 2016:
- Credit One CC – $0 (because I paid this bitch off on Jan 16th – BAM!)
- AMEX CC – $0 (because I paid this jerk off on Feb 26th – BAM!)
- Chase CC – $16,274
- Discover CC – $13,111
- Car – $13,829
As of June 30, 2016:
- Credit One CC – $50 (sounds of weeping are heard)
- AMEX CC – $0 (because I paid this jerk off on Feb 26th – BAM!)
- Chase CC – $16,094
- Discover CC – $13,372 (booooo)
- Car – $13,569
For a grand total of $43,035 – we paid off $179 in June. We’ve paid off $4,296 in 2016.
This isn’t the whole story – there was more on both the Discover and CreditOne, but I thankfully figured out that I was spending like a lunatic towards the middle of the month, and directed a larger portion of my second paycheck towards the credit cards. That paycheck was supposed to help replenish our totally wiped out emergency fund, but I just couldn’t bear those balances, so – it is what it is.
Here’s what I’m going to do now:
- Realize that my health and mental state have an impact on my happiness, my family, my finances, and my work. Therefore, whatever I need to do to invest in my health – I will do. I will not fret about spending money on a gym membership, or about the cost of buying real food. So be it, for right now.
- “This body, this day.” This mantra, compliments of the amazing Cat Ellen, has meant so much to me recently. I’m going to extend this generally to “this place, this day.” This place – financially, mentally, emotionally, physically – is where I’m at today, and I’m going to do my best with it. Truthfully, I more often say (and mean) “it is what it is.” Not in a dismissive way, but in an acknowledgment of where things stand.
- Keep fighting the good fight. Ultimately, we’re still headed in the right direction. It’s been 6 months, and this was our first major derailment. Looking back at everything that’s happened, it’s not surprising that we ran into trouble. We’ll use this as a lesson to build a larger emergency fund in the future – and practice more self-awareness in times of high stress.
Have you found that your health and finances are linked in any way? How do you manage stress?