The problem of buying things you need is that you can’t buy things that you want.

It seems that I want a lot of things.

That is the dilemma that I am facing as my stove saga drags on. Basically, my stove broke and we thought that we would be able to fix it. However, after a visit from a stove guy and a guy from the gas company, we are facing the realization that it may not be worth it to fix the 10-year old stove and instead we may have to replace it.

Yes, we have a “Life Happens” Fund.

We are lucky enough to have the money to pay for a new stove without having to put it on the credit card but that means that the money will have to come out of another fund- money that is earmarked for something else. It doesn’t really matter what the money is earmarked for; we have money put aside for clothes, maternity leave, baby stuff or our 3-6-month emergency fund. Once we are past the amount set aside for “Life Happens” then tough choices have to be made.

Making the Deep Cuts.

The problem with living on such a tight budget is that there is not much in the budget to cut out. I have been very open before about our low-income and tight budget. Honestly, I am more frugal than I even usually let on here. You know that we have only taken a vacation once in the past 7 years but did you know our entertainment budget is approximately $4 a month? I buy myself books from the 25 cent rack of the local bookstore and my kids occasionally are allowed to puck something out from the dollar store. We also get a drink from the gas station every few months- that is the extent of our “Eating Out” budget. As I once joked on Instagram, my whole life is a no-spend diet. I am saying this not to get pity or sympathy but to explain why “cutting something out” is not really an option and when I have to cut something- it’s a deep cut that hurts. Really hurts.

Is it Worth It?

All this is to say that the optimistic post I wrote last week rings hollow. Yes- life happens and we are lucky to be able to have money put away so that we cannot go into debt for this situation but sometimes I wonder whether it would be easier to already have credit card debt so that I can add to it without feeling terrible? Would an extra thousand dollars (or more) make a difference if I was already drowning in debt? Maybe being responsible with money and our commitment to living debt-free is not worth it? Maybe we should just give up? Maybe I shouldn’t work crazy extra hours to make up the money, or live in the one maternity sweatshirt for the next few months because maternity clothes are hella expensive, or take a short maternity leave? Maybe I should just say “Screw it” and throw this stove along with everything else I want onto a credit card like so many other people.

Remember the WHY

These are definitely thoughts I have had these past few days, especially late at night when I can’t sleep.

But even as I sit here typing this out on my terrible laptop I realize that I have made the decisions in life that I have made for a reason. When things get down, it’s important to remember your “Why”. Why am I doing this in the first place? What made my husband and I decide that living debt free and saving a decent amount of money was important to us?

Doing the Best We Can

For us, it was not only one reason- it was a conglomerate of reasons. It was about the life we wanted to lead. It was about the things that we wanted to give to our kids: security and peace. It was about the other people drowning that we want to help, but can only do once we learn how to swim ourselves. It’s about the moral issues with owing people debt that you can’t really imagine yourself pay back. It’s about not wanting to be a burden to our children as we grow old. It’s about doing the right thing NOW even though it may be hard and even if we won’t ever be paid back for our good actions. It’s about doing the best we can IN THIS MOMENT without calculating about whether it will bite us in the future. It’s about making the best decision we can with the tools and information available to us.

So I guess this did turn out to be a bit of an optimistic post. I do feel better after typing this out. And who know, maybe the new stove will be cheaper than we thought it would? Maybe our side hustles will do better than we expect? It may actually all work out. It also may not all work out- but right now we can just do the best we can.

8 thoughts on “Remember the WHY

  1. You sound like a hero to me. My life has been ridiculously easy. Paid for education and a high income career. I never struggled and don’t deserve any admiration for being financially independent. But you do struggle and when you suceed you will be such a great example for others to find inspiration in. I think things will work out for you because of you.

    1. I’m no hero! (But thanks though). I have had a lot of privilege in my life and I am grateful for everything that I have ( which is more important than money). I am trying my best to help others be financially secure as i work towards that myself.

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. It sounds like you’re taking the hard road, but one that will get you right where you want to go, eventually. Hang in there!
    Sorry to hear about your stove. There’s always going to be things we need. In the past, I’ve tried seeing who can help me out with something I needed, or how I might get something cheaper – for example, I rec’d a huge box of maternity clothes from a co-worker. It was a blessing, as I couldn’t afford to buy a bunch of maternity clothes for myself at the time. I’ve also bought & sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist. Not sure if you could find a used replacement stove, from Craigslist or even a used appliance store, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Good luck!

  3. We are a one income family and we don’t make a ton of money, but we understand the sacrifices we choose to make doing that. We can definitely relate to there being no where in the budget to cut and while we have no debt and a decent savings, currently are savings rate has slowed down. We are trying to increase our income to offset that since we don’t have a budgeting problem, but more of an income problem. We want to purchase a new car and make a down payment on a house. To your point though I would rather trend water then be in debt and never have a chance to get ahead. You can’t forget your why! Thanks for your honest post and best of luck to you and your family!

  4. I’m feeling this very hard this month!

    I did a stupid thing that’s going to cost money. Normally we could handle the hit smoothly except all year long we’ve been paying unexpected huge lump sums for the dog’s vet care and medications so our reserves are depleted. I’ve worked really hard to keep those costs as low as possible but they still work out to an extra few hundred a month that we’ve had to absorb in cash flow.

    Our emergency and investing money are sacrosanct for real emergencies or our future only so they may NOT be touched. That leaves us feeling really squeezed and I feel extra bad when it was a mistake that I made, a totally non-necessity that we’re going to waste money on. We’re safe and no one was hurt, that’s the most important part, but it’s hard to shake off when every little bit cuts so deep this year.

    1. We also have some money that we NEVER touch. I am saving that for REAL emergencies so when our extra funds are depleted the cuts really hurt and really affect us. It’s especially hard when you’re beating yourself up for something dumb you did;)
      I totally understand what you’re going through!

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