When times get tough, you must remember the why.
The problem with buying things you need is that you can’t buy things that you want. It seems that I want a lot of things. It can be tough to deal every day with denying yourself and not getting the things that you want. It can sometimes feel easier to just give up living responsibly and frugally.
Always Remember the WHY
That is the dilemma that I am facing as my stove saga drags on. My stove broke, and we thought that we would be able to fix it. Since this was too much for even my handy husband to DIY, we called in the professionals. 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 putting 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 saved 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 we must make tough choices. The problem is that once we pay for the stove we have to cut something else out of our budget. That is going to be very difficult.
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 seven 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 pick 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 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 have money put away so that we cannot go into debt for this situation. Still, sometimes I wonder whether it would be easier to have credit card debt already 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? Perhaps we should 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 short maternity leave? Maybe I should 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 ever paying 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 challenging 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 whether it will harm 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 knows, 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 for the best. It also may not all work out, but we can do the best we can right now. We keep trudging forward, and we need always to remember the WHY.