Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Money. Only Awesome If You Have Some.

Whoa. It's been over a year since I wrote here.

There is a good reason for that, albeit a sad one. This has been a place for me to stretch myself, to try to better express myself through written word; and also to share funny antidotes from life, or new truths I've discovered.

For a time, there was someone very close to me who was uncomfortable with those things. Or, who I was uncomfortable knowing these things about me. For a time, the truths of which I was becoming aware were heartbreaking. To me and to others.

There have been some huge changes in the last year since I've visited this blog.
*my address is different (although still in the same town)
*my name will soon be different
*my job is totally different
*my children are different (18 and almost 13... sigh.)
*my finances are different.

My adorable, irritating, wildly entertaining son reminded me this weekend that he goes back to school on Thursday and I promised him some new clothes, and a backpack, and perhaps even a new hat. (Can you guess the part that he cared about?? Yup. Hat and backpack.) I reminded him that I needed to check my bank account and make a budget before we could shop.

Ugh. Budget.

When I say "budget", I no longer mean "my bills are all laid out in front of me neatly and my spreadsheet has macros enabled and Dave Ramsey would be so proud". These days, it looks more like, "writing the bills I can think of that I haven't paid for a while on a post-it and crossing my fingers while I check my account that we can still eat til next payday".

I procrastinated for a while, working on house projects that I've been putting off, justifying my unwillingness to look into my finances by reassuring myself I was getting things done that I haven't made a priority. Once the morning became afternoon, Joseph was asking approximately every eleven-and-a-half minutes when we could go to the mall.

Of course, it has to be the mall. This child is no longer content with clothes from Target or Fred Meyer. And I have yet to convince him that "consignment" means "trendy vintage". He hears "other people's crap".

Finally I gave myself a talking-to and sat down to check my bank account online. As I had suspected, the money I had to last til payday was not nearly enough to pay everything required. I crossed things out, made some phone calls, looked through the refrigerator and pantry to see what we could use this coming week... and then told my beautiful, charming, annoying child the amount of money we could spend that day.

To his credit, he didn't complain. But internally, I did.

We went to the mall, we bought him some clothes, we came home and shopped online for a backpack. We stayed in the budget. We ate leftovers for dinner, I gave up the idea of getting my nails done, we did not go out for ice cream. And all the while, mentally, I was a five-year-old who was just told she couldn't get another stuffed animal at the toy store. (By the way, it's extremely attractive for a grown-ass woman to throw a mental temper tantrum about having to act like an adult.)

The next morning, while on the phone with my beautiful, amazing rock-star goddess of a sister, I was laughing at myself to her. I was describing how juvenile my attitude had been the day before, and how frustrated I was at myself for it, and how tiresome it can be to be the only grown-up in the house. (Brilliant choice of a person to whom to vent; my sissy is raising six sons and is pregnant with her seventh baby. She was, I'm sure, terribly sympathetic). As we were talking, I was half-heartedly cleaning out some boxes of things I've brought in from the car or the coffee stand and never gone through. I filed some papers, found some school supplies, threw some junk away. And found

A check for $100. Truth.

This ALWAYS happens. And I know it does. When I begin to be responsible with little, ALWAYS more is given. I am humbled by this check. A hundred dollars doesn't go far; but it means an additional bill gets paid. It means I am being provided for... even though I am the only person that brings in an income for this household. My internal feet-stomping from Saturday is embarrassing today... but the life-truth is worth the embarrassment. I am being watched over. My family is being taken care of. And I just have to be a responsible steward of what I have been given.

Today, I feel blessed. And I am wishing you an unexpected blessing today, too.