Monday, September 27, 2010

Self-Portrait and $

This is a self-portrait Miss E took at soccer practice tonight. Peter was coaching and apparently left her in charge of the camera. I love the smile she is giving herself for this. So cute. And those pink cheeks.

As they were at soccer practice, I was at home putting Mr. T to bed and worrying. What was I worrying about you say? Money. And that is a subject I have been worrying about a lot lately. As the lady in charge of the finances around here, the buck (literally) stops with me and comes from me. I am the person everyone in the family asks if they want to buy something and lately, I am more often than not put in the very un-fun position of saying "no". Things have been extremely tight lately and it has been stressful.

The hard part for me, is that I really don't want anything extravagant. Right now if we had all the money in the world I would buy myself and Peter some clothes and shoes, pay off everything we own, take my family on a vacation to the coast, enroll both kids in gymnastics classes, participate in all the school fundraisers, buy all organic food, take the family out to dinner and movie once a month, ditto a weekend breakfast out, hire a babysitter so Peter and I can have an evening out and take the kids to a play or basketball game. See? Nothing crazy, no jetting off to Europe, fancy cars or boats or expensive jewelry (although at some point in my life I would love some of those tiny diamond stud earrings). No quitting our jobs or buying a mansion or a boat. I truly don't want those things. I don't need fancy, big or expensive stuff and in truth, they seem to just make life more complicated. But I would like to go to the grocery store whenever I want and buy whatever I want. Or not have to make the choice between which kid gets to do a class or extracurricular activity this time. Or be able to buy Mr. T an adorable fire truck fleece when I see it whether it's budgeted for or not.

We are one of those families that the recession doesn't seem to affect but it has. (Let me interrupt this pity party here - I completely understand that there are MANY families worse off than we are and I am thankful for where we are right now. Ok? Alright, back to the complaining...) The cost of everything has gone up for us, bills and goods. Peter's salary has not and in fact, it has gone down some. You do the math on that - costs up, income down. Not good.

Miss E (who listens to everything) has heard us worrying about money lately and I have had to reassure her that we are fine. And truly we are. The basics are covered, Peter's job is secure and that alone puts us in a much better position than many. It's the extras that have been so tough. We will always figure out a way to pay for soccer shoes for Miss E or to get Mr. T a winter coat (even though it might be second hand). But we have birthdays coming up and Christmas and frankly, those have me a little worried because right now there is no extra for a birthday party but I have a girl who is about to be 6 dreaming of a princess party. And how many more years do we have to throw a princess party? Now we are not the parents who overload our kids with toys and stuff or buy them things a lot. We can't and I don't believe in doing that for kids. But I do want to give my daughter some version of the birthday party she is dreaming of.

We will work it out, we always do. Right now Peter and I are forgoing new clothes, birthday presents, and some furnishings we want to replace for the house. Eating out and movies also have to wait. For the most part, other than obligatory family trips, vacations are on hold as well. Truthfully this has been the hardest period financially for us and we are just treading water trying to get by.  I know there are many people out there who are better at living on less than us. And that we have many blessings to count and I have been trying to do that every day.  We will figure it out and get by. But the day to day stress of managing this is something I personally am going to have to figure out how to deal with better. That, and how to pay for a new dryer.

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