This is it, folks. Living in the red, beyond our means, over the fiscal cliff (don’t you miss that phrase being in the news all the time?). How did we get here? That is what I ask myself. As a “do everything ourselves, hire nothing out, never take vacation, buy used, build it, do without it” sort of family, it is a legitimate question.
Once the realization dawned, we began to sort through our financial life and figure out what happened. The first change was Primal food. When we stopped buying “filler” foods like grains and beans, the grocery spending jumped significantly. However, because of the GI bill housing allowance while Mr. MDP was finishing his degree, we were still scraping by in the black. Then he graduated. God be praised for the end of the homework! Ah, the joy of having his face to look at instead of the back of his laptop. Though, I see now that it did come with a price.
We had become lax. (I admit, I am much better at paying off debt than saving.) I figured that I deserved the ease of buying already-made instead of making it myself. When we wanted a little splurge, we splurged. Sometimes it was a big splurge. That is why, when the housing allowance ceased, we found ourselves struggling to rein in the spending.
So, what will the answer look like for us?
1. Print some more money.
This would be a great option if it wasn’t illegal, immoral and against the grade-school teachers code. Also, I am not the federal government.
2. Borrow some more money.
Hmmm; paying an over-sized mortgage is sorta how we got here….. I believe where Proverbs 22 says “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” is God advising me how to save some misery and stress. I guess I continue to be slow on the uptake.
3. Earn some more money.
This one is good. It solves the problem without discomfort, however, it is also NOT an instant answer to an urgent issue. So, we should get this one moving a bit while doing something drastic such as…
4. Cut spending.
This is the one that hurts, the one that feels like suffering. (I know that this is a completely first-world problem, but it is still feels like a problem.) This is where you stop the bleeding until the scab can form.
We must adjust, just like when you turn off the light and are immersed in darkness. It seems complete darkness, but eventually you can begin to see a bit. You take a few hesitating steps, you smash your toe against a chair leg, you stretch out your hands to protect your face, you move a little faster as you start to see more and more. At first, change feels dangerous and uncomfortable, but quickly, it becomes habitual and you do these hard things without a thought. But, (there is always a but) because this first part of the transition, the period of adjustment, is so awkward, I am re-branding it.
Enter: The Adventure.
When I read stories to the kids and even to myself, the adventure is the interesting part. It is this part that fires the imagination, and makes you want to keep reading. Have you noticed that in really good adventure stories the suffering and challenge always comes before the final triumph? I want adventure in my life; to stand out from the crowd, and not just because my hair has a will of it’s own. So this is not “sticking to a budget” or “denying yourself” or “scorched earth” (although that idea is close), this is the adventure. This is the exciting, dangerous part of the story that our lovable characters (yes, that is us!) grow and stretch until the happy ending.
So, stay tuned for the how of our adventure, coming up soon!