What we learned from struggling financially



The other day I was reminiscing of how far we have come financially in the past decade. Kevin and I were married about 12 years ago. On his first day back after our weekend Honeymoon at a local Hotel, he came home early and informed me that he was fired. I still have panic attacks every time he comes home earlier than his normally scheduled arrive time. It was a staff of 2 other guys at a small company and he mostly cleaned the building. He wasn’t doing much there and they decided to just let him go. His Dad lined him up with a temporary job selling cars while he looked for something else. Thankfully, at the time, I had a job that didn’t pay all of our bills, but we weren’t destitute. After a month of working at the Car Dealership, he landed a job at a Credit Union on my Birthday.

Fast forward to him getting paid more than others, being promoted to an assistant manager quickly, and talking to the IT department that he was interested in that field, an opening in the IT department, him starting up at the Community College for Networking, and him landing a new IT position with a nice pay raise.

Looking back, him losing his first job, which was a dead end job, was the best thing that could happen to him and our family. It is always overwhelming when a door closes unexpectedly and against your will. It is always baffling when things were right at the time, and then it abruptly changes and you are now being led in a different direction.

I got a call the other week from a friend that has been running a Preschool from her home. She had been debating back and forth about whether or not she would continue next year. Her husband sent her this video…

Immediately after watching the movie, she got a call from the fire department that she would not be able to license for the following year. She felt that she had gotten her answer. This conversation has really stuck with me, which is why I thought of doing this post.

Most of the time we have been either short or tight with finances. In Vegas we were very short. The cost of living compared to his income was a big enough gap. I remember his take home was less than just our rent, and that was without any food, gas, or anything else.

There were times we struggled emotionally. We didn’t have much to cut. We didn’t pay a cell bill, cable bill, we never went out to eat, we shopped at thrift stores. Where else could we make cuts? I always felt that if an expert analyzed our finances, they would advise us that we just needed more income. Kevin worked full time and did school full time. I had 4-5 kids at the time.

Through the process I learned several things, for us.

#1. Feel what you feel and deal with it. Stay unified and don’t fight with each other over what is something you are both trying your hardest for. My personality is to feel it, be sad, and then I get to a point that my sadness isn’t doing anything for me. Then I get proactive. What can I do in this situation?

#2. Come up with options. I tried to brainstorm ways we could supplement Kevin’s income. I started babysitting for several people. That worked for some time till I had to go on bed rest with a pregnancy. Kevin got a few sporadic computer jobs and got paid hourly so he got overtime occasionally.

#3. Put your energy into something positive. I realized that I couldn’t change our income but I could have a clean house. Sounds a bit off the topic, but coming home to or living in a messy house was just one more stress. I put more energy into teaching the kids to clean and relieving that stress from my husband’s life, and mine as well.

#4. Have fun! Once I get to that point that I realize me being discouraged and being sad isn’t helping me, I want to motivate myself to do whatever I can to resolve this, and after that, it is just time to have fun. Despite our power being turned off once or twice, we could have a dance party. We could go to the park, dig in the dirt in the backyard, take walks and really smell the roses. Life is meant to be enjoyed, even when times are tough. During this time Zack was in his Autism process and tantrums, the baby boys cried a lot, I was tired and over worked. Abby was having all her medical problems and we couldn’t find answers, we were drowning in medical debt on top of how little we had to live on as a family of 6-7. During that time, we still had fun and still enjoyed life. There were times I felt down, but we started playing games with friends, and took the kids out and just enjoyed life.

#5. Use this to make you a better person. I realized that most people, at one point in their life, will struggle financially. Everyone will have different limits. It isn’t a contest or competition as to who struggles more or has more of a right to feel what they are feeling. There will always be people who struggle less and those who struggle more. It is important to count your blessings. There is always something to be grateful for. This has motivated me to be less judgmental towards others. It has made me more compassionate and more giving. It is something I am glad I was able to experience.

#6. Menu Plan! This is one way I was able to save more once we started making more money. Now that we still have an overwhelming amount of medical bills (not $ amount, just quantity) and we are paying in student loans, we can afford all our bills which is a relief! But we are still tight. One of the biggest things that has helped is to menu plan. We eat 99% of our meals at home, homemade. One thing that always got me was “4pm, what am I going to make” syndrome. Once I figured something out I would realize I was missing an ingredient and then spend way more at the store grabbing more things. I now make a 2 week menu plan that coincides with Kevin’s paychecks. I check all ingredients and make my shopping list. Not only is it saving me a ton of money, I have ideas every night and have all the ingredients. I no longer have to gather all 6 to run to the store for 1 thing turned 20 things.

I am not a financial expert, we make mistakes, but we have learned a lot through this process. What tips do you use to help with finances?

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