Finances and other dirty words

I want to take a minute and discuss finances.  The lack of and the need for in particular.  I do not proclaim myself to be an expert in finances and there have been many a time that I would have saved myself much grief if I hadn’t used “creative” financing at times.   It can be hard to realize that you just do not have the funds to spend and that you are destined to a year of window shopping and not purchasing.  It sucks.  But with hard work and not very great credit, you too can be a window shopper!

I live in a fairly affluent town.  Most of the people drive newer vehicles (mainly SUV’s and hybrids).  We have three subdivisions that are HOA and have nice big cookie cutter homes in them.  If you drive by the high school parking lot you will see a good mix of cars that I can’t afford and a few beaters.   I live in this town but I am definitely not part of the affluence.

We are not poor.  At least by normal standards.  I do imagine that there are some parents in my town who think we are.  My car is 11 years old and makes funny creaking sounds.  My kids don’t wear name brand everything.  My house is not the prettiest one in town and my yard is landscaped by #4 and #5 very begrudgingly with a push mower that has seen better days.   But we do have indoor plumbing and our bills are paid.

My husband and I had to reinvent how we approached money and budgeting because frankly, neither one of us were good at it.  Our credit score was depressing, we had no savings except for the $25 that was required to keep it open, and we couldn’t have borrowed money if it was being given away for free.

So how did we get the point now where our credit scores are fair not poor?  Where banks don’t laugh at us right off the bat?  It was simple.  We paid our bills on time.  We got a semi-good interest rate very low balance credit card and only charged a small amount monthly on it.  Which we paid off every month.   We stopped going out to eat and started preparing dinners at home. Eating out became a treat instead of a habit. We cut back on household expenses.  Yes, I love our local grocery store but when I was paying $100 more for items that I could drive 15 minutes away and get for cheaper, well, it made sense.   We had cell phones that were several years old but still worked.

We did not buy anything that we could not pay cash for.  Which was a lot of nothing. Except for the smaller purchases we made with our credit card to improve our credit.  It was hard, it sucked, and it paid off.  I am not professing to have excellent credit and an unlimited credit line.  We are still a work in progress.

Yes, we could get a newer vehicle.  One that  doesn’t creak and groan.  And we would have a car note for a car that we’ll never get our money back on.  I’d rather drop off the kiddos at school and pretend that I am in a BMW and that the creaks are simply my hand-stitched leather seats settling.  The kids don’t have to wear second hand clothes but if they want something expensive than they work for it.  I’ll happily buy name brand shoes because boys are rough on shoes and the Walmart specials last about 2 months.  5 boys x 5 pairs of shoes x every 2 months =  you’re out of your mind.   Take my advice on this:  sometimes quality is better.

I am not envious of my neighbors and their new cars and new houses where everything works and clean well dressed kids.  I wonder how the heck they can afford to have so much going out all the time.  We do not have millions in savings but if something were to happen, we would be okay for awhile. That was a huge step for us.  Having a safety net is a great stress reliever.

So finances.  The definitive F word.  Scale back on what you can and enjoy what you have.   Your eulogy is not going to be about what nice shiny things you had but how much life you enjoyed while here.   And that you can take to the bank.





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