December, for me, is turning out to be one of those months that changes my future financial path going forward. Too many bills collided at the same time together and despite my best efforts I just wasn’t prepared for them. And it’s only December 8th! It was a month that we had to buy a ton of pellets to ignite our new pellet stove ($255), the month to top off the propane tank before the winter sets in ($439), the month when DH and I finally got our new eyeglass prescriptions filled ($309 for me. $150 for DH) and the registration for our RV was due by the end of the month ($96 paid in full!). With only an allowed monthly spending account of $1400, before we even got out of the front gate, DH and I had already spent $1254. This meant that other than essentials, all future spending for the month had to cease.
Then my car battery died ($155). Then my car brakes failed ($78 for parts. DH is doing the work). Then our doggie contracted Lyme disease and another gastronomical parasite ($304 vet bill). Then DH needed a special vacuum to clean out the pellet stove every few days ($110). Then our gasoline fuel prices more than doubled ($225 a month vs $100). Our Senior Citizen Property Tax Reduction was declined because DH’s Social Security will increase our annual income above the allotted level (this was at least a $500 to $750 loss). Well, you get the picture. It was just too many things all at once!
In other words, this wasn’t going to be a nice holiday season. We have guests arriving two weekends in a row and DH and I wanted to put something under our tree this year for each other, other than coal. Just kidding. We rarely buy stuff for each other but for some reason I wanted this Christmas to be special, pandemic and all.
Needless to say, December turned into a ‘No Spend’ month for us. Anything I purchased that was non-essential, I returned and got my money refunded. We needed that money for other things. I don’t do well not spending. I am so tuned to whenever I want something I get said something and I found great difficulty saying no to myself. Once my temper tantrum subsided I decided to set up my New Year’s 2022 Resolutions in hopes of conditioning myself never to experience another unplanned ‘No Spend’ month in my life ever again.
The first problem was that my daily savings account dwindled from $5,000 to $2,400. We got hit with so many bills that I just couldn’t catch back up and replenish our daily savings account. We use this one specifically to pay unexpected bills and our annual property taxes. So, my first 2022 goal is to get this account back up to the five thousand AND set up another savings account specifically for RV traveling.
The second thing we need to do is pay off one of our zero interest loans. With all the rising costs and inflation, we really can’t be extending our monthly income to include any more zero interest loans. In doing so, it creates a problem for our monthly budget. We’ve become overextended and I do NOT like that feeling. We’ll get the remainder of this zero interest account ($875) paid off by March 1st which is the first month DH will be receiving Medicare benefits and his monthly Social Security check will be reduced by his Medicare costs. Ugh.
It was an awful feeling realizing I couldn’t tap in to our savings any longer to pay any bills because IMHO we were running dangerously a bit too low. It was also another awful feeling realizing I couldn’t use my credit cards because all the bills had used up my monthly budget expense allotment. My emergency piggy bank had already been busted. The extra cash we keep in the house was deplenished. The real shocker came when a few good RV deals came up and I didn’t have the resources to book any future travels. Thus my idea to set up a separate RV travel booking account because without adventures to look forward to, my life is very boring.
I was starting to get very down on myself, thinking I was a bad money manager or just a plain idiot when I remember these famous four words: “It’s the economy, stupid!” The financial world had changed. My usual bag of tricks weren’t working and next time around, thanks to my current experience, I’ll be better prepared. DH and I knew what we had to do. It took a while to get the courage but we did it: lowered our expenses, learned to say no and we both took on extra paid work to set aside money for future days/months/years like this.
No more money shame! We needed to think positive. So I did some research (because obviously we weren’t the first people on Planet Earth to experience such ground breaking financial woes) and I discovered these four rules for continued financial success:
#1. Take pride in your money journey. Each day brings you closer to your dreams and goals.
#2. Managing money is a skill. Sometimes it takes a lifetime just to get it right!
#3. Embrace your reality. I took a very hard look at myself. I didn’t keep my head buried.
#4. Create opportunities for success. Now that DH has taken on a part time job, we’ll have a better handle on how to compartmentualize our future funds.
I want to send a shout out to all of those who were kind enough over this past year to buy me a cup of coffee and a croissant, as part of a virtual donation. I appreciate each and every one of you for helping me feel as if my words matter. Life is a journey and who the heck wants to do it alone?
I also want to send a shout out to one of our new neighbors. DH and our new neighbor hit it off almost instantly before they even unpacked their first moving box. The two guys became almost inseparable. DH was always helping him and in turn he was always helping us. He was instrumental in getting our new pellet stove installed. This morning he and his wife stopped over to give us a little ‘something’ for the holidays. It was a gift card to Aldi! “We know how much you two love that store“, they said, “so it was an easy choice on what to get you two for all the help you extended us since we moved here“.
Making it to the end of December just got a little bit easier.
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