Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Such is life

We have been dealing with a bit of burnout with our living arrangements lately and everyone is counting the minutes till Mark is home on April School Vacation. At this moment his job is still up in the air. The school boeard would like to cut one and half music positions. His position has not been cut but because he has no seniority he may be bumped. It is still a waiting game. The school board will be making its decision soon. Meanwhile, we pursue our Plan B.

We have reached our monetary goals for moving. We have the down payment, and closing costs for the new house we are owner- financing. We are in the process of finding a renter for our current home for the fall, in the event that we are not able to sell it this summer. So, now we are saving money to build up our reserves.

While we are working towards our goals, we have had time to reflect on what has been good about the tough year we have been through. First and foremost, I realized that my marriage is strong. I would say, for me,that the first couple years of our marriage were a little rocky. We had Evan and moved to the country. The first year or so was a little isolating. It took a while to connect with community. It is still something of a challenge when our church, library and open play gym requires a half hour drive. However, I learned to create a rhythm to our days, find adult conversation during the day several times a week, and embraced the work of the life we have chosen. Mark has been very patient with me as I found this balance especially during some very ungraceful moments. As for this year, I have learned to let somethings go. I don't care so much about the underwear on the floor anymore. I am just grateful when he is home. We could use some more time together as a couple. But then, our whole family could use some more time together.

The other very important lesson that we have learned this year is how we manage our money. We have always been pretty frugal but there were some habits, or lack of habits, that meant that we were not really saving any money. Every weekend,now, we sit down and balance the checkbook. We both know how much money is in our accounts. We pay the bills together. We anticipate future expenses so that we can budget better for them without dipping into savings to cover them. I will admit to having some uncomfortable moments with this exercise. After we pay the bills, figure out what we need for gas, food, feed and any other expenses such as car parts or new shoes....well there is not a lot of wiggle room. But then, I realize that we put at least 500 dollars a month into the savings account.

I would say that this is our first big challenge as a family. We still have a way to go before we find ourselves in a place where the only concern we have will be what sort of barn we will be building. But I think our perspective on what is really important has changed. We love the way of living we have chosen but if we had to let it all go, we know that we would still be strong as a family. This is the most important lesson of all.


Wendy said...

You are an inspiration.

I so very much appreciate your willingness to share your life, and I'm so impressed with all of the stuff you guys have done.

And Yay! on getting the down-payment and closing costs for what sounds like a really awesome house!

Robj98168 said...

If you are happy in your life, then you are successful.

Paul said...

Wow, $500 per month into savings, that's awesome. Personally I'd suggest a Roth IRA as a "wrapper" to hold those savings. There are just so many good things about Roth IRAs, the first of which is that you can withdraw your CONTRIBUTIONS at any time without penalty or tax. And your EARNINGS on those contributions will be tax free if a qualified withdrawal made after 5 years and you're 59.5 or up, or if you want to withdraw up to $10,000 in earnings towards a down payment on a first house. Other cool things about a Roth IRA: as retirement accounts, they enjoy SOME protections from debtors in a bankruptcy or liability suit (but your savings account wouldn't), they are not considered as part of a pool a parent would be expected to contribute from towards college costs when a kid applies for financial aid on the FAFSA (but your savings accounts would) and you can invest in gold or silver or foreign account ETFs, stocks, bonds, or FDIC-insured CDs, your choice. And if you make very little money, the government will actually give you a REFUNDABLE TAX CREDIT of up to half (up to $1,000 I believe) of what you contribute into a retirement account. I am not an accountant nor tax attorney so please do your due diligence - but a Roth IRA is definitely worth looking into.

(Surfed to your journal by way of Wendy by way of John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report.)