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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Currency crunch

Earlier this summer, we made the decision to sell our Honda Pilot. It was a perfectly good car that was newer and had fewer miles than our mini van. But we sold it to use the proceeds to pay off some bills that were coming due. At the time it seemed like a good idea and frankly, I'd make the same decision again.

In place of the Pilot, we bought a used Volvo wagon that has been a pretty good car. That is until I pulled too far forward at the bank and drove the front end up over the sidewalk, knocking off some big plastic valance and damaging the radiator. It's not a cheap fix, but we're opting to turn it in to our insurance so we only have to pay the deductible.

Then, on the way home from Holiday World last month, the air conditioning went out in the mini van. Mike drove it that way for a while, but when the check engine light came on, he took it in. A glitch in the transmission. The mechanics said we could do a $90 fix and see if that took care of the problem. Plus, we paid $300 to have the air conditioning fixed.

Ok. That bullet only grazed us. Until last night when the transmission on the van started doing some really weird stuff, leaving us no choice but to drive it back to the mechanic to see what's going on. We're waiting for the bad news and I'm pretty sure "bad" would be welcome compared to what's in store. The van isn't worth what it would cost to put in a new transmission.

I know I'm not alone, but I just feel so cash-strapped that I can't breathe. Mike's bouts of unemployment over the past two years, combined with the expense of living separately, some indulgent instant-gratification habits, and a desire to give the kids certain experiences, have left us with not a lot of reserve.

I'm not trying to whine about money. No one put us in the situation. Believe me, I'm the first person who will stand up and say that we have not been the best stewards of our finances. Plus, we've encountered some significant medical bills over the past several years (three surgeries in the past 9 months alone). And, as Mike is quick to point out, we are in better shape than a lot of people. Still, we're not in the shape I want to be in.

We've signed up for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, which will start later this month. We say that we're ready to tackle this head-on. But, when I think about what sacrifices we'll need to make, I think that we can't cut the cable because how will we watch the Colts games? And it's good for the kids to be involved in extra-curricular activities (only one per kid). Of course, it won't hurt to keep going to my pricey salon because I'm worth the pampering, right? And I'd rather cut off my arm than give up my iPhone.

I have a feeling we're going to be our own worst enemies in this effort. But we're going to do it -- or die trying.

Thanks for listening while I "poured my heart out." Click here to connect to other PYHO posts.


Lisa said...

You can watch the Colts at my house. And if we give up cable, we'll both watch it at another friend's house.

I'm sorry you are feeling the crunch. It seems like it all comes at once, doesn't it? Hang in there sounds so lame, but do hang in there.

Shell said...

I've heard that Dave Ramsey course is great.

Money stresses seem to make everything worse. We're there, too. So much so that we are debating a major change in the next week. It literally made me throw up today. So, you're not alone in your stress and frustration.

Thanks for linking up .

Anonymous said...

I've wanted to do the Dave Ramsey seminars for awhile. One of my neighbors SWEARS he has changed their lives.

As far as the car repairs go - that totally stinks, I'm sorry. Check out the following info/tips from Angie's List re: repair v. replace

Kathleen said...

We took FPU back in January of 2009 and we loved it! The only debt we have now is our mortgage and one car loan (which should be paid off next year - a year earlier than planned!). We aren't as disciplined as we should be, but we're working on it, and thanks to Dave Ramsey, we have a plan. It feels good to have an Emergency Fund, even if it's not huge. This year we've had unexpected car & roof repairs, but we've been able to pay for them in cash out of the Emergency Fund. That made those events not as stressful. Good luck and have fun!

Sarah said...

I get it...I mean, we're not in exactly the same situation but I am fighting like a dog to get a job. I keep wishing that I would win the lottery or that my rich relative would leave me their vast estate but...I know that won't happen. I hope that Dave Ramsey gives you the peace you seek. Actually, I know he will because I know many people that have used his teachings to become financially free. :)

Momza said...

Shell is right--money stress affects everything else.
I don't have an I have no idea what the sacrifice of it would feel like--but if it's an unnecessary expense and adds to your stress then you'll have to wage if it's worth what it costs.
Wanna know my secret to staying out of debt?
Before I use credit or make a large purchase, I ask myself one simple question: "Is this worth the bondage I'll put my kids under while I pay it off?" Because, I believe that when we over-extend ourselves, we are truthfully, over-extending our children's resources too. They will have to sacrifice for the opportunity cost as well as the adults.
An opportunity cost is what it costs to have/buy something: ie:
if you buy a brand new car--and not pay cash, there's a car payment, the insurance, maintenance, and gas you have to pay also.
An iphone requires an extra expense as far as a phone bill is concerned, right? There's an opportunity cost involved.
So unless it's a "have-to" and not a "want-to", I have the responsibility to be wise for my childrens' sakes. And that thought alone makes alot of decisions for me. I've heard Dave Ramsay's program is awesome. We have no debt and I am grateful for that.