Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Things just got real.

I've been feeling very relaxed about money for a while now. Jake has had a steady job for two years, I make a little side money with my book sales, etc, and while we're not exactly rolling in dough, we've been able to put aside some savings and make a few purchases. Unfortunately, two of those purchases (the new van and some furniture) were financed, but we figured with the current income level we could focus, get them paid off, and be back to debt free in a few years.

I really wish we had paid cash right now.

Jake's job is with a civilian contractor for a military base - he's a maintenance electrician. Every two years or so, the contract comes up for review, to see if the government wants to keep the company or find a new one. A few days ago, we heard that the contract was renewed! We breathed a sigh of relief '  the only thing was they were going to pay out any vacation benefits to all employees, then let them start accruing time again after a certain date.

Today Jake's boss got another email - cut one of the day guys. Jake is only an electrician - he has no other "official" skills, such as HVAC - so he was told he's getting laid off as of this week. (Edited - several other people from other shifts were also laid off, not just Jake.)

Thank goodness, he'll qualify for unemployment, and he's getting all his vacation time paid out. He still has his card open with the Union, so the first thing he'll do is sign up to get on the work list. The trouble is the list is long, and work is slow.

My face when I heard the news.

So we're going to have to get back to all the frugal things that we know how to do, and probably should have been doing all along, but let slide. Because it just got really real around here.

Step one - I've been saving half of my earnings (using the other half on our credit card to pay it down faster) to put an electric assist kit on my bike. I have enough as of today to order it and have it put on, but I'm going to pray before I go and buy it. Because my thought has been that if I use the trike (with e-assist) most of the summer, I can keep from running the van as much. The new van does get better mileage than the old van, but using no gas is better than some gas. Still, I can PEDAL the trike a lot of places, so I'm very conflicted - would the money be better spent on bills?

Step two - whether I buy the e-assist or not, ALL future side earnings will go to paying off the debt. And with Jake spending more time at home, I'll have a little more leeway to schedule massages for clients I haven't seen in a while. Me getting a "real" job is probably not feasible, considering my low income potential and figuring out how to manage Daniel's school and Tristan's care.

Step three - Oh crap, we may have to reapply for insurance for the kids! They currently have CHIP, but when he's on unemployment we actually earn TOO LITTLE for CHIP. So they may have to go back on Medicaid, which I despise, but it's better than losing the house over a doctor bill. And with that said, we may also qualify for other aid - food stamps, very likely. Ugh. I thought I'd never have to go through that again. I really don't want to go back to food stamps, but I'm not too proud to feed my family with them. If we need them, we'll use them.

Step 4 - We were beginning the application process for a scholarship for Catie's school next year. We'd definitely qualify (we did even before) but this complicates the application process - we don't KNOW what the income will be next year! So what can we tell them? But this is a non-negotiable thing for me - Catie WILL keep going to Catholic school next year. The only thing that could change that would be if there were no help of any kind in paying, and the grandparents have helped this year and offered to help next year if needed.

Step 5 - I had already paid for an upcoming 6 week phys. ed. course for Daniel ($40), but after that he really wanted to start Tae Kwon Do. Unfortunately, that's going to be postponed. It would have been a stretch before, anyway. Catie dropped Irish dance a few months ago, so nothing to cut there.

Step 6 - really, this step is continuous and included in all the others - pray. We'll pray that Jake finds another job, pray that my book sells, pray that we both can earn money in the meantime, and pray for mental and spiritual peace. Things could get a little bumpy.


  1. Well, been thinking about buying your book and not got round to it. I'm going to do it right away. I hope things improve for you and soon. Not been reading your blog for long but I do enjoy reading it across the miles.

  2. I just mentioned your blog and book on a UK site . The link is to the 'Oldstyle Moneysaving' forum, but no doubt you will find other threads readable too. All the best.

  3. I always wondered if Americans had to pay to send their kids to Catholic school. My son and daughter both attend Catholic schools, but in Canada they are gov't funded so they are free to attend. We are not Catholic, but because I was baptized into the Catholic church as a baby, my kids can attend. Christian private schools here are not free to attend. Unfortunately, they cost an arm and a leg.