Monday, August 4, 2008

The Stress of Life . . .

We felt like we were going to dodge the bullet. The cost of living and the strain of living in Connecticut left behind. The long commutes and gas consumption behind us. The high cost of everything modified. We had left behind the hustle and bustle of "the coast" for the quiet, peaceful and affordable Americana of Kansas.

We were getting out JUST in time, we "laughed" (and by "laughed" I mean wept) as we sold our overpriced and undersized house for the exact amount we paid for it 16 months earlier (after putting almost $50,000 in improvements in to the place) and we would not have to worry about money in the near future.

And we didn't. For a while. We enjoyed relative isolation here. While milk is $4/gallon, gas has never gotten that high (I read that Wichita is actually the cheapest city of its size for gas in the country) and my three-mile commute is far better than my old +20-mile commute. Our utility bills, despite having almost three times the house are about the same here as they were there. Groceries are about the same too. Cell phone is cheaper. Our cars are paid off and insurance is cheaper. Blah, blah, blah.

For a while we just enjoyed life. For the first time since we first realized how hard it would be, even with the generous IBM salary, we were breathing a financial sigh of relief. And thank GOD. I had long lived outside of my "means" in DC (before Joy's influence) and the stress of the debt I was carrying furthered my depression and blah, blah, blah. More importantly (and with greater sanity) financial stress was a big factor in Joy's sadness towards and dissatisfaction with life in Connecticut. I was more than happy to take her out of that environment and she has flourished.

None the less - having one income in an economy that is generally "darkening" has been stressful and awkward. Our savings, be it from living two seperate lives last fall (Joy and Ava here, me couch-surfing in and flying back and forth from Connecticut), from me having to constantly change over my wardrobe for the last 16 months, the new costs of parenting (Ava being in day care, etc.) or me not negotiating a better salary when I accepted this job . . . is quickly running away from us and we find ourselves somehow, and sadly, starting to get stressed.
We sat down this weekend and went over the family budget and looked at the forecast for the next few months (yes, Joy is so on top of our budget that she knows the spending trends and can forecast us a few months out). It was sobering.

We'll make it. We know we will. Life has never given us anything we can't handle and it won't give it to us any time soon. Joy and I are firm believers that everything happens for a reason and, while we don't always understand it at the time we will eventually APPRECIATE the experieince and happening.

We had a special, budget-concious "Thanksgiving" dinner last night to celebrate. Some turkey tenderloin from the discount meat (and I had a coupon too) for all and a variety of starches, veggies and even store-brand cookies for dessert for the girls.

We said a special "grace" (Ava even helped) and we focused on all the things in our life that are wonderful and that we are blessed with and we reminded each other that - weighed against all that we DID have, the millions in savings that we didn't have was NOT that important or worth the stress it could and might put on us.

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