Thirty eight dollar and ninety six cents?

How can that be all that's left in my bank account?

I stare at the screen of the ATM machine, and retrace my steps from the past few weeks.  I don't remember spending all that money!  

Back at home, I lock myself in my office and go through my check records, but not without several knocks on my door.

"Mommy, I thought we were going to the store to get ice cream," Miss F asks from the hallway.

"We can't get ice cream today honey."

"But you promised. "

"I know baby, but I lost our money. When I find it I'll let you know." 

"Did someone steal our money?" asks my little dude, who's standing outside my office with Miss F.  He's six and loves hearing about people who break the law.  He makes sure to tell everyone he meets about the time his mother got arrested.  Even strangers. 

After a conversation with a customer service representative from the bank, I discover I wrote a check that I forgot to record.  It was for hundreds of dollars. 

Since my husband's pursuit of a mid-life career change, I have become the queen of frugality.  We have one year to go before Steve finishes school and (hopefully) gets a job in his new field.     In the meantime, he works in an entry-level position in his new industry at entry level pay.  Our challenge has been that our lifestyle requires more than entry level pay.  There is nothing flamboyant about the way we live, but simply owning and paying property taxes on a small home, two older model cars and health insurance in the state of New Jersey requires substantial effort.   

Our financial goals this year are simple:  Cut out any unnecessary expenses in order to get through the year  without debt.  In order to make this year work, our budget has been hacked to pieces.  There are no vacations or restaurant meals.  I can grocery shop on next to nothing.  I have learned to say "no" to the gamut of juvenile requests, the ice cream truck, school lunches, the Squinky dolls that live in the checkout lanes at Target, arcade games in the back of the bowling alley when one of the kids is at a birthday party.  All of those expenses add up, which results in HUNDREDS of dollars every month on "things we don't need."

I  send off a quick text message to my husband to tell him not to use the ATM machine and start brainstorming.  I can dip into our emergency fund to get through the week, but I raided that fund a month ago, to pay off Steve's hospital bills.  That was a real emergency, versus this, which is an inconvenience.  I can throw the groceries on my Visa, except I hate using credit cards.  Even though we pay them off every month, I quickly lose track of how much I'm spending when I pull out the plastic.  OK, we will do the "eat what's in the cabinet and freezer" bit until the next payday.  I just won't shop.

We're taking some risks right now to get Steve though school, and most of the time, I'm OK with them.  I have lived with "money issues" for decades, and it wasn't until the last few years, that I realized I have spent a significant part of my life making decisions that were in reaction to my financial insecurities.   Recently, I've acknowledged that my money issues are less about what we have or don't have in the bank and have more to do with what I believe I deserve, or don't deserve for that matter.  For a long time, I had an unconscious agreement with myself that I wasn't worthy of financial stability or success.  I believed I had to struggle.  I deserved to struggle. Financial security was simply not something I was entitled to.  

One of the benefits of yoga is that the more we become aware of our bodies in different postures, the more we become aware of how our minds work.  One of the greatest gifts I have received practicing yoga is the ability to detach from my own thought process enough that I can observe how I think and when possible, change these thought patterns. 

The $38.96 bank balance was unexpected, but I notice that it does not trigger the same reaction in me that it would have a few years ago, when that kind of news would have sent me into a tailspin of projections of bankruptcy, foreclosures, and homelessness. I'm cool with this.  My husband and I are lucky people.  Our situation is temporary. We have a plan.  We'll find our way.

The next day, I get a piece of mail with the return address of a company that I had purchased stock from back in my 20's, at my father's encouragement. Until this afternoon, the stock had been forgotten about for years.  However, today, Company X has paid me out for fractional shares of a stock I owned in a spinoff company due to a buyout.

I've heard before that sometimes, when you have faith, those unexpected checks arrive just at the right moment.   This was definitely the right moment for us.  I look up at the sky, and with a smile , I mouth the words,  "Thank you."

Then, I head out to the grocery store.   

Namaste, Divas!

©2012 Ilene Evans 



Lucky — 15 Comments

  1. Wonderful post.
    This past month has been hard financially – water heater AND furnace both broke. 🙁
    We are pulling back on the small things too, the knick knacks,the unnecessary, but it’s hard because we didn’t have to before!
    Best of luck!

  2. Thank you for the kind words! It’s one of those things where intellectually, I know we will be OK – and luckier than most, since we have a plan. But sometimes in the moment…WHAM! But god lessons too on re-evaluating what we really “need” versus just “want.” Thanks for stopping by!

  3. What an awesome post!! How truly inspirational. And yes you might be having to cut a lot of corners now but like you say- it is for a good reason and there is an end. And yes, I truly do believe if we are trying to do our best and live how we should things do just work out.

  4. Great post… glad things are working out for you, or at least in the process of heading in that direction. Arrested? Sheesh. No sticking your finger at the world for you today, who knows what that would turn up? And NO, that is not a dare.

  5. {Melinda} Oh my, Ilene, we are living parallel lives. Everything you said. 😉 I am trying to launch a different phase of my writing career, which means no money coming in (from me) while I try to get some things off the ground. Hopefully, they will pay dividends. Right now, they’re paying nada. So … I am the frugal queen. The coupon queen. The queen of all things cheap. To the point that my kids ask, “Are we poor?” Yea. I don’t think they understand the true meaning of the word. But, yes, God does provide and I know that is true and I have to believe it even when circumstances say otherwise. Glad you got your money from heaven! 🙂

  6. Melinda,
    I am so happy you came by, and yes! Our stories are quite parallel. I also believe that sometimes we have to give up the old in order to make room for the new (I did not mention in this post but I left Corporate America about a year ago, which has added to the money crunch in our house) And sometimes reaping the benefits of the new take time – but I fiercely believe that when we are aligned with the lives we are meant to live, that everything works out. I have faith in what you are doing and that things will work out for you, too. Thank you for leaving your blog link! xo

  7. Great post! I just realized how much I spent within the past month and was in for a big surprise. I have been out of full-time work for 2 years,trying to get my photography business off the ground and had gotten into the habit of couponing, eating what was in the pantry and freezer, and budgeting. Well since I had come into some money from a settlement, I have completely gotten out of the habit of it all. Thank you for opening my eyes! I need to get back on track.

  8. Nakiaii –
    Funny you should say that, because when we got our tax refund a few months ago, I totally got off track with our boot camp budget. And boom! That money is now gone. I am back to the hard core bookkeeping, and accept that this is temporary.
    I wish you much success with your photography business! Following a dream is definitely worth the budgeting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge