Along with a marriage crisis, 2012 also brought us a financial crisis. Great timing, huh? The truth is we missed two mortgage payments because we were not financially responsible.
October is Ryan’s birthday, November is Kaitlyn’s birthday, December is Nathan’s birthday, plus Thanksgiving dinner and everything Christmas related (even though it was a lean Christmas), plus the emotional situation meant that without doing it on purpose, we missed those two payments. And when we got the first letter from the bank and realized what had happened, well, it wasn’t pretty.
I went to my bank branch and used their phone to call the mortgage department, and went through a long, long process with a counselor trying to figure out if we qualified for any help at all.
We were too far behind to restructure the payments, but not behind enough to qualify for help from city programs. I had been on the phone for two DAYS trying to get through to an actual person at the mortgage company, which is why I went to the branch. I know from working at the credit union that when the caller ID shows that it’s a bank employee calling, it goes through faster.
So there I was at the bank branch, sitting at an empty desk, people all around me, and when the lady on the phone told me that not only did we not qualify for help but that the only way to avoid foreclosure was to RAISE our monthly payment until the past due amounts were paid off, well, I kind of lost my shit.
I burst into giant sobbing tears right there at that desk. I felt like if one more thing went wrong, if one more negative thing happened, I was going to snap. I hung up the phone, apologized, went to the car, called Chris, and cried more.
I should just start referring to 2012 as “the year of the tears”.
In order to get completely caught up, our mortgage payment went up $300 a month. Which would have been tight but doable except for the fact that my blog income has almost completely dried up, thanks to being mostly away from it last year.
The first thing we did is sell every DVD and Blu-ray movie that we could bear to part with, which was about 3/4 of our collection. It’s surprising how emotionally attached I can feel to movies, but they were just stuff, and they could go. I even sold my entire “Angel” box set, although I held on to “Buffy”.
After that, we took a look at where we could cut back and the obvious thing to go was eating out. We were going to sit-down restaurants on average once a week, which was usually around $40 with tax and tip. We were also getting pizza every Friday, and two pizzas for us plus a small vegetarian one for Ryan plus breadsticks etc. was also around $40. AND on weekends we usually grabbed a fast food lunch one day, another $20-$30. Yikes.
I like eating out because I’m lazy. I like other people bringing me food I didn’t cook and then getting to leave the dirty plates on the table. I mean, don’t we all?
I also have a problem I suspect is pretty common – despite the millions of recipes available online, the dozens of cookbooks and cooking magazines and pages ripped out of magazines and pages printed out that I have available to me, plus the thousands of websites and blogs with free weekly meal plan suggestions, etc. – I still don’t like making a meal plan and a shopping list! I just DON’T. I do it, but I don’t like it.
Well, that had to change. We had to become the family that eats dinner at home every night. Since December, we have eaten out at restaurants exactly twice – I took the kids to a local diner for dinner when I was feeling better and Chris was getting sick, and then I got sick again, and after we were both better, we took the kids to Five Guys on a Saturday afternoon.
Okay, Chris just reminded me we also had Subway for lunch on a Saturday. But other than that, we’ve eaten every dinner and weekend meal at home. I’m kind of proud of that
The tight budget means our meals are super simple – an entree and a vegetable. My kids eat fruit for snacks after school and get a fruit and vegetable serving at lunch (we have an excellent school lunch program). We all drink a glass of milk at dinner as well. We do hot dogs, hamburgers, sloppy joes, tacos, spaghetti, chili – easy and there are usually leftovers for me to eat for lunch.
Last night at dinner I said to Chris you know what, we’ve only eaten at sit down restaurants twice since December. That’s the longest we’ve gone without eating out in years. Some nights it’s a huge pain in the ass and neither of us want to cook, so we grump at each other, but we do it.
The best part is, we’re now caught up on the mortgage payments, and the payment goes back down $300! But we intend to keep up our pinch-those-damn-pennies budget anyway, and use that money for things we really need like shoes for the kids. We’re not out of financial crisis mode yet, but we’re getting there, and that feels good.
Whew! That was a long one. If you got all the way down here, thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome