On Having Hope

We have officially been on a budget for about 3 months now and let me tell you it is hard.

Really, really hard.

I recently wrote about the lifestyle change we have made by going on a budget.

In fact, we are on a zero dollar budget which simply put means that there is no extra. Whatsoever.

Every.single.penny is accounted for.

It either goes to a bill, or savings, or to paying off debt.

This is a really, really hard change for me.

Every single day now revolves around calculations.

If I spend an extra $20 on gas this week, I will have to omit something from another budget…what can we do without this week? Or how can I stretch the extra two pounds of chicken into a meal our entire family will eat for the next 2 days?

Life hasn’t always been this way.  This is something new.

The past 10 years hasn’t always been this way.

We haven’t always made the brightest decisions when it comes to finances. Then again, we haven’t always had the chance to make the best choices. You see when you grow up poor, the second you get any kind of money this feeling comes over you as though you have to spend that money right now or else a bill, or a collector, or something will come along to take that money from you. Before that happens you need to spend it. The heck with well thought out decisions…

Let me take it back to the beginning for you.

I grew up poor. My family was so broke it wasn’t even funny.

I started working at 14 just to buy my own clothes and any spending money I ever needed.

My parents didn’t have much to give us-thankfully we had family who were always willing to step up making sure we never did without.

I was always the kid passing  in the hand written reports while everyone else’s were typed, and double spaced, and neatly printed off their home computer.

I was the child who had web tv because we couldn’t afford a real PC, and years later when we did get our first PC ( I was a  Senior in high school) it was a rickety hand me down PC from my family members.

So needless to say I grew up with a lot less than most.

I moved out at 17.

It was a personal decision, and really for the best.  I didn’t always have the best relationship with my mother and rather than be threatened to be kicked out, or be charged rent by her, I made the conscious decision to become an adult and move out.

That’s right. While most teenagers were filling out college applications and discussing Senior prom, I was shacked up with my high school boyfriend in our apartment together.

I was determined to go to college and I can remember having a conversation with my parents where I thought there was a magical hidden savings account that had accrued interest over the years so they could send me to college. Ha! They looked right at me and told me they couldn’t help me with anything because they still had my 2 and 4 year old brother and sister to care for. So I began scraping up the $50 for each college application I was submitting.

Because of my childhood I always promised to give my children the best.

Today, we live modestly.

Both by choice and by necessity.

We have a small, two bedroom townhouse for 5 people.

My husband and I don’t have the newest clothing, electronics, and we certainly don’t have fancy expensive date nights.

I was recently part of an online discussion that asked how often do you buy a new bra? My answer? 2 years ago.

We don’t exchange birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday gifts.

Any extra always goes to our children.

They do have the best.

The best clothing, the best shoes, the best accessories, and they attend the best preschool.

Having said that I will never be one that is too good for hand me downs nor am I  one to pass up a good thrift shop find…I do love discounts and sales as much as ever-for our entire family!

Still I want more.

I want a house, with a yard, and a driveway.

I want to be able to host family gatherings and not have people be on top of one another.

Right now though I know that is not a possibility.

Some days, most days, I feel guilty for wanting more-more selfish thoughts that flood my mind on a daily basis.

As though what we have right now isn’t enough…but I know it is.

At this point in our lives, this is what we can handle. This is what we have been given.

So for now we keep trimming, we keeping saving, we keep paying off debt so that one day we can have all of that.

And that day my friends will make all of this mess worth it!

 hope

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