I don’t know where January went. All I know is it’s February now and I have a list of things I didn’t get to. Why do I always feel like I’m behind?
Last month was busy. And hard. My husband’s hours increased and I worked a lot. There were some doctor’s appointments, several basketball games, and – *oh yeah* – a midnight freeway wreck that totaled my daughter’s car. (She fell asleep at the wheel. She hit a freeway construction sign. She totaled the car she’s had for 5 months. She walked away without a scratch.)
At some point life started to feel really fragile. My daughter’s accident scared the hell out of me. I had to go to the doctor for some weird numbing in my arm. Then Kobe’s helicopter went down with 9 people inside. And last week my daughter was overcome with bad thoughts and ended up back in the behavioral health unit.
Too many things pointed to our mortality, and I was in a funk for most of January. I couldn’t shake the worrying and the sadness. Many days I didn’t have any motivation.
I don’t like feeling like this. I get nervous when I start to feel like I have no control. Like my life could change tragically on a dime and so much of what I give my attention to wouldn’t even matter.
I do keep telling myself that the days will eventually balance out. In a few weeks, things will be normal again and I’ll get back to my regular focus. It’s getting there, but still not 100%.
But I also don’t want to walk through these experiences just waiting to get to the other side. Life has a way of rudely shaking you after you’ve been in a comfy slumber for so long. I don’t want to miss what I’m supposed to learn, and how I’m supposed to change. I know there are lessons meant to shape me into a better version of myself.
I’m trying to remember all the good. There really is so much good. It’s just that the bad can seem bigger and louder and like such a drama queen. I don’t need to give one any priority over the other. They are both a part of life and they each have their purpose.
And besides, you need one to have the other. It’s part of the human experience.
My husband worked a lot in January, and I was able to pick up several sub jobs. I realized today that there’s only 4 months left of the school year! Dang.
My husband was recently offered a management position in his company, but the salary just wouldn’t compare to what he makes from the overtime he gets now. It’s too bad, because he would love to stop traveling, or at least travel less.
One of my long-term goals is to make enough money so he could take a position based on what he wants to do, rather than how much he needs to make. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but that’s not stopping me from moving forward. I’m going to start with writing articles for other websites and just see where that leads. I don’t need to know every step to take. I just need to take the first step.
I definitely feel my stress level is lower. Even with some large, unplanned expenses, we were able to cover everything without pulling from savings. Being able to work more this school year has made a huge difference. It’s crazy how just a couple grand more provides such a greater sense of peace.
I wonder what life would feel like if I made $5,000 a month? That sounds like so much to me, but it’s really not a lot compared to what’s possible. The only difference between $2,000 as a substitute teacher and $5,000 as a writer is the persistence to not give up. It’s the willingness to do what needs to be done to get where you want to go.
This is the year I’m committing to turn a corner. To stop procrastinating and dragging my feet. To get over the fear and push through the doubt.
I’m at a point in my life where I need to know my potential. As I get closer to retirement age, I’m thinking more about the regrets I don’t want to have in my old age, and the experiences I want to share before it’s too late.
And the legacy I want to leave. It’s heavy stuff.
But that’s for another post. For now, here’s the good and bad for January:
GOOD: Like I said before, my husband’s job schedule got busier and his overtime hours increased. This makes a *huge* difference in our bottom line every month. When those o/t hours are low, it’s tough to cover all of our expenses.
GOOD: My mom has gifted all of our kids with enough money to buy a new car when they get their licenses. When she was here for Christmas, she gave us the check for our youngest, who will be 16 next November. He doesn’t even have his permit yet, so it will be at least a year before he’s driving on his own. So, we took him down to the bank and put all that moolah into a 1-year CD. Might as well make a little interest if the money’s going to sit that long.
BAD: I already mentioned my daughter totaled her car. Did I say she only had it 5 months? Did I also say she was driving on the freeway at midnight and fell asleep? Oi-vey. She had to meet a $1,000 deductible and now her insurance is going to go up.
GOOD: I was worried the insurance company would low-ball us on the value of the car. But, the offer came in at only a grand less than the original cost. So that was a relief. Once they subtracted the deductible, she still had enough to buy a comparable vehicle. (She ended up getting another Nissan Juke, but it’s newer and nicer!)
BAD: Even though we’ve had good experiences this past year with all of the insurance claims we’ve submitted, I still want to shop around for a lower premium. But my son still doesn’t have the money to meet the deductible for his hail damage, so I’ve been in a holding pattern for a while. If I switch insurance companies, he would have to pay full price for the repair. I’ll just keep waiting.
BAD: My youngest had to get an MRI for a sports injury, and it ended up being $100 out of pocket. We didn’t have enough in our HSA to cover it, so I had to pay for it out of our regular budget.
GOOD/BAD: Our life insurance premium came due and (again) I forgot to budget for it. It’s over $600 a year, which is a lot for us to pull out of a hat. Thankfully, January has 5 paychecks, so I just kept the lowest one as part of the January budget and paid in full.
BAD: I didn’t reach my $2,000 income goal from substitute teaching. After the holidays I just wanted to take some time for myself, so I took a few days off after my husband went back to work and my youngest was back in school. It was nice, but I’m not sure it was worth the loss of income.
VERY BAD: I still haven’t paid more on my student loan. My plan was to have it paid off by the end of this school year, but it’s February and I’ve only made minimum payments so far. It seems every month something comes up that eats up any extra income.
BAD: Our daughter had to go back to the hospital for a few days. We’ve already met our deductible for this insurance cycle, but I’m worried about the 20% we’re going to be responsible for.
GOOD/BAD: Our budgets for food still went over, but not as much as previous months. I think what I allow for groceries and dining out may just be too low. So, I’m going to try increasing the amount as well as reducing what we spend. There’s gotta be a number that is realistic and doable.
Our Savings & Debt
Progress with savings and debt has been slow going for a while now. We’ve actually added almost $1,000 of credit card debt over the last 6 months. I plan on paying this off in February.
There’s only 4 months left of the school year, which means summer is going to be here soon. The summer months are always tight for us, because my husband works less and I don’t work at all. So, I’ll probably be adding more to our savings because we’re going to need it come June.
It can feel discouraging. Especially now that our medical bills are going to go up (again). But it just makes my “why” stronger.
I make sure to fill my mind with content that inspires and motivates me. I never want to lose site of what’s possible. I listen to podcasts and read books that remind me of my ability to reach my goals.
And I just keep moving forward. Because what’s the alternative? If I just stand still then the odds of me reaching financial freedom are zero.
I don’t know what the future holds. I just know that if I make choices every day that get me even a little bit closer to my goals, eventually I’ll get there.
Wow! So much to be grateful for. All the sadness I felt in January reminded me of all the blessings in my life.
I’ve never been consistent with keep a gratitude journal, because it feels like I’m writing down the same 10 things every day. But I recently read a book (forgot the name) that gave me an idea.
At the end of every day, I’ll write down what I was grateful for that day. This means I’ll need to be alert throughout the day of what I’m going to write on my list that night. I’ll probably use an app on my phone to list things as they happen, otherwise I’ll just forget. So, maybe the list will already be mostly complete by the time I go to bed. Maybe it will be more of a reminder than a reflection.
I like it. Now I just need to do it.
Here are a few things I’m so grateful for right now:
- My daughter was not injured in her accident. It could have been tragic, but we only lost the car. Cars are replaceable.
- Hospital staff taking care of my daughter. She doesn’t like being there and she’s not the most cooperative, but I know she’s safe and being taken care of.
- I have a job that gives me the flexibility to take a day off (or two) when I want. This has been invaluable to me as we continue to be there for our daughter and her recovery.
- My mother’s massive generosity. My two older kids have been able to buy late model quality vehicles that will last them for the next decade.
- Good insurance and good health. ‘Nuff said.
Staying grateful is good for the soul, but it’s also good for the mind. It helps you keep things in perspective, and remember what’s truly important in your life.
I encourage you to keep your own gratitude lists. Doing so will require you to live more in the moment, and capture even the smallest blessings that come into your life.
It takes intention, but it’s worth it.