September was a month of change. The landscape here in Denver went from shades of green to yellows and browns and reds. The weather cooled down and daylight shortened.
At the same time I also entered a different season. It just wasn’t expected, like Fall. Some things were revealed that caught me by surprise, made me confused and sad, and have changed my perception of what I thought was true. It was heartbreaking and I found myself on the verge of tears at random times during the day.
Mental illness doesn’t just lie to its victims. It also lies through its victims.
I am starting to get used to my new normal, though I don’t like it. And I am expecting a fallout sometime in the future, which scares the hell out of me.
But for now, I pray and give it over to God. That’s the only way I can find peace in all of this.
Thankfully our finances fared better in September. My husband’s hours are rising back to normal and I’m taking every sub job I can. It’s amazing how just $1,000 extra can be the difference between confidence and stress.
I was able to reach “Super-Sub” status by the end of last school year. I had to fill at least 60 sub jobs to get my daily rate increased by 60%. I barely made it, but I was able to work 61 jobs last school year. So that meant my daily rate was over 60% more when school started up again in August. Woohoo!
I’m still cautious about working when my husband is out of town because I never know when our daughter will have a bad day. But, she’s been able to work her shifts consistently at her job since the summer, so I’ve been taking more opportunities to work.
In September, I worked 12 days. I’ve decided to stick with high schools because there are significantly less classroom management issues, and I can often be on my laptop while students are doing the assignment. Also, our district teachers get at least one 90-minute off period (sometimes two!) plus a 30-minute lunch. That means I never have more than 3 classes a day, and I always get 2 hours of time just for myself.
And this is *super* helpful when you’re writing a blog!
Here is the good & bad for September:
GOOD: August was our highest income month for the year, partially due to there being 5 Friday paydays in the month. This meant I only had to use 4 paychecks for September and use the 5th for August (which was a super tight month).
GOOD: I was able to work 12 sub days, which will add over $1,500 to our October budget.
GOOD: We had enough in the budget to pay off the balance of our electricity bill from both our previous and current bills (over $500!).
GOOD: We were still catching up from such a low-income summer, and being able to defer my student loan and skip a 529 contribution helped a lot with paying our electricity bill. I’m thankful we had this wiggle room in our expenses.
GOOD: Our water bill was lower in September than previous years. I think it has something to do with my husband decreasing the sprinkler frequency. I’m just thankful that he’s going to turn them off soon for the winter and our bill will go back down to less than $100.
GOOD: Our food bill – for both grocery & dining – was the lowest it’s been in 5 months!! I’m getting better at reducing trips to the grocery store, which cuts down how much I spend overall. I’ve also been making a monthly menu so I’m never leaving dinner to the last minute and going out to eat instead. Now when we eat out, it’s planned and usually for a special occasion.
BAD: We borrowed $200 from savings and $115 from our reserve loan to cover a shortage in our budget.
BAD: Paying off the balance of two electricity bills cost us $587.
BAD: One of our credit cards has creeped up over $1,000 in the last 4 months. My goal is to pay it off with my sub pay in October.
BAD: Our health insurance renewed in July, which meant our $3,000 deductible was back to zero. Our daughter had an overnight hospital stay in August and now our medical bills are significantly higher. But, at least we’ve already met our deductible for the year!
BAD: We had some unexpected expenses (contacts for our son, a high cell phone bill, annual debit card fees) that caused us to go over budget.
Our Savings & Our Debt
Admittedly we have made backwards progress over the summer, and we’re still trying to get out of the hole. However, now that I’m back to work, my goal is to get all of our smaller debts paid off and start paying down my student loan.
I may be a little overly optimistic though, because the holidays usually bring added expenses that aren’t included in our normal budget. Also, December is typically a low-income month for us because both my husband and I have the last two weeks of the year off to celebrate the holidays and spend time together as a family.
So, I will probably try to balance out the wants and the needs by trying to work more days, payoff less debt, and save that extra to fill in the gaps so we’re not dipping into our savings.
Fortunately we are still able to contribute 10% of my husband’s income to our 401K. So even when we fall behind in savings and debt payoff, we are still building our main retirement fund and letting compound interest do its magic.
September was really tough for me emotionally. Some things I thought were true, or fixed, or completed, were in fact false, broken and still in progress. My heart was heavy and I felt a little lost.
But my faith is in God, and that He is in control and has a plan. I just need to keep surrendering everything to Him, and trusting what He has already said. Like the lyrics of a song we sung recently in church,
I’m going to see a victory because the battle belongs to You, Lord.
And for that I am forever thankful.