We’ve been having a bit of trouble making ends meet ever since Xy changed schools and took a $20K pay cut. Sometimes it’s that last week of the month, sometimes, just the last couple days. A number of times I’ve had to draw off our savings to make up the gap. It’s occasionally embarrassing and always worrisome.
We were just getting serious about looking for ways to save on our monthly budget, and then this bomb dropped: Yesterday morning I opened some mail and learned that our mortgage payment will be going up. Substantially. Insurance has gone up, and so have taxes, because our home assessment more than doubled. That’s a bummer, but I don’t see any error there; it seems the house was radically under-assessed last year. It sucks that the bank didn’t anticipate this correctly at the time of purchase, but that’s water under the bridge now. I talked it over with our Realtor and she confirmed that we don’t really have any options. We can mitigate a bit by making a lump payment now, which we’ll do, but the increase in our monthly payment will still be substantial. It’s going to make the monthly budget a lot tougher.
In recent years we’ve counted on a big tax refund, but with our reduced income we rethought our withholding, and so I don’t think we’ll be getting money back from Uncle Sam. We might even owe more. Shudder. Sure is a good thing Obama extended the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. Oops, I said something political. That will surely distract anyone who reads this from my actual point. Why react to my petty personal problems when you can pontificate on massive federal issues?
I have to confess that we haven’t really done any of the belt-tightening I mentioned last June. I wish there was some obvious substantial luxury expense we could forgo. Perhaps we can do enough small things to make a difference.
We always look for bargains at the grocery, but we rarely shy away from a food item because of the expense. We go to the nearest grocery rather than the cheapest. Recently I’ve cut back on the premium liquors and have been mostly drinking Bota Box. I’ve felt at liberty to buy books whenever I want them, which is at least once a month. I indulge in the occasional MP3 download from Amazon. We have our subscription to Netflix, which I still haven’t gotten around to canceling. There’s my yoga class. What else can we cut?
I guess that new fire pit is out of the question.
I may also need to rethink my attitude toward freelance work. I routinely reject queries for basic web development and consultation. Sometimes I do the work for free. But yesterday, motivated by a recent financial embarrassment, I changed my tune and said “yes” when a friend’s husband asked for my help. I quoted PJ’s old rate, $40 an hour, with a three-hour minimum. I’m sure he charges much more now, if he even does this sort of work. Jeez, I need to raise my rates already.
Financial matters have never been my strong suit, but I’m frankly worried how we’re gonna make it.