I shoveled the driveway. Which probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that I’ve never done it before. It’s always been something my husband did, like mowing the lawn. It’s all very old-fashioned and cliche, I know. But I think it’s sexy to watch him do “manly” things like that. So that’s how we do it.
This year has been full of financial setbacks, of various shapes and sizes. Every time we start to feel like we’re doing okay, something pops up and cries “Me! Me! Me!” and we have to take care of it. And they never feel like going back to square one. Since I consider square one to be the day we got married. And at that point, we didn’t have any debt, we had a car that was older, but totally paid for, and Allen had just gotten an awesome job. Five years later, we do have debt, our car is nice-ish, but not paid for, and Allen’s job is starting to seem less and less awesome every day. So when things pop up, it feels more like we’re going back to square negative one and working toward zero or one.
Our most recent setback, coming the day after Christmas, feels more like square negative five. Maybe six. It feels like too many holes in a boat with only one bucket. It feels like five feet of snow. We have worked hard to trim and trim and trim the fat from our budget since I lost my job. And because of that, we were able to buy some wonderful Christmas gifts for our family. But because we’ve got things trimmed back pretty much as far as it can go, this latest setback feels insurmountable. Because it’s going to take money out of our budget beyond the point that we can reduce bills to offset it. And from what we can tell so far, there’s nothing we can do about it. So, since I couldn’t figure out how to dig us out of this new financial hole, I shoveled the driveway.
It helped, I think. I shoveled and cried and watched the driveway slowly appear. But I don’t know that I really felt any better when it was over. Though I’m proud that I finished it, and I’m happy that my husband can now park in the driveway when he gets off work. But I really wish all that shoveling would have translated into something that could fix this new problem. It didn’t.
The worst part of the whole thing, is that we would have been able to start paying them off within the next six months. We have several things that we’re paying on right now, that will be done by April. The payments that were going to them, could have gone to this. If they could have just waited. But we’re in a time where no one wants to have any patience regarding money. And we’re stuck in a money place where no one can help. Our rent is too much, and going up. But any place that we could actually afford a deposit for is in a part of town where I’d fear for my daughter. And we can’t buy a house, because our credit sucks, but trying to improve our credit is going incredibly slowly, because we can’t reduce our rent. The best way to improve your credit score is to have a credit card in good standing, but we can’t get one (and the one we had, closed our account when the economy went bad, even though we never carried a balance). We can’t use one of those debt consolidation/counseling services because our debt is almost exclusively medical and those only do consumer debt. We can’t even declare bankruptcy because you can’t get rid of judgments or student loans and those are the two biggest portions of our debt. Sure, we could get rid of a number of small debts, but the two big ones would still be there, just waiting for us to trip so they could eat us alive.
While I was shoveling, I was praying, not for a miracle. A miracle would be nice, of course, but what I was really praying for was a light at the end of the tunnel. A rainbow on the horizon. Something that might let me know that everything will be fine. My husband and I keep telling each other that. But from square negative five, it’s starting to get harder to believe it. I told him that one day, we’ll probably look back and this will be a good thing. But today, it’s so hard to see how that could ever happen.