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Friday, February 27, 2009

Show Me the Money

I learned something very valuable from my father. Money really doesn't grow on trees. I even tried to prove to him that he was wrong by planting coins in the back yard when I was little. I honestly thought that believing in money trees would miraculously grow one from my coin seeds and was sadly disappointed day after day when I discovered only soil and grass where my tree was supposed to be.

My first job netted me just enough money to realize that if I kept that job, I would soon be owing money to everybody on the planet, because my expenses were far more than my income. I didn't realize that I had to include money the government would be taking out for their share. I found no job where the reverse was true, at least for me. Expenses for raising children far exceeded any income I could have hoped to make with the experience and education I had.

So finding money where none existed was a job in itself for this mom who raised four children virtually alone.

All of my cars had problems so huge that the costs to repair all of them far outweighed their worth. The problems were never anything insignificant – the repairs included engines and transmissions. One day a coworker suggested I look into purchasing a new car since, with that particular car, I was emptying two quarts of oil every day. She was right. I was spending the equivalent of a car payment on oil every month.

But who would lend money to me? When the Consumer Credit Counseling Service tells you that you either work two full time jobs that still won't help and that the inevitability is that you will eventually have to claim bankruptcy anyway, things are very bleak. I used credit cards to buy food and clothes and to pay off other credit cards. I even went to Sears to borrow money from my Discover card to pay my Sears bill. Things were that bad. 

Somehow, maybe because I was desperate and had proof of money I was already spending on oil, I convinced a dealership to lend me the money for a new Hyundai Accent.

I learned to save money on laundry as well when I poured a tiny bit of liquid fabric softener on a rag (the same works for heavy duty paper towels) and discovered it worked as well as fabric softener sheets.

Meals were a problem, too, because my kids refused to eat leftovers. But I noticed that if the food came out of the microwave, the kids thought it was leftovers – if it came out of a pot on the stove, or from the oven, they thought it was new! Sneaking the food from the refrigerator became a game of hide and seek. They ate leftovers without realizing that what they were eating was something I had frozen the week before. Adding a different spice helped too.

More to come...

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