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Tough Love

After writing yesterday’s dismal blog post and spending a blur of a night at work miserable (mostly due to my entire lack of voice and making very little money), I was feeling a bit like this:

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Pity party supplies courtesy of Kristin McFarland.

But yesterday some help arrived in the form of advice (both from you all in the comments and from a cousin who is a financial planner) and a loan. So we should be able to reach the surface this week and stop feeling like we are drowning. My cousin is lending us what we need, and without sharing too many details, we basically don’t have to pay it back — it will be repaid in the future by something else.

His condition is that we go through our finances with him in total, and I think I’m more grateful for his advice than the money. We needed help figuring out where we’re bleeding money and where we are holding ourselves back. We also needed a professional to give us some tough love. My cousin was able to pinpoint several of those areas in just one email.

I’ve always been a planner, and there is a chance (I’m not admitting anything) that I am a closet control freak. Maybe not a control freak, but I hate feeling like I’m surviving at the whims of others like I hate the smell of artichokes. And I reeeeally hate the smell of artichokes. Makes me urp.

So here’s what I’m going to do in the next month to get us from “back on track” to “moving forward:”

hauling

hauling (Photo credit: gato-gato-gato)

1. Pick up shifts. Lots of shifts.

We need to greet the New Year with more than a squeak. We need to greet the New Year with rent on the first and all our bills on time with room to spare. Ambitious? Yeah. But picking up at least a shift a week will help with it. I’ve already picked up one for this week. I’m going to try for another.

1-08-06 christmas tree 011

1-08-06 christmas tree 011 (Photo credit: takfoto)

2. No Christmas presents under the tree. 

None. We can’t afford it, and the holidays will come back around in a year. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we can make up for it next year. The biggest gift we can give ourselves this year is peace of mind. We’ll spend our day off on the 25th celebrating our marriage with a good meal and honouring our commitment to building a better life for ourselves.

Plus, if the world ends on the 21st, all that money spent on presents would be wasted anyway.

help wanted

help wanted (Photo credit: kandyjaxx)

3. Second jobs.

Neither of us work 40 hours a week right now because we just don’t get the hours, and because Spouse’s music school job cut his hours, it means the steady income in our household has been halved. We both need to pick up something on the side.

For me, it means trying to get my foot in the door at Cracked, pitching articles and hoping they pick a couple of them up. If I can find something else a couple days a week, I’ll do that too. Anything for a boost in income to get our debt paid down and our bills ahead of the game. For Spouse, it will probably mean getting something else a couple days a week and consolidating his lessons so they’re not spread out over 7 days and getting more clients. It’s not going to be easy. But the hard fact is that if we were both working 40 hours a week, we would be more than fine.

03-17-2009_uhaul-300x206

03-17-2009_uhaul-300×206 (Photo credit: David Guo’s Master)

4. Plan for a relocation.

We know we won’t be able to buy a house here, probably ever if we’re honest. The job market may be marginally better in Maryland/DC than in other places, but the cost of living is so much higher that we could take a significant pay cut elsewhere and still have more of a buffer of income. For instance, salaries in Buffalo are 12% lower than here, but the cost of living is a whopping 37% lower there than here. That’s a difference of 25%.

I’m going to start looking for Jobs (capitalised for a reason, meaning not serving tables jobs) in the summer and see what I find. The sad truth is that if I can find a decent paying job in a city like Buffalo, it would be as much as Spouse and I make now combined, with more purchasing power.

So it’s Monday. It’s a new day. I didn’t wake up with a new lease on life, per say, but I woke up with a little less of a rained on feeling. And my voice has returned from wherever it slunk off to on Thursday. Something about literally being unable to speak doesn’t help feelings of helplessness.

Thank you to everyone who left me comments yesterday and your well-wishes. We will figure it out. I’ll keep trying to get published. I’ll bounce back. I always do.

I just needed a little tough love.

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