A bit of ironic history today on Climbing Out. Halloween is huge at our house. Huge. Last year I built a 26′ pier, pneumatic crates and air cannons, and talking skeletons. In fact, I usually take the week before Halloween off to finish setting up. Last year (2008) on the Friday before that week my cell phone rang…
For seven years I have worked two jobs. One is the main gig with health benefits and the like, bringing home around $4,000 each month. The other has enabled much of our current lifestyle, takes only one evening per week and brings in another $1,200 each month. Nonetheless we were living beyond our means after racking up tens of thousands in general stupidity, vacations we couldn’t afford and personal debt for The Wife’s business.
I knew it was bad news when that phone rang and I heard my boss from Job #2 say “hi”.
Losing a Third of Our Income Brought the Cards Down
The long drive home that day was a daze and I had a knot in the pit of my stomach as I began my nine-day Halloween vacation suddenly with 30% less income. I had just ran up nearly $1,000 on the Home Depot card for the coming Haunt. I spent the next week home building things and trying unsuccessfully to not think about November first. I slept poorly more often than not and even bummed a cigarette off a neighborhood gardener – something I hadn’t done in years.
Things crashed hard in December and January as all the bills caught up with us. The final check from Job #2 even came ten days late and we racked up $700 in bounced check and overdraft fees. It wasn’t until February that we picked up The Total Money Makeover and found hope again.
Making Up the Difference in Budget Cuts
Ironically we are now fighting, twisting and squeezing the budget to make our baby step goals and have succeeded in freeing nearly $1,000 per month to attack things with; only a couple hundred shy of the paycheck I lost last October.
Why hadn’t I wised up a year ago?! Running a debt snowball with that $1,200 per month plus everything we are doing now would knock this thing out in no time! Arg!!!
Then again — and here is the real point of this post — I am grateful for that phone call, the layoff and the crashing down of our financial house-of-cards. It pushed us right to the brink and made us open and willing to participate whole-heartedly when the solution was placed in our hands. Without that layoff and the chaos that followed, The Total Money Makeover might still be sitting on a shelf unread.
Where Do You Go When You Need Money? To Work!
So now we are hustling. Scrambling. Finding extra hours and extra work. Pinching our new on-paper, on-purpose budget as hard as we can. Grateful for our new path, our new life and a new future for our children.
This Halloween, however, the house will sit dark and silent. Not because we’ve sold all my props, although that may come as we get closer to the holiday, but because a dear friend is getting married that day. What kind of financial shape will we be in when Halloween comes around the following year?
If we can keep up our intensity we should be debt-free by our tenth wedding anniversary; at the end of October next year. Halloween of 2010 I predict a triumphant comeback!
This time, however, I’ll be doing it without the “help” of a credit card.