Tag Archives: recession

Mayday

shiver me timbers

One would expect to fork out money in December. The holidays, gifts, the holidays, taxes, the holidays, winter coats. It adds up. But you too, May?

First there were new shoes for my son. He’s outgrown his old ones by nearly two sizes and can no longer wear Stride Rites. Now his shoes cost as much as mine. One of us is going to have to get a paying job.

Then came a dress for me. Bathing suits for the pool. T-shirts for the child like this one that reads Shiver Me Timbers. Too cute and, at less than $6 on clearance at crewcuts, too big a bargain to leave in the store.

Next came fees for summer camp, dues for the pool, Frontline for the dog—the vet tech reminded me flea extermination would cost more—graduation gifts, teacher gifts, hotel deposits for vacation.

Gas and groceries, groceries and gas. Astronomical.

Then our dryer stopped working. A few cool Ben Franklins to replace it. Now that is one fun shopping trip.

And to top it all off, another house refinance. Since we have so far been unable to sell the house, at least we can roll the debt into one abominable snowball.

I was beginning to feel ill. Our budget was tanking.

A reality check with friends on Facebook brought validation and consensus: May spending rivals that of December. The expenses come out of nowhere like mosquitoes, and we all feel it.

For those of you whose budgets are perfectly balanced year round, congratulations. Mine used to be. And it will be again, so help me, God.

The sun will come out tomorrow. Or the next day. Or someday soon, I hope. The monster recession will end. It will be safe to go back in the water.

Take a deep breath with me now. Brave the tempests of Target and the wiles of Walmart. Sail past the sirens stationed on the endcaps to buy the staples—Cheerios, milk, bread.

Traverse the bakery section. Imagine a voice on the intercom, “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY: Ma’am, step away from the expensive, over-processed baked goods.”

Turn starboard and spot a box of doughnuts on closeout. A rare treat, and $1.50 is such a small price to pay for relief. “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY: Mom overboard! She’s going down!”

as seen at J Crew

The budget never works on paper. But somehow it all works out in real life.

Keep living. Trust His hand. Full speed ahead.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Matthew 6:31-32 NIV

The search for a song lead to Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl. I like Stefani and the pirate theme of the video made it a shoo-in for the link. The video may offend some, but get a load of the lyrics: All the riches, baby, won’t mean anything. All the riches, baby, won’t bring what your love can bring…

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House Arrest: Selling in a Buyer’s Market

the house

Got a call one Friday. An agent wanted to show our house at noon on Saturday.

So Saturday morning we parked our child in front of a DVD and my husband and I cleaned like the dickens. We’ve been doing this for the nearly two years the house has been on the market. Have it down to a science.

We can clean 4,100 square feet top to bottom in less than three hours. That includes three floors, six bedrooms, and three and a half baths of restored 1918 colonial revival perfection.

All this can be yours if, say it with me now, the price is right.

Concerned friends ask have we lowered the price, marketed sufficiently, prayed? A resounding yes to all.

We’ve dropped the price, then dropped it again. Had so many open houses, our son declared when he grows up there will be “no open houses allowed.”

We estimate more than 500 people have come through. Been featured in local society pages, magazines and online.

God knows we’ve prayed. But the For Sale sign has taken root in our yard. Its thin stakes wrap around the iron water lines far below the ground.

We bought this house in 2008 because we needed another bathroom. Our house at the time, a darling 1926 model with a gambrel roof, had three bedrooms and only one and a half bathrooms.

Discussions ensued about adding on to the current structure. Then I perused the market to see what was available.

And there I found this house, a disheveled wreck of stale wallpaper, broken fixtures, and the evidence of cats. The former owner liked cats. A lot.

But ah, what good bones! Stone pediment, marble bathrooms, carved oak panels in the living room, sunrooms facing south and east. We were taken.

Little did we know what would have been a wise investment five years ago would be a quagmire today.

We bought the house then proceeded to spend more than anticipated restoring it. After a year of tussling with contractors and painting until our arms nearly fell off, we sat down and figured it out.

Our margins were running thin physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and with each other. Our little family was lost in this house. The situation was unsustainable. We would sell.

call now

In 2008 our agent sold our previous house in 10 days. This is a different market.

The economy is weak and uncertain. Buyers are scarce, empowered and picky.

Our agent is steadfast. It’s a beautiful house, she says. It only takes one buyer.

There is nothing more we can do.

So that Friday with trepidation I said to our agent, “I don’t mean to sound cliché, but this really is in God’s hands.”

God has been faithful to provide all we need. Why should it scare me to be in His hands when it’s the safest place?

Ultimately we are safe, but this is still a battle, baby. It’s messy. There are casualties. And only God knows how it will all go down.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Faith to Be Strong and singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson are favorites for life. Listen and take heart.

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Keep on Truckin’

my ride

I’m driving a truck through the recession that seems to have no end.

A 2001 Ford F-150 Laredo Super Crew. Complete with a bed extender, a paint scrape on the rear wheel thingy, and until recently a cracked windshield.

Still has less than 100,000 miles, and we bought it new as my husband’s first baby. The next year we bought a puppy as my first baby, but that’s another post.

When the lease was up on our spiffy little SUV just more than a year ago, my husband and I decided not to renew or buy, but to share.

Such a nice word, share. We shared a car before. When we lived in Chicago where there is ample public transportation and absolutely no free parking.

We shared a car when we first moved to St. Louis. Of course we lived within walking distance of work then and had no children.

Sharing seemed like a great idea to save money. Only temporary until we get our house sold and our budget balanced, right?

Our environmentally-concerned friends applauded. Their eyes glazed over calculating the waves of greenhouse gases stymied by our one-vehicle family conversion.

I have nothing against the truck. We bought it. We own it. But driving it is another thing. It is a full body experience for me. And oh, the looks I get.

Look. I can parallel park it too. Pretty!

Like the time I drove it to Goodwill to deliver some items we’d outgrown. The manager handling donations that day had the physique of a professional football player.

He watched me pull in, slowly bank a wide left around the lot and finally dock. I could see the wheels turning in his head as all five feet four inches,125 pounds of me dismounted to unload my cargo.

“What’s a little woman like you doing with a big truck like that?” he said.

“It’s my husband’s truck,” I said.

“He must have the city car today,” he said.

“Actually, we’re sharing,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, rendered speechless.

My kindergartner expressed it best one day in the carpool line. After the arduous climb up, he buckled himself in and said, “Why? Why are we still driving this vehicle?”

Driving the truck is not an earth-friendly choice. It is not a symptom of my bout with mid-life crisis. It is not an attempt to show how tough I am, how Southern I am, or how syrupy sweet we-share-everything with my spouse I am.

the recession that has no end

Bottom line, it is a financial decision.

Best I can figure, the truck is a generous provision from God to meet our needs.

Best I can hope, our days as a one-truck family will only last until my country and I can get back to business as usual.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV

Keep on Truckin’ by Nev Nicholls. This is a classic, folks.

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