We have a ritual in our house when it comes to mail. Mail is brought in and divided into 3 categories: junk mail, bills and magazines/catalogues. It's an easy task to rifle through the stack of mail and toss the obvious junk items. No, for the umpteenth time we do not need a coupon for a new air conditioner “ we used your coupon last year when we had to replace our old one. Don't you guys check your mailing lists?
We sometimes fight over who goes to the mailbox, because the fun part is that whoever gets the mail gets dibs on looking through the stack for the ˜good stuff ™.
Usually meaning they get the first look at the new People magazine. It's definitely important to be the first in the family to know just how the Kardashian's are faring in this economy.
The remaining mail – the bills – begins a tour of the house. At first they land on the kitchen counter, then they spend some time on the table. Sometimes they get to see the couch. At some point in the next, oh, week or so, they move to the desk near the computer ready to be paid. Unfortunately we tend to forget about them.
When both of us worked full-time, fifty-hour-a-week jobs, bill paying was done quickly as a team. When hubby was laid off, he took over bill-paying on a regular basis. Sweet! I was off the hook.
Then our roles reversed and the honor of billing paying was bestowed on me. Not my favorite task but I ™ll do it. It makes me nervous, looking at the money exiting our account like water through a sieve, with only one paycheck coming in where there used to be two.
On a positive note, it does force me to examine our finances. We have always been good at budgeting and saving, so I suppose I should be happy that we are not over-extended. We are actually in good shape. But I ™m still sad. For both the loss of one income and the loss of the money we could have saved with that extra income.
Who am I kidding? I ™m really sad about the lack of new shoes in my closet. Have you seen my new shoes? Neither have I “ there aren't any!
Here's what bugs me the most: we are comfortably living on one income when we used to have two. How can that be? What did we do with the money from the second paycheck? I didn't buy that many pairs of shoes.
Let's see where the extra moolah went:
Housekeeping “ We used to have our house cleaned every other week. Now we're down to once a month. A luxury yes, but the only way to maintain harmony in the house since hubby and I have diametrically opposed cleaning styles. To say he's meticulous is an understatement. I ™ll have vacuumed, dusted and straightened the entire house and he's still cleaning one shower. We don't have to eat there, just shower.
Cable “ OK, no savings there. Never had cable or satellite. Yes, I know “ we are the ONLY people ANYWHERE without this luxury. At least that's what our nieces and nephews tell us.
Trips “ Fun weekend trips were part of our routine, before the lay-off. Nowadays we stay closer to home. We still manage to drive out to far North Dallas on occasion. Sometimes we ™ll venture as far as Frisco. Whew, now that's a trip “ we have to pack a lunch. You can almost see the Oklahoma border, if you look close enough.
Shoes and Clothing “ Definitely not much new in either of our closets. Savings here, for sure. Nordstrom probably wonders what happened to us.
Doggie Day Care “ Gone; even the dog had to make a sacrifice. Besides she's no longer a puppy with tons of energy. She spent much of her daycare time just laying around watching the other dogs in action.
Eating Out “ We have definitely cut back on this. Our sincerest apologies to our favorite Mexican restaurant; we're sure they had to lay-off a waiter or two due to our absence.
Entertainment “ Why pay for entertainment when free stuff reigns! There are tons of festivals and free or low-cost events around town. We haven't been to a concert in ages; we actually think our hearing has improved since we're not subjected to such high decibel levels. Movies too “ last weekend was our first movie in a long time and it was such a treat to have a date. Well, I ™m not sure this classified as a real date. The movie was at 10:00 a.m., hardly a date-like ambiance. But hey, we were out.
Looking at this list makes me even more depressed. Not for the things we're missing, but for the realization that with a few living adjustments we easily could have saved one entire salary.
We ™ve definitely learned a thing or two from the lay-offs, especially the way we think about money. It's actually been very freeing, knowing that not only can we survive on one salary but feel good about it too.
Of course I still yearn for new shoes.
© Tami Cannizzaro 2011 All Rights Reserved