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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Financial Squeeze

Been a while since I didn't have to get up early and shovel my driveway. At least, it feels like it's been a while.

Part of me wants to share minor life details, like Skamper is back on The Heights. Part of me wants to rant a bit about life. Part of me is hungry and wonders why the turkey sausage and eggs aren't cooking.

How are the rest of you surviving? I got a raise in September, have no debt except my mortgage and I'm just scraping by. At least, it feels like I'm just scraping by.

I use Quicken to keep track of my money, and by the time I schedule the necessities from gas, pet food, utilities, mortgage and tithing, I have nothing left over for groceries. I still need to file my taxes and this is the first year I wonder if I'll owe the government. That raise probably moved me to a new tax bracket.

I'm not complaining. I'm one of the very few Americans who's in a good financial situation. All the years of listening to Larry Burkett and Dave Ramsey, putting money aside, living (mostly) within my means, and a few providential circumstances mean I'm not frantic every second of every day wondering how I'm going to feed the cats. However, I know most people aren't like me, and I can't imagine how they're making ends meet. I guess they're not.

One thing I have learned listening to Dave is it's never too late to start managing money, and managing money always means managing yourself first.

I've fallen off the wagon plenty of times. I can be extremely frugal for a long time and then -wham!- I can't control myself any longer and buy supplies for a catwalk (I always have the money when I do it, but it means I might be tight somewhere else for a bit). I've learned to let off steam in little ways, like a Melted Snowball once a week, to avoid those big wonk-outs.

The emergency fund is also a lifesaver. A thousand dollars kept in reserve for when the unexpected creeps up, like a cavity where there was no cavity 6 months before. I can't plan for everything, and the emergency fund stops an emergency from becoming a crisis that will bury me. The trick with the emergency fund, though, is to replenish it whenever you use it, so you might be tight for a bit afterwards. Hey, at least you don't owe 17% interest on a credit card.

I'm praying for all of us, dear readers, but the solution is complicated. It involves changing yourself, changing the culture and changing the political climate that says the government should own everything, including you and your money. Prayer is the only way to change any of that.

Happy Thursday. God is generous, and He's waiting to bless You if you'll cast your burdens on Him.

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