Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back to the Spending Diet - Unavoidable Expenses

So I'm working really hard on this spending diet thing.  I have not purchased a new camera or an iPad, which is remarkable restraint for someone who has a wide open balance on her credit card.  Or at least for me with a wide open balance.  Usually that would mean oh my God, I need to go spend some money and get something cool.  But no.  I haven't bought the new television for the bedroom that I want or the new washer and dryer either.  I've been a really good girl.  I'm even sticking to my budget for amazon.

The problem is that life keeps getting more and more expensive.  Grocery prices keep rising.  Gas prices keep rising.  We had a leak in our water softener (and thank God we found it) that cost us an extra $120 on our water bill this month.  Joey has to go to the dentist for a cleaning today and Ben will start his massive dental work on the first tooth later this month.  I've been informed that the dental insurance will pay 80% of each crown, but only up to $1500 per year.  He needs a crown on every tooth and the estimated cost is $982 per tooth.  I can't find my calculator (my things seem to wander off and not be returned), but I can do a quick mental estimate that keeps coming up at approximately $200 per tooth for the first two teeth and then the full cost of $982 if we choose to do any more teeth this year.  I am going to fight with the insurance company, but I'm tired.  Seriously tired of everything being such a huge battle to get the services we need paid for by the insurance industry that is only too happy to take money from us every month.  I sometimes wonder if one of us was to be hit by a bus or run into a tree, if the life insurance people would want to attend the autopsy just to make sure that the person is actually dead before paying on the policy I keep writing them checks to.

This morning, I got up early and drove the cat to the vet.  He needs his own dental work, among other things they will do to him while he's asleep, and that bill is going to be over $400.  What could I do?  He really needs a couple of teeth pulled and his gums are bright red.  I've heard that dental infections in cats are life threatening.  Was I supposed to let him suffer because I didn't want to spend money?   I'm just not that heartless.  (Just got a call from the vet and they had to pull five of his teeth.  This can't be a good thing!)

It seems like every time I get to a point in my life where I resolve to behave myself with my spending and get it under control, some new, major expense comes my way.  Next month, the car is going to have to go in for its annual inspection and we are almost 10,000 miles past the time when it should have gotten its 60,000 mile service.  Because I am using it more lately, I think we need to take it to the dealer and get the service done.  Plus, there's a really annoying "check engine light" that our regular mechanic just can't seem to figure out how to turn off and I have a feeling it's something the dealership puts on there to make you bring it back to them for all service appointments.  I think when I checked on how much a regular 60,000 mile service costs at the dealership many months ago, it was somewhere around $400.  But what if there's something wrong?  They always come back with an expensive repair I just have to have every single year.  How do I know if they're ripping me off or not?  We're reasonably looking at at least $1,000 in repairs.  It happens every year and it's the price we pay for having an older vehicle that is paid off and has cheap insurance.  Still cheaper than a new car, but there are a lot of days that I wish everything was within walking distance.  And, I got the bill for the pool membership for the summer.  It's going to be $300 if we pay it by May 1st and $325 if we don't.  I don't have the kids signed up for anything this summer, so I kind of feel like they need to have access to the pool.

I'm still waiting on the bill from the accountant who did such a great job on our taxes.  It had just gotten too complicated for me to do, even with the software, and I didn't trust myself not to make a mistake.  His bill is coming and he estimated around $400 to $500.  I cringe every day when I go out to get the mail because I know they're going to get around to billing me sooner or later.


All of these expenses! 

The goal, of course, is to have enough money in savings to cover all of these things so you don't have to use your credit cards.  And Justin has been incredible about paying ourselves first and building up a balance in savings.  I haven't used the I Hate You card since March and that was a very small purchase while we were up in New York.  I am trying not to add to the debt load, but the kids all need new clothes for the summer.  And shoes.  They really have to have shoes.  It's not fair to let them walk around with their toes breaking through the tops because their feet have grown two sizes since the last time we went shopping.

So, to sum up, here is what we are facing just this month:

Extra on the water bill:  $120

Cat at the vet:  $400+

Joey's Dental Cleaning: $100+ because they only cover two cleanings a year and he needs to go every three  months.

Ben's Dental Work (just for this year):  $400 plus the third tooth that really needs attention at $982

Service/Inspection of Car:  $1,000+?

Gas at $4 a gallon in an SUV that takes 20 gallons and guzzles it down like a person drinking tequila looking for the worm

My credit card: $90

Pool Membership:  $325?

Accountant:  $400+

How do you stick to a spending fast or spending diet when these things come up?  I. Am. Frustrated.  Justin keeps talking about all of the things he would like to do in the yard and they are things I would really like for him to do.  But he doesn't want to spend the money when we are facing the listed expenses above.  There are also wheels for his sports car at 50% off that he has been looking at for over five years.  They don't make them anymore and he really wants them.  But it's $1,100 and he's not willing to put out the money.  He also canceled his season tickets to the Redskins.  He says it's because it's too far to drive just to watch them lose all the time.  I think the real reason is because he doesn't want to spend the money.

All right.  So, here's my question.  Why is it that whenever I start to make progress, something(s) come up that I have absolutely no choice in whether or not I pay for them?  How do I stick to my spending diet when these people are insisting that I hand over a bunch of money?  I'm starting to feel like the federal government.  I'm never going to get out of debt.  Never.

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