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Friday, July 28, 2006

Life is too expensive (warning: whining ensues)

I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. Initially, we’d planned to go on a family trip. At first we’d thought of going east – to visit our nation’s capital (Ottawa) and maybe make it as far as the coast. We almost always travel west and have never taken our kids east. But then our budget didn’t match our vision, so we had to scale down. Instead, we planned a trip west again – to Calgary and then to Abbotsford, B.C. – because we have lots of friends and family along the way and could spend less money on accommodations.

Alas, it was not to be. Lift just got too expensive. Around the same time we found out our childcare for Maddie for the coming year was going to cost us a couple of limbs, we also found out we owed our highly-paid-pump-‘em-out-like-an-assembly-line orthodontist an additional $3500 to put braces on Nikki’s teeth. (Yes, I said ADDITIONAL – he’s already gotten more of our money than I care to part with. And no, our insurance doesn’t cover it.) Add to that Marcel’s tuition for the coming year, and all those other pesky expenses (like making sure our children have food to eat) and our trip plans went the way of the dodo bird. Extinct. Kaput. Bye bye.

Sigh. Sometimes, I get discouraged with how much everything costs and how far we are from “getting ahead”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the decision to go from 2 incomes to 1 so that Marcel could go to school, nor do I regret the choices we’ve made to simplify our lifestyles and cut out some of our superfluous expenses. It’s just that sometimes I wish it were easier. Every six months or so, we look at our expenses and try to figure out what else we can cut to make it a little easier to make it to the end of the pay period without draining the accounts dry, but by now it feels like we’ve cut pretty well everything we CAN cut. Extra vehicle? Gone. Cell phone? Cut. Dinners in restaurants? Almost entirely extinct (except maybe once every six months on special occasions). Camper? Sold. Cleaning person? History. Vacations? Not any more. Electricity? Perhaps we could light our house with candles. Water bill? Don’t think my colleagues would appreciate it if I cut out showers.

Before you say “c’mon Heather, grab some perspective – there are people starving in Africa and you’re whining about a vacation” – yeah I know. I KNOW. I’ve SEEN those people in Africa. I’ve even delivered food to them, remember? I’ve met people like Paulina who barely have enough food for their kids, let alone a table to put it on. Believe me, my whining is not without some measure of guilt. But even though I’ve seen it, I still get bummed out when, once again, we have to tell the kids we won’t be going far from home this year – AGAIN.

Oh, I’ll get over it. And I’m sure we’ll have a perfectly lovely vacation right here at home. We’ll go to the beach, go for bike rides, visit our family, go camping (in a tent) near a lake somewhere – trust me, we’ll have fun. I just wish it were the more EXPENSIVE kind of fun, that’s all.

Trying to make the best of it and maintain a good attitude, I’m going to the bookstore at lunch time to buy this book. We’ll plan some interesting day-trips and in the end, I’ll probably say “oh this was JUST AS MUCH FUN as a visit to the coast would have been!” I hope.

p.s. On a happier note, an article that’s basically the same as this post appears in this week’s edition of the Western Producer. (Sorry – unless you’re a farmer in Western Canada, you probably can’t get it.) So it seems that, even though the money gods have thumbed their collective noses in my direction, the publishing gods are smiling at me. Now if only the publishing gods would convince the money gods to work together so that I’d get paid some real money for what I get published. I’m not talking the kind of money that buys me a couple of books or takes our family out for a rare meal in a restaurant – I’m talking the kind of money that pays for braces or preschool!

7 comments:

Irene S said...

Big HUGZ to you Heather. Money issues are not fun. But you are doing good things :) Family is important!!

Irene S said...

Thought of the day Libraries are great places for books too :) Just finished reading one.

Hope said...

I used to read the Western Producer as a kid in Saskatchewan!!! I even wrote a poem for their kids section.
It does feel tough when you bust your butt and all you can do is keep your head above water. I remember a time when our washer broke, or furnace fan broke, and after buying pampers we were broke. Like, NO MONEY IN THE BANK, broke.
This too will pass, as you know.

Accidental Poet said...

You're just scared of the puppy.

Stephanie said...

It's IS hard going from 2 incomes to 1. And hard figuring out what else to cut, especially when some of those cuts involve a nicer vacation. I remember growing up with day-trip vacations, and I never once thought that they were any less fun than the other longer kind, although I'm sure my parents didn't always see it that way.

I feel your pain, only (if I can insert a bit of my own whining here) in my case, insert "vacation" for "nice backyard."

I hope you have a lovely time just being with your family and having time off from work!

oshee said...

It is very tough what you are doing. Don't cut yourself short for how hard you are all working to make it worth it for your family. My husband and I have made many of the same decisions within the past year. I applaud you and I completely give you a moment to complain about it being tough because I know you are going to move on as soon as you are done and make it all work well again.

Gina said...

Heather, I totally understand what you are saying.

It feels so petty to complain when others have so very little, but I think once in a while everyone is entitled to whine a bit. Because life is never perfect.

I think you all will have a great time over these next few weeks, but just look toward the larger picture. When Marcel begins working in just a couple of years, things will get much easier!

For what it's worth, I think you have made some admirable decisions as a family that you should be proud of.