I want to talk about money but I’m trying to think of the perfect opener to explain my spending habits and where I am today. I’ll have to settle for a bunch of statements.

  • I don’t like buying things I can’t afford. I save for things I want and if I don’t have the money then I try not to want it.
  • I save money with every paycheck, no matter how little. I’m glad I put away those $10 deposits when I need them.
  • Until last year I didn’t have any credit card debt. I use cards with cash back/points and (ULY, again) paid off the balances every month.
  • I try to spend smartly when I have to buy something.
  • I’m the kind of person who brings $20 to a group dinner and eats $17 worth of food and then dies a little because I have to split a bill and feel terrible and pay $50, or worse, someone pays for me because they know I meant to spend $20.
  • I say “I” but I have roommates. I’m married and we have two kids and two dogs and a cat and we own a house and have two cars. I’m the primary breadwinner (winning bread is a great way to save money on bread). While I can control spending by no longer buying clothes or eating out, I can’t control that people are expensive, and we sometimes have to spend money we don’t have.
  • About last year: I used savings to partially pay for a new roof (ours was both leaking and was a couple years overdue to be replaced). I had to put some of it on a credit card and I planned to pay it off within a couple months. Hey, guess what happened right after that? My car needed about $1000 in repairs, plus we had another unexpected bill, and then it was Christmas 2016. When I got a tax refund, instead of paying off the credit card, I decided to get a minor bathroom issue looked at. And the floor of the bathroom was so rotted the contractor wasn’t sure how the tub hadn’t fallen in yet. We had to have an emergency bathroom renovation, paid mostly by credit card.
  • No big deal. We can handle credit card debt. I was paying $200+ every month to pay off the balance and plan to continue paying that much and –
  • -Oh, shit. That doesn’t work because life costs too much money. We have to keep using the credit card so the regular payments only pay off the debt that accrues each month.
  • Now I hate buying all things, because when you have $10,700 in credit card debt after a decade of no credit card debt, it’s hard to think about anything else.

I think those statements cover it. I’m going to weep into my fleece blanket that I use for crying. The crying fleece was a gift, I didn’t pay anything for it. Stop judging me.

Ok back from the fleece. I ended up doing some light shouting and then I looked at the new tile in my not-rotting bathroom and now I feel better.

I have credit card debt! You probably do, too. Maybe more or less or exactly the same. The same? Jinx! You owe me $10,700! Unsecured debt. More like insecure debt, right? I feel trapped but also know that it will get better or worse, that’s how life is.

I make my monthly payments and then some. Bills are paid on time and we’re well fed, and have all mod cons, and if I save $10 a month maybe I can get a crossbody bag from Awl Snap next year. There is no disposable income when you have that much unsecured debt, but I still save money for emergencies, travel, my kids, and try to donate money every other month to something, in addition to making credit card payments. Because otherwise, what’s the point? Some things do actually matter; I lied when I said before that nothing does.

Also, I save for Christmas spending for half of the year. I have a direct deposit set up for a savings account at a bank that’s not my primary credit union. Ideally for Christmas I should spend zero dollars and put all that I saved to paying off debt. I can’t do that. I mean, I could, but I can’t. Wait, can I? Let’s put a pin in that.

Unless I need it for something else (emergencies happen, y’all), I’ll have $446.04 in my Christmas savings by the end of the year. I’m rounding up to $500 because I’m sure I can add to the pot in the next few paychecks. I have 15 non-roommate family members on my list, plus 7 people in my community of caregivers/give carers that I’d like to do something for.

Here’s how I’m breaking it down:

  • My kids: $200 (total, not each)
  • The 15: $300 ($20 a person)

That math already doesn’t work out. Let’s readjust.

  • The 15: $250 ($16.6 a person)
  • My kids: $180
  • Misc. gifts: $70

The $500 is for gifts only. I’ll have to readjust my grocery budget in December to cover additional food costs. I don’t need to buy decorations, and I can count the Christmas tree purchase as what I budget for school since I’ll get it through a PTA fundraiser)(#supportourschools).

As for the $96,000 (the post title that you read an hour ago) that figure has nothing to do with anything, but now the word “thousand” makes me think of the song “96,000” from “In the Heights,” and that’s been one of my favorite songs to listen to while I run.

$500 is a crazy amount of money. I could put that to such better use, but it’s Christmas. Back to the crying fleece!