As is often the case, I spoke a bit too soon in my last post. There will be 6 more furloughs, and Mike's pay will be restored to normal - sort of. We were given three options: Take the reduced pay of the 6 days spread out over the course of another 12 months; take it over the next 6 months; OR get full pay restored now, and take the hit of the furlough days when they fall in November and December (the company will be shutting down for the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas) After weighing all the pros and cons, we chose the latter option. It just gives us the most control. Starting in July, we'll have our full pay again (!) and can 1) bang out some of our smaller debts to get back on track and 2) set some aside each month to prepare for the drastically reduced pay the end of the year. After the holidays, it's behind us, and we can move forward into the new year without having to worry about furloughs.
Planning for the next six months meant once again re-working our monthly budget. I enjoy doing it, in an admittedly somewhat obsessive way. Despite the availability of the internet, the computer, and a million different spreadsheet and budget programs, I will always feel most comfortable doing it the old fashioned way - with a pen and paper. I have been doing it that way for so long, it is now in the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" category, and will forever be my preferred method. For the past few weeks I have crunched, re-crunched, and crunched again, until I finally came up with a good workable budget that should get us through to the new year.
One of the things that we really had to take a good look at was our charitable giving. The question of how and what to give has been weighing on me a lot the past few months as things have gotten more and more tight financially. I have to say, I love to give. Deciding who or what we're going to anonymously give to at Christmas time is one of my favorite parts of Christmas shopping. And giving has always been part of our monthly budget, no matter how large or small. Lately though, it has felt.... off. I don't know any other way to put it. It just hasn't felt like we've been heading in the right direction.
The Bible is very clear that we should give, especially to the poor and to those spreading the word of God - although I think it's worth mentioning that the practice of tithing 10% was an OLD testament command that was not carried over into the new law. Another thing the bible is very clear about? NOT HAVING DEBT! Should we be giving to the detriment of our own financial health? If we give first, and then end up having to use a credit card just to feed our own family, is anyone really benefiting? Should we be giving money that isn't really ours to give in the first place? Is it like the oxygen mask on an airplane? We need to put ours on before we can help someone else?
It's important to give, no question. And we'll always have that portion of our budget set aside for just that. (It is small right now, but I so look forward to it growing!) Right now though, this month, we need to get back on our feet. We need to give to ourselves.