Monday, June 21, 2010

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

A financial tightrope.

Living paycheck to paycheck, whether it's because of a low income (been there), a fine income, but too many bills (been there too), or just because of unavoidable life circumstances, is not a fun place to be. It's a stressful balancing act. If you stay upright, no problem, but that threat is always there... that one little thing that will knock you off-kilter and send you flailing off to one side. You might waver and sweat and feel your heart beating faster, and then you somehow right yourself again only to live in fear of the next gust of wind.

The past few months, we have been clinging to that tightrope tighter than ever. Every single paycheck has been a juggling act. If we hold this bill another couple weeks, this one will still be on time. If we borrow money from this account, we can get that one current. If we use our Christmas money (again), we can fund that trip that we probably shouldn't have taken.

Yes, it's not fun. Somehow, it all works, but it is stressful. It's stressful, and it's HARD! The ironic thing is that with the exception of our credit card balances, everything looks a-okay on paper. Everything is current. Our mortgage and car payments are paid on time... our electric, our cable, our water, our phones... we make our minimum credit card payments, plus some... we're doing what we need to do. We're doing what responsible people should do.

It's all in illusion though. It's NOT okay! As long as we have this debt, as long as we're living paycheck to paycheck: we're still walking that precarious tightrope.

Last week, we were given an answer to a prayer, when Mike received a promotion and accompanying raise that's been long in the works. Now, I know there's no magic bullet here. I know that money doesn't solve everything, and I know that unless we do the work and make the right decisions that our situation won't improve.

But... (and oh how I love that but!)

I also know that if God's willing, and we're able, that this can be a major turning-point for us - the time we can finally start making those big credit card payments, the time we can finally stick to a budget that actually has room in it for occasional treats like going out to eat and seeing a movie in a theater, the time we can finally step off that tightrope and feel the ground beneath our feet. I'm hopeful, and it feels good.

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