Today I have to come up with just under a thousand dollars for my granddaughter's first semester tuition and books for college. While this is a far cry from the $40,000 the folks in my last post are paying for their daughter (God bless community colleges!), I am finding it annoyingly difficult to cobble together these funds.
And therein lies what I hate most about (relative) poverty.
It's not like I don't have assets. Or a sufficient income. Or even lines of credit or credit cards that I could access (provided, with the latter, that I unfreeze the block of ice where I currently keep them). But the debts I carry make sure that my cash flow often doesn't flow like it should.
Writing an $800 check for tuition or $180 for books should NOT be that big of a deal! And yet it is.
I'm trying to gather up the college funds without looting my $1000 emergency fund or adding additional debt. That means raiding other parts of my budget. The most flexible budgetary lines are, of course, those pertaining to food and entertainment. Unfortunately, I've already cut them about as far as I really want to--without resorting to Dave Ramsey's "beans & rice" diet. So I am figuring out which bills I can carry another month without damaging my credit rating. Comcast doesn't report payments less than 30 days late, so they can wait. The newspaper will let me go a couple of months before I get rather gently worded reminders to pay. The garbage company gives me a free ride for an extra thirty days. The water company? Forget it! They start adding fees if I'm even five days late. And the credit cards? Don't ask.
All of this means that next month, I'll have to pay double on several bills. But at least I won't have to worry about the tuition again until late January. Maybe, by then, college will have its own line item in my budget.