I do know that "poverty" is relative.
I also know that by any measure other than my own, my life hardly qualifies as "living in poverty."
Nonetheless, this month, the demands of property taxes, six extra people (an adult daughter with boyfriend and their four kids) in my home, my youngest daughter's high school graduation, my granddaughter's college tuition, my grandson's summer camp and that same youngest daughter's clothing and equipment costs for her summer job (building trails in our state park system) mean that May is not only tight but it is likely I will go into more debt covering all those costs. The baby emergency fund was used in April and has not yet been replenished.
That's not good. But what is worse is how I'm handling it emotionally.
I am stressed and I am onery.
I suppose another person might handle it better when they don't have funds, even minor funds for minor pleasures. But I find it affecting so many other areas of my life. It takes away some of the joy I have with my kids and grandkids. If they want ice-cream, it's not their fault that I don't have the ready cash. When my 9 year old granddaughter brings home the summer day-camp brochure and asks if she can attend a couple of sessions, it is not her fault that I don't want to hear about it.
When my best friend calls and suggests brunch, I decline. She reminds me that I have declined for the past three weeks. Ultimately she pays, and we have a good time, but now I owe her.
I wake up in the middle of the night, obsessing about a pending debt. I dread opening my mail at home for fear it will be some bill I've forgotten.
When I am paying off debt and I can see it go down, the deprivations don't bother me nearly as much. But when I'm just treading water, and I'm getting hit with all kinds of expenses that I did not anticipate or for which I did not set appropriate amounts aside, there's no feeling of satisfaction. It just bums me out.
And when I'm bummed out, it colors every other thing. For example, I still have my trip to Japan in October planned. The tickets have been purchased and it's too late to back out now. The truth is, my finances should straighten out around August or sooner, and I have budgeted for this trip, but I don't know that I will have caught up on the increased debts by then. It's hard to get excited about something that far off (which will have expenses of its own) when I'm struggling here and now.
Yet in the end, it's not the anxiety or situational depression (which, in spite of the tone of this post, isn't all that deep) that bothers me--it is the frustration and attendant crankiness. It's not like I'm buying plasma TV's or eating out at gourmet restaurants. There's no one to blame except my younger, non-saving self, no one I can point a finger at. It's just life, in all of its unpredictiblity.
Still, it's also true that misery loves company. Have I made you miserable yet?