Money Matters

Every couple has a tradition. That tradition might be a weekly “date” while others might watch Predator on Valentine’s Day. Hubby and I have the best tradition. Once a year he flies interstate for a week for work, and pretty much every time he does, something falls over at the house or in our lives, and I have to deal with it all.

It started thirteen years ago, when I hadn’t quite received my permanent residency, so I couldn’t work or drive in the country. The house we were renting had a major electrical issue – the whole system went down due to overload. After electricians came to the house to check it out, they announced it was unsafe to live there until they upgraded the whole system. I stayed with a friend for two nights until they sorted it out and learned how unreliable public transport was at the time.

Since then, I’ve had to deal with leaking hot water heaters, sewage blockages, contracting Ross River Virus (a mosquito-borne virus that causes fatigue and poly-arthritis), dealing with severely cut paws of a puppy, and the list goes on. 

This year has been no different. In fact, this year has been the worst one yet. It started with my car not starting, continued with my dog somehow getting into the fully-fenced spa. I fixed it so he couldn’t again (I thought) and worked from home a day to make sure he didn’t try it again. Took the car to the mechanic. The battery was dying and needed replacing which also needed to be ordered, so I was given a loan car for the day. Only thing was that very same day, the dogs escaped the backyard and were found some 7km away (first time that’s ever happened). Luckily, my stepson was able to pick them up and bring them home. When I finally did get home with the loan car, I discovered that one of the two dogs had blistered and fully ripped off her paw pads. I couldn’t take her to the vet in the loan car but she was in agony. So I had to organize a vet to do a home visit, which cost an extra $150 on top of anesthesia and surgery. By the time hubby flew home, though, all these things were fixed. My dog was healing, the car was driving fine, and the other dog hadn’t jumped on the spa again. The only thing was the bank account was $1500 lighter, and he came home to a wife with a few more gray hairs and chaos in her eyes.

 

Ten years ago, we could only afford one pet, a cat. Money was tight then, and anything extra on the normal cost of living was uncomfortable. 

Fifteen years ago, before I moved to Australia and felt this level of financial freedom, the lesser of all these things – the car battery – would have wrecked me. My options would have been to leave the car until I could save the money to replace the battery or pawn something moderately valuable for that $300 price tag.

18 years ago, when the car was the only home my family really had, a dead battery would have been catastrophic. Likely the car would have been impounded, because $300 was more than we could make in a week and the city wouldn’t let a car sit on the side of the road permanently. Friends of friends were willing to let us stay with them as long as we could drive there, but without a car, that would have been impossible. We could barely afford the car and the gas it cost to keep it running as it was, but without the car and friends of friends letting us stay with them, we’d have never survived the few months we were effectively homeless.

It’s hard to believe that so much can change in such a short period of time. But those moments eighteen years ago, when we were one catastrophe away from living on the streets were some of the worst of my life, but it also taught me a valuable lesson: Money matters, no matter how much you wish it didn’t, but treating people with kindness costs nothing. 

That’s why, to this day, I make excuses for bad behavior, foul tempers, or forgetfulness, because you just never know if the person you’re talking to/about is one step away from ruin.

12 thoughts on “Money Matters

  1. It’s weird, right? How easy that sounds. Just be kind. But, gods damnit, is it hard sometimes.

    Just as I am on my last thread, making a 9PM run to AutoZone to buy coolant for my wife’s car, which seems to burn through a gallon a week, so to might the rude cashier be on his last thread. Maybe he’s had a rough day and I was the guy that ran in to make a last minute purchase and ask a dumb question before closing time. We can’t know these things and yet, we must persevere.

    Money matters more than I ever want to give it credit for, but also less in some ways. My wife, Shannon, built her own business and brand from the ground up. With the money she made, and my job at the time, we were alright most of the time. I have a much better job now and she’s quit her business. Money is infinitely tighter, but we are also infinitely happier.

    Her brand was killing her, almost quite literally. Because I was able to find a job (read: career) with more growth and potential, I forced her to stop working and focus on her happiness and health. She’s now making money, albeit less, doing things that she loves and that bring joy into her life. Money is still super tight, but I know it won’t always be that way. There is light if we just keep moving forward.

    Like

    1. It is sooo hard sometimes, but it’s little moments that make a bad day not quite as bad.

      I’m so glad you and your wife are happier and healthier and hope you get the financial freedom to go along with it someday!

      Like

  2. Oh, so true!
    And it is only after we have been through such kind of ruin that we realize how important it is to treat people with kindness, to accept people the way they are–they all are living a story we know nothing about!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your outlook by the end of the essay. And I thought the humor worked so well in the first paragraph. It’s there, just a bit of sarcasm, which we all need when things aren’t going so well. We have to laugh or we cry, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yeahhh I have had a lot of laughing to stop the crying moments so far this year. Who knew the next disaster in my household (this year) would be running out of tp. Lol

      Like

  4. This is such a good reminder. It makes me think of people who are especially affected by the coronavirus, with schools being closed and so many events canceled: some people aren’t going to be able to make it through the month without that work or if they have to arrange childcare for their kids.

    Like

  5. This hits home on so many levels. I can imagine a time where I didn’t know where my next meal was going to come from. This is a great piece. I like how you illustrate the importance of just being kind at the end while you yourself at one point were struggling. It shows that people can power through and overcome. Well done.

    Like

  6. Melony, you’re amazing. While in the moment, this had to be so stressful, but I hope in the aftermath, reflecting on all those years and all you’ve been through, that you give yourself credit for coping with it all on your own.

    Like

  7. I am so glad you found a way to write this essay! The second half did an especially good job of making clear points and grounding them in the reality of your own experience. The first half could stand a little tightening, but it also does a good job of showing how markedly different your life is now compared to 18 years ago. Nicely done, Mel.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s