Questions for tough times

I talked last time about removing the emotion around a tough situation. Over the years, I have come up with three questions to help guide me doing just that.

Q1: What is the real need?

When the washing machine broke I wanted a new washer. I needed clean clothes. The two are not the same. It was want v need.

Q2: What are my resources?

I have a wash basin. I have places I can hang clothes to drip before putting them in the dryer. I do not have the cash to replace the washer or call a repair man. Bonus resource: A house full of people who love to watch videos on how to repair things and the will to try. After two weeks we were able to trouble shoot the repair to a part that cost $35. We ordered it and installed it. The washer works now.

Q3: What is my obligation?

This one didn’t come into play as much with the washer but it has been used many times with other situations. With the washing machine my obligation was to keep the family in clean clothes so I could do that by washing a load or two every day. I was not obligated to run to the laundry mat to wash a child’s favorite shirt before bedtime.

Those are the three questions I use to cut through my emotional reactions. I hope it helps you too.

Washing Machine Woes

The evening after I posted my blog about getting back on track in September I got my first test. Our five year old washer that we bought at a scratch and dent store quit. Nothing we tried would revive it. Normally we would have enough in our emergency fund to cover the cost of a new to us washer. Right now we have $35 in that account. I have practiced separating my emotions (really you pick now to die on us washer?) and I know I will need to decide what features I want in a replacement and then save up for it.

This won’t be easy. Who really wants to wash and wring out clothes for a family of five several times a week? I can think of several things more fun than that. I have experience in making d0 though. We lived without a stove or oven for about six months. How? I used a hot plate, slow cookers, the grill and my little George Foreman grill. We had our house plumbed for a gas line so I could get a gas stove.  We sacrificed for a few months and paid cash for the new line and the stove we wanted. We lived without a dishwasher for two years. That’s a lot of handwashing. We paid cash and got the one we wanted when it went on sale.

How do I plan to deal with this? I’m so fortunate to have a wash tub plumbed right next to the dryer. It even has a built in wash board. I will wash everything by hand, wringing it all out and either hanging it up to dry like I normally do or tossing it in the dryer if it is sheets or towels. I will figure out what I want in a washer and start looking around. Before you know it the cash can be saved and we can wait until the washer we want is on sale.2016-09-06-07-53-22

Start Over September

I follow a number of bloggers and vloggers who are doing No Spend Septembers. One of these years I would like to do one but this is not that year. I follow Sustainable135 on YouTube. She was addressing No Spend September but said she was going to view this month as a Start Over September. I think that is what I will be focusing on here as well.

With the unexpected repairs from storm damage, health emergencies almost every month this year and car repairs just as frequent, our emergency fund is zeroed out. Going from crisis to crisis I fell into some very bad habits. This month we are getting back on track and I have developed some ideas on how to deal with the tempests that will come in the future.

  1. I set up sinking funds. I now have an emergency fund, a car repair fund and a house fund. These are to help keep repairs from wrecking the rest of my budget.
  2. I am developing more recipes that can be made from things on hand in a matter of minutes. I will start sharing these in future blogs.
  3. I am making sure I get more rest. When I’m tired I am less likely to make good choices and less likely to stay positive when the family needs me most. I still make my daily to do lists but I mark one thing as the most important in each area and focus on that.
  4. I am spending more time connecting with the kids and the spouse. When everything is topsy turvy it helps the rest of the family to feel more stable when we take time to really talk and interact. The electronics get turned off and we are just focused on each other.
  5. I am finding free and cheap ways to pamper myself. I might take a fifteen minute soak in the tub after the kids are asleep instead of a quick shower.
  6. I am back on the cash only system to keep impulse spending down.

What are some of the ideas you have for getting back on track after an expensive few months?

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