I was thinking about December on my long walk to work this morning and how thankful I am that we made it (almost not quite over yet) through another year.
Being an author is not the easiest occupation ever. Co-running a not-for-profit bookshop is possibly even more difficult.
I'm very grateful that early in my life I learned how to plan ahead. This is a vital skill when money is scarce. And it's very scarce this year.
I did the math in my head on the way to work - was pretty easy to be honest there aren't a lot of numbers to work with - I make $300 less a month than someone on a benefit.
Yep. I do.
I am raising a teenager and a tweenager on less money than most people in this country. That equates to about $1,800 a month (no I didn't put the comma in the wrong place). BUT and this is HUGE ... we are NOT in debt.
We do not owe a red cent. All my bills are paid on time.
I have no loans. I have no credit card.
If we can't afford it we save (and it takes a LONG time).
The kids are fed, clothed, have decent jackets and shoes, and have all the required medications (that can be a bit of a killer some months with both of them having had super bad asthma this year), they had the correct school books and didn't miss out on anything during the year.
They got birthday presents and they will get Christmas presents.
It just takes a bit of thought during the year and planning.
I can't leave things until the last minute and that's probably a good thing. Often presents and so forth come from extra money I make tutoring or teaching, but more often than not that money is swallowed up by doctor visits, medication, a few extra groceries, taking the youngest to auditions, extracurricular activities (like the school ball and leavers dinner, and a dress for the year 6 Social), and the odd bottle of tequila because life without treats isn't life, it's existing, and fuck that.
We do have fish and chips once a month (if it wasn't too hard a month) and sometimes pizza! That sort of treat is reserved for when the power bill drops below the budgeted amount or I make the pizza myself which I really enjoy doing, there is something extra yummy about homemade pizza bases. :)
This time of year is hard, no matter how good you are at planning and budgeting (it's pretty easy to budget when you have bugger all, to be honest).
It's hard, not because of Christmas, but because of what comes next. It's January and Feb. It's the school uniforms and stationery, and tax bill. That's what makes it hard for me.
You know what?
I'm a little bit pleased that it's December.
Today I have my @NZSecretSanta present with me to post on my way home. I went to buy the postage online (thankfully checked my printer ink situation first) but have no ink so couldn't print the postage sticker, so it's off to the Post Shop on the way home. :)
In 11 sleeps The Knight will be home and it will be my birthday.
And I can relax a bit.
Meanwhile - next Monday Miss 10 becomes Miss 11. A whole new phase begins.
To all those awesome people who bought my books during the year, the kids and I thank you. We're super grateful.