On Tuesdays, I pay bills. This week, I paid all the bills. I can't remember the last time I was able to do that just write the checks, matter-of-factly, in order of due date, without having to shuffle anything to the back of the pile or dial an 800 number to ask for more time. It seemed like a miracle. It is a miracle.
Before anybody gets the wrong idea, and quits their day job to become bloggers and at-home graphic designers, let me hasten to say that this sense of abundance is relative to some very lean years. We are a still a one-Korean-car family. Our home is lovely, but modest. I still carry a wad of coupons to the supermarket check out, and our children are in no danger of losing their grasp on the concept of "not in the budget."
I did overhear them telling someone that they had more presents than ever before this Christmas. But, again, that is relative to before. It was our second credit-card free Christmas, and it felt bountiful in many ways, the least of which fit under the tree.
Our horizon line is still pretty short, probably a lot shorter than most salaried people would tolerate. But the distance between us and the edge feels like it is widening. My shoulders stay at shoulder-level (as opposed to earlobe level) for longer and longer periods of time.
I could get used to that. But I'd like to stay mindful of the miracle of Tuesdays.
I've been very moved by some of the emails and comments I've been receiving from people who feel like my article in Good Housekeeping on staying married through financial hardship speaks to their situation. God bless every one of you. Hang in there.
Beyond offering up moral support, I would have liked to include some brass tacks resources in that piece, but space and other considerations precluded it.
Awesome reason #154 to have a blog.
First, the financial advisor who cheered and counselled us through, Linda Bessette, has a book, and it is wonderful. Everyone, rich or poor, needs a Linda, and now you can have her. Here's the link.
Linda, who announced her retirement last year (it is possible we drove her to it), did not know I was going to write about her part in our story. I waited anxiously for months to place a copy of the magazine in her hands.
"What were you thinking of, retiring?" I said to her. "The world needs you more than ever!"
Happily, other former and future clients had already convinced her of the same, and she has withdrawn the "gone fishing" sign. If you are in the Little Rock area, and would like to get in touch with her, please get in touch with me at kyranp c/o gmail(dot)com, and I will give you her contact information. Meantime, buy the book. It is so much more than just another how-to book on money. It's a chiropractic alignment of attitude.
Secondly, as I wrote in the article, we entered a debt-repayment program to handle the formerly-manageable credit card balances that began to cripple us as we fell under the wheels of the predatory lending machine. I include mainstream institutions in that indictment. Nobody forced us to use their credit cards when we needed gas or groceries and were out of cash, but the penalties they imposed were no more ethical than the neighborhood payday lender. As we learned the hard way, they prey upon vulnerability. I don't see how it makes good business sense, and I hope recent federal legislation will go a long way to correcting a model based on kicking people when they are down.
We've been enrolled in the repayment program for a year, and our balances and interest rates have come down dramatically. Before you dial the number on the late night TV commercial for a similar-sounding service, I recommend you contact The National Foundation for Credit Counseling
, (800) 388-2227 to find a reputable, truly non-profit one, as we did.
Finally, miracles don't just happen by themselves. When no one else would give us a chance, a few relatives and family godparents helped pull us out from under the wheel. Their help gave us the time we needed to sell our house. We repaid what was lent, and hope to pay forward what was given. God willing, and then some.
I can tell you from personal experience, what is a small matter to one person can be a miracle to another. In the sidebar to the left, near the top of this page, is a link for Kiva
. It is an organization through which you can make very small or big loans to people around the world who are willing to work hard and sacrifice for a better life, but need that chance that others are born with, or luck into.
You don't have to be a millionaire to work miracles, and the person you help might make one happen for the next person. How lovely to imagine where it could all end.
Labels: lack and plenty
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