I am frustrated today.
I am frustrated because we were sloooowly digging out of the debt hole we went into while Michael was on three months parental leave after Baby G was born, and now there are a bunch of unexpected expenses popping up that will negate a good chunk of the progress we made. And I know! we should be putting money aside for a rainy day, but instead we’ve been using that money for debt repayment.
Last week I took the minivan in for an oil change. “Oil change $19.95!!” trumpets the big yellow banner stretched across the whole storefront. In tiny print it adds “free 23-point inspection”. It should say “don’t worry, we’ll figure out a way to get more than $19.95 out of you today”.
The appointment was supposed to take an hour. It took closer to two. Then the nice young fellow who works the desk sat next to me in the waiting area with a very solemn look on his face – like a surgeon in a bad TV drama telling the family that they couldn’t save the patient.
I had a headlight bulb out. OK, that’s fair. I had noticed the high-beams didn’t seem as bright lately; I just thought I was getting older. Fine. My sway rod needs replacing. O-kaaay. Oh, and all four tires are bald and need to be replaced IMMEDIATELY. Like, today, silly woman who has a nursing baby waiting at home. Here’s an estimate for the extra work we found during that “free” inspection. It’s for $1262.75 and what do you mean, you were only planning on spending $20 today? You must be crazy.
So I blinked a whole lot, and said well, I know the tires are worn but it’s snow-tire season in two months and I was not planning on replacing my current tires until then. The nice young desk clerk AND the mechanic both rounded on me in horror, telling me that I’m damn lucky I haven’t had a blowout yet; that I must be hydroplaning every time it rains; that they notice I have carseats in the van and surely I wouldn’t want to endanger my children. It’s all very annoying.
I looked at the estimate and noted that the tires quoted are over $200 each. Plus installation and balancing, which puts them at closer to $300 each and WTF, people, I’m not using the minivan for NASCAR. I ask if there are less expensive tires available. They try to talk me out of it, which infuriates me further, because really? I keep saying I need to get my van and go because the baby is at home and overdue for a feeding, which only I can provide, and finally in desperation I play the poor-little-wifey card and say I really can’t make any decisions without talking it over with my husband.
(I eventually got him to agree to do up another estimate with some alternative, less-costly tires. “But you probably won’t get a tread-wear warranty!” he gasped in horror. As it turned out, there is another tire with the same warranty as the Cadillac-tires for $40 less per tire. He acted surprised. Oh, and the bill for the visit was $76, because apparently headlight bulbs are made of crushed-up fairies or powdered unicorn horn. Or both.)
I bought all of Harry’s school supplies on Monday. Just the supplies this is, not the clothes or new lunch bag or indoor sneakers or mittens or snowsuits – which you need to buy in August because all the good ones are sold out by September, can I get a Hallelujah – or the $15 I need to send in for the other supplies that the teacher buys or the $10 for the stand-up against bullying t-shirt or the $25 for the milk program. I’m $100 in so far, which isn’t so bad, but I can’t help but notice that if I didn’t have to buy particular brand names or ridiculous quantities of things that I could have gotten away with spending much less. (Aside: Five boxes of pencils. But what size boxes?? Dilemma.)
We are invited to a wedding next weekend, which is nice, but the kids needed new outfits because we never go anywhere ‘nice’ and they had nothing to wear. And Michael has lost so much weight – which is awesome – that his pants were two sizes too big, and his shirts also, and by the time we got out of Old Navy money had become meaningless.
I tried putting a load of towels in the dryer last night because I love using the clothesline for everything else, but line-tried towels get all crunchy and scratchy, and I hate that. I shoved them in at 11pm and turned on the machine so it would run while the house is cooler. Got up at 3:30 to feed the baby and the dryer was still running, because it’s a moisture-sensing one and as the dryer was producing exactly no heat, the sensor told it that the clothes were still wet. Did I mention the warranty ran out in May? Because of course it did.
In October we have our annual water-system service, which is never less than $500 and usually closer to $700.
I’m pretty sure we need a new lawnmower.
In September Arthur comes back for before and after school care, which will add some more revenue to the mix. And then in October his baby sister starts full-time. So I’ll have much more revenue coming in, which is good. But I don’t think I can forgo what I’m getting for Luna, at least not right now. Keeping this in mind, I finally found my spine and reminded all of my clients that I *do* have a late fee and I *will* be charging it at my discretion. Luna’s mom has been much more timely this week as a result. In fact, Luna has been my superstar this week. (Aside # 2: One member of the Toddler Brigade is always in a state. Some times it’s Luna. The past couple of weeks has been Pixie’s turn. Man, can that girl yell.)
I wanted to try and pick up some writing work through Elance, and I started creating a profile, but then I couldn’t hold a thought in my head and never finished it. To wit: if I can’t even be intelligent enough to write a profile, I’m probably not going to be able to write articles on command. However, that was a few months ago and I’m feeling more with-it now, so I’m thinking it’s time to dust that off and get cracking on finding some work.