How Low Could you Go?

I know, I know…you are probably tired of hearing me talk about money. Well considering it’s the season when most of us lose our heads in the quest to give the best gifts we can (or cannot) afford I figure you can never talk enough about money.

I have been reading this blog almost since it’s inception, I think I mentioned here once before. Basically it’s about a family that lives off $1000 a month! Yes, you read that correctly a thousand dollars a month. Long story short, it’s a married couple with 3 small kids, they live here in Maine and actually seem to do ok. Ok at least as defined by the blogger.

I must admit that while I strive to reduce debt and be frugal that there is no way I could live off that little, hell I couldn’t do it as a single Mama almost 17 years ago. That said, while there are a lot of choices this family makes that I couldn’t see doing personally, I have to admire their desire to live within their means…even when they don’t have much.

This weekend, while I was happy to have solved the car problem without going into debt, I must admit I was having a bit of a pity party. See, I busted my ass to get my bonus from work. If you read this and you know me personally, you know the work I do and at times how grueling it is. I love it but at the same time it leaves me drained. This organization has never given the director a bonus…so you know a sista was grinding away to get that extra cheddar. (translation, I worked hard as hell to convince them to give me a bonus).  Now I had not planned anything specific other than to visit family with that cash, I had planned on there being some cash left over for Mama to have some fun. Fun? Oh yeah, simple shit I no longer do like getting nails done and actually a trip to get my hair done since the fro has gone crazy. Well all that is history at this point thanks to the car situation.

Now I know I should be grateful that we were able to resolve the car problem yet human nature being what it is, I was feeling pissy yesterday and realized what a hypocrite I can be at times. Hell, I was just telling my sibling the other day you have to focus on what you have and not what others have….great advice, even better if I were to heed it myself. Truthfully I do a great deal of the time, but this weekend was not one of those times.

This morning though as I made the rounds to blogs I read while I feed my coffee habit, I was once again struck with how some folks are seemingly able to make do on so little and appear to be content. So I wondered again, what would it take for me to be one of those folks? I don’t have the answer yet but I am thinking about it and when I figure it out I will be sure to share, in the mean time I ask you, could you live on a thousand bucks a month and be content? If so, why? If not, why?

Best plans tossed aside by Murphy

I am in full vent mode today, so if I sound crazy it’s because my plans have been tossed aside by that bitch named Murphy. Regular readers know I am struggling to reduce my debt and live a more frugal life. It’s been going fairly well despite falling off the no Starbucks wagon. It’s those damn Peppermint Mochas that come out only in winter, they are so good and work is so stressful and well after work I like to unwind with a hot beverage. Yeah, I can make a Chai at home but damn those Peppermint Mochas are great. Thankfully I have been keeping to the budget in every other way so I am trying not to feel too guilty.

Well December in addition to being Christmas which we celebrate and generally requires me to spend some cash, it’s also car inspection time for us. What that means is we take the car to the mechanic and he determines whether or not we get the state required sticker that legally allows us to drive our car. Now being the good planner I strive to be these days, I had planned for this event using last year’s repair costs as the gauge for how much cash to save for this blessed little event. Turns out I got it wrong….very very wrong.

To repair our 12-year-old car and keep her on the road legally is going to cost a minimum of almost $1300 and I say minimum because there is one repair that Mechanic Man says he can’t give us the price on until he starts doing the work. Um….to say I was stunned and pissed is an understatement. Now we bought ole Bessie from a friend several years ago after our other car died after a very long stint with us. When we bought this car, it was a good alternative to going into debt since we had gone that route before and frankly I have decided I hate car payments. Getting a car on a 5 year loan seems like a great idea but for us it sucked. Problem is the cash car has been a bit of a money pit and now I am trying to plan our next steps.

Part of me wants to just pay the cash and fix ole Bessie but not having an exact price makes me very skittish, there is also the fact this car is as comfortable as a Cracker Jack box and is really too small for our family. On the other hand, I only have about 2G’s to buy a car in cash and at the moment, I am not running across a great deal of selection since thanks to the lovely Cash for Clunkers program, a lot of really decent used cars got taken out of circulation. So whereas at the beginning of the year I saw some decent cars for a couple grand, now that is not the case. Which leaves option three, go to a dealer and get a car and a car payment. Now as a member of the less than stellar credit club that means I will get a shitty deal as far as financing and as a member of the get the fuck out of debt club that pains me.

Problem is I live in Maine, a place with not a great deal of options when it comes to getting around sans a car. It’s possible but not really. I mean this ain’t NYC, Boston or Chicago. Plus I have a job, so as you can see I have a problem. The only upside is I have until the end of the month to solve it so I have time to explore my options but really barring a fabulous used car made in this decade, that is available for 2G’s, my options are not great.

So trusty reader, I ask you, what would you do in this situation? Do you take a chance and keep ole Bessie and sink a ton of cash into a 12 yo old car or do you decide enough is enough. Is this a good case for incurring some debt for a ride? Decisions….