Finding the Silver Lining When Faced with Unexpected Expenses

7bc227df6ab84e9b959992039cf8a990A casual acquaintance of mine, I’ll call her Emily, recently posted on Facebook that she and her husband are looking at buying a new 12 passenger van, so she was soliciting input about the different kinds available.

I don’t like to admit this because she’s the sweetest woman I know, but a part of me was envious.  Jealous, even.

Not because I want a 12-passenger van because I don’t, but because I would love to be in a place financially where affording a new vehicle was an option.

As I went to hang up our laundry to dry in the spare room, I kept ruminating.  Emily is pregnant with her 7th child.  She homeschools her kids and has a mother’s helper come in once a week to help with her responsibilities and to tutor her kids.  Her kids take dance and piano lessons.  Now the family is buying a large passenger van.

How much does her husband make?

Then, my thoughts wandered to our own financial situation.  I make about 20% of our annual salary; my husband makes the rest.  We make above the median income.  We do a host of frugal activities:

  • We go out to eat less than 8 times a year.
  • We cook all of our meals at home.
  • We have a grocery budget of $125 a week.
  • I make our own homemade laundry detergent.
  • I hang up the laundry to dry rather than running the dryer.
  • We have one vehicle that is paid for and has 150,000 miles on it.
  • My husband takes the bus to work.
  • We buy used and clearance clothes.
  • We have cheap cell phones that we buy pay-as-you go minutes for.
  • We only use the cell phones for emergencies.
  • We keep the heat at 63 degrees in the winter.
  • We keep the air at 80 degrees during the day and 83 degrees at night during the summer.
  • We have one small television in the living room.
  • We find free activities to do as a family.
  • Our kids get their books and movies from the library (though we do have a Netflix subscription).

We’re doing what we can to keep our overhead low.

Yet, why then, are we struggling financially as we are?

I was done hanging up laundry by that time, but the question nagged me.

What are we doing wrong?

I mentally went through all that we spend.

Then, it hit me.

Medical bills.

So, one night I sat down and did a tally.

$2,791.10

That’s how much we’ve spent on medical bills (mostly dental including a root canal, a crown, and phase one of Bookworm’s braces) since January, 2015.

Three months.  $2,791.10

No wonder money feels so tight.  It IS tight.

But, here’s the wonderful, silver lining, news.

We’ve paid all of those medical bills out of pocket, without.going.in.debt!!

We’ve tightened, and tightened, and tightened.  Sometimes I wonder how much more we can tighten up the budget (though I know there is always a way.)

But it’s paid off.

We’ve learned our lesson as we’ve dug our way out of debt these last several years.

We faced a mountain of medical bills in the last three months, but we were able to pay them out of pocket.

I don’t know what my friend’s husband does for a living.  I’m happy now that they’re doing well.

And I’m also happy to learn where all of our money is going.  We’re not doing something wrong financially.  We’ve just been hit with a barrage of medical bills, and we’re handling it.

That is a great feeling!

How do you respond to financial setbacks and unexpected expenses?  Do you try to find the silver lining?

Menu Planning for March 29, 2015

Every time I try to go without a menu plan it’s a disaster.  Not because we blow our budget and go out to eat but because we’re scrambling at the last minute to make a meal.  You’d think I’d learn my lesson by now, but nope, every few months I abandon menu planning only to see chaos erupt.

Here’s the plan for this week:

Sunday

Lunch–Sauteed cabbage and polish sausage, rice
Dinner–Fish and chips, broccoli

Monday

Lunch–leftover soup
Dinner–Iranian Kebob

Tuesday

Lunch–Eggplant patties, carrot sticks, rice
Dinner–Cabbage and Beef Casserole

Wednesday

Lunch–leftovers
Dinner–Pumpkin Chili

Thursday

Lunch–is it bad if I put no idea?  Honestly, right now I have no idea!
Dinner–Old Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

Friday

Lunch–Tuna Noodle Casserole
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Dinner–Cabbage Soup

I’m not sure yet what we’ll have for the weekend, but I know for Easter we’re planning on having ham, Japanese potato salad, and a tomato and cucumber salad.  It’s not quite a traditional Easter meal, but since we’re far from family this holiday, we plan to keep it simple!

For more menu planning ideas, visit Menu Planning Monday and Gluten Free Menu Swap.

TOS Crew Review: Thick as Thieves a Circle C Milestones Book

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Bookworm is a huge history buff, and he loves learning about horses.  This combination of interests made reviewing Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow a perfect fit for his literature curriculum for a month.  Even better, the book, part of the Circle … [Continue reading]

TOS Crew Review: Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office

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Do you long for more order in your homeschool?  Would you like one program where you could keep an assignment calendar for each of your kids, keep track of personal appointments and responsibilities, keep your children's grades AND produce … [Continue reading]

How I Feed My Family of 5 for $6,500 a Year–Week 11 (March 13 – March 19, 2015)

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Our pork share is now completely paid for except the $20 I have to pay upon pick up. We're waiting on it.  Hopefully it will come soon because our freezer is looking mighty bare! This year, I'm aiming to spend $6,500 total for food for my family. … [Continue reading]

How We’re Paying Cash for Phase One of Our Son’s Braces

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So, Bookworm needs braces.  We've known this day would come, but we kind of buried our head in the sand and ignored it. However, now that he is almost 11, the time is here.  Yikes! We saw an orthodontist at the beginning of February who … [Continue reading]

Our Homeschool Week Review – March 19, 2015

So much for my wish to be done with dental appointments.  I had to go see the dentist again to try to figure out what the red spot on my gum is since having the root canal improved, but did not heal, the red spot.  This time, the dentist found a chip … [Continue reading]

TOS Crew Review: GPALOVEMATH

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Do you have a child who prefers online-based learning?  Is your child interested in all things tech related?  If so, you may be interested in learning more about GPALOVEMATH by GPA LEARN. About GPALOVEMATH GPALOVEMATH by GPA LEARN is an online math … [Continue reading]

How I Feed My Family of 5 for $6,500 a Year–Week 10 (March 6 – March 12, 2015)

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Our pork share is now completely paid for except the $20 I have to pay upon pick up.  It was delayed by a few weeks, but hopefully we should get it any day now.   I wanted to place an order with Azure Standard this month, but thanks to paying for … [Continue reading]

Our Trip to the Tucson Festival of Books

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Much to my English major delight, Bookworm is, well, a total book worm.  He loves reading and has since he was just a small baby.  He loved being read to (and still does, which we do quite frequently thanks to Sonlight), and he loves to read.  It’s … [Continue reading]