As quickly as there was good news, there was bad. Isn't that just how it is? In the past 8 years, these things don't get to me as much as they did, but it's still there.
I realized this weekend that I could pay off the largest of my summer child care bill now and be done with it. Not have to work it into the budget for the next two months, but just pay it. It meant taking it out of savings (i.e., tax refund), but it was still a huge relief to get that paid. And then I realized, after this month, I'm done paying for after-school care forever, quite possibly! The girls finish school at the end of May, Riley's new school provides after-school care through a grant, and Sylvia will be in high school with a longer school day.
I'm almost done paying for child care!! Freaking huge, right? Well, it is to me.
Then Monday, I took my car in for its due maintenance. I'd suspected I was going to need new rear brakes, and I was concerned about my tires. Sure enough, I needed two new ones. And just like that, my maintenance cost nearly $500. (Which I may have suspected, but those suspicions didn't come with bonus money to pay for them.) And then, my mechanic told me to be prepared next time; it will be the 120k mile service, and it will be around $300.
Great. That's just freaking GREAT!
It's still cheaper than a car payment for sure, and I want to keep this car as long as it will possibly last. And you better believe, I will. But there it goes...back on the credit card.
I've been SO good about the credit cards! One of them, I haven't used in at least 6 months, the other one I haven't used this year. For me? That's awesome.
So I was feeling a little down about that, and a little down about finances in general. And then someone reminded me of something: I'm still not getting child support. I can pretty much guarantee that I will never see child support, and I'm still doing it. I'm still taking care of the girls, providing more than just the minimum, and we still enjoy our lives.
I may get mad from time to time about the fact that I don't receive child support, but since I've never counted on it, it's been a long time since I've considered the fiscal impact it has on us. It could be a clothing allowance, it could pay for celebratory meals out, it could cover a car payment. It could upgrade us to a 3-bedroom (because the thought of us all PMSing at the same time has dawned on me - and we will need our own space!), it could simply go into a savings account to provide for their college expenses down the line.
I forget that sometimes. Sometimes, I choose to forget because it just makes me angry. Sometimes it makes me sad. Or wistful.
But today, it just makes me proud that I know we will continue to thrive without it.
Mandy got more than she bargained for when she asked us single parents for our financial questions, and I emailed her about my frustration with financial advice that assumes we buy a latte every day or get our nails done once a month. I appreciated that she gave me validation for the reality that sometimes, it does take a credit card to get the job done. And it's not totally against Suze Orman's advice either: people first.
So I'm going to let myself off the hook for breaking out the credit card for this non-budgeted, yet totally necessary, expense. And I am going to let myself be proud of the fact that the girls and I still have a way to get around town and live our lives.