Saturday, March 31, 2007

Paying Bills

Paying bills. For most of our marriage, those two words struck dread in my heart. It always seemed that there wasn't enough money to cover our expenses, and I was always juggling things just to pay the minimum on our many charge accounts and loans. We made the decision early on that Terry would work, and I would stay home to be the mother and housekeeper, which is just what I wanted to do. However, I guess we didn't curtail our spending to match the reduction in income. I managed the bills, and when Terry wanted to buy something, I didn't argue about it. Whenever I said we couldn't afford something, he would fret and worry and moan about not making enough money to support his family, and it was not something I enjoyed hearing, so I just sucked it up and did the worrying myself. Of course, I was not blameless in all this. I loved buying stuff for the kids, and the store credit cards would build up. Terry remained blissfully unaware of our finances most of the time, but once in a while, he would figure out that we were spending more than we were making, and he would get the brilliant idea to consolidate all our credit card payments and then not use the cards. Great idea! The problem was that we continued to use the cards, and then we had not only credit card payments, but a consolidation payment, too! I spent many a sleepless night worrying about how we were going to pay all of our bills, but I found that somehow, just when we needed it most, we got some unexpected income and things were fine. Finally, I started working when Doug was 4, and things eased up a little. I was only working part time, so we still had lots of bills. And we were remodeling our very old house almost all the time. We did this on the cheap, and now you can tell it, but it still cost money we really didn't have to spend. Things didn't seem to get a whole lot better until the 90's, when I started teaching full-time again. We finally had breathing room, but even then, we had teenagers and their expenses to cover.

Now the kids are grown and gone, and Terry retired over 8 years ago. I worried then, but we seemed to have all the money we needed to pay the bills. I worried again when I retired almost 2 years ago, but again, it seems that we have plenty of income and lots fewer bills. While it's not exactly a pleasure to sit down and pay bills these days, like I just finished doing, it's certainly not the dread-inducing experience it once was. I am grateful that we have retirement savings and income. We can afford to do most anything we want and also help the kids when they need it, just like my parents helped us several times when we were young. I don't know why we have been so blessed, but I am not going to argue about it! Life is good....


Alissa said...

Well, since you have a little money now, wanna buy a car? I'll cut you a deal--$20 off for the hole in the bumper :-)

This is a little concerning--I was hoping that by the time the boys were grown I wouldn't be worrying so much about money. Hmmm.

Susie said...

Your timing is quite ironic! I was just sitting here paying bills, bills and more bills and decided to take a break.
We took such a huge cut in pay when we both retired that it was a whole new learning curve. Now eleven yrs later, it feels like it was the right decision. As long as we've got enough to pay the bills (and we do) that's all that matters..