Since the beginning of the year our finances have been a bit tighter than usual. My husband made a decision to take a pay cut in order to better himself as a person. He was working way too much, grouchier than ever, and just not around physically or emotionally. While this pay cut dug into our budget deeply, we learned to adjust. I was absolutely miserable for awhile letting my selfish desires get in the way of my husband's need to slow down the pace a bit.
By the beginning of the year, his employer slowed things down a bit more by discontinuing employee overtime. From now on, nobody was to work any OT hours. This certainly wasn't the first time something like this has popped up. Michael was able to pull in some though, but not always. So we dealt with an even larger financial cut. The comes March.
March is when the major quake hit Japan, halting life as they knew it. The devastation was horrible; so many people lost, so many now gone. Businesses and towns gone. It is hard to comprehend when you live in the middle of the United States. With that came a halt in production at Toyota. Which means no production days at my husband's plant. While Michael has worked most days with exactly eight hours, some days there just wasn't anything to do. Zero overtime on top of less pay, on top of no production days...means, financially it has been HARD!
So how are we making it? Well, I will always say that we make it because God provides all of our needs. Everything we have needed has just been there. We have been living as frugally as I know how, and when I didn't know how, I researched to figure it out. We ate food that was filling, yet inexpensive. It wasn't always a big hit, but some really were!
The worst part about the last few months has been having to tell the kids "no" more than we like to do. We like to get out of the house and go places, and do things. But, for now, we can't. Or can we?
The most recent adventure we had was when we had to tell the children they couldn't go to HerrinFesta Italiana, as we do every year. Herrin Fest is a local celebration with food vendors, a midway, shows, etc. A typical small town carnival. Or as Hannah likes to say, "A festival." Bottom line was with arm bands being $18.00 and having five children, we couldn't afford to go. It hurt so bad to tell them that we weren't able to go. It hurt badly when people around them were able to go. So, as responsible parents, it was up to us to turn a horrible no into an exciting yes!
Instead of spending a ton of money at the carnival, we went fishing for the first time ever. We didn't catch anything except for weeds. BUT, we put some fishing poles that were just sitting around the house to good use. Yes, we bought everyone a fishing pole for an Easter present and then never went fishing! It was a ton of fun!! After we had enough of catching weeds, we decided to go geocaching! Geocaching is my new hobby. It doesn't cost a dime, besides gas. I know gas is pricey right now, but it isn't like you would be driving constantly. The way I looked at it, gas is still cheaper than taking my family to a carnival! We finished our day playing a board game around the kitchen table.
I can't tell you in words what a fabulous, adventure filled day we had...for probably $30.00. Gas and the cost of drinks at a gas station. That was it. Did my kids care about the carnival after the fun they had? Nope, they sure didn't. Not to mention it serves as a lesson to them that they don't have to spend a bunch of money that they don't have to have fun. I hope it is a lesson they will carry with them as they grow up.
So what are we planning that will be sure to excite them this summer? More fishing, geocaching, park days, camping out, and a trip to Holiday World...when we can afford it better. How are we doing that frugally? By finding other families that want to go to so we all can benefit from group pricing! = ) It is a savings of $100.00 minimum!
Anyway, it isn't fun to have to tell your kids no when you can't afford to do something that they had their heart set on doing. I am proud that we didn't cave in to the whining and complaining. Instead, use it as an opportunity for teaching your children the word "yes" to something that is tons of fun. That no hurts you more than it does the child...it is good for them to hear a no once in awhile, even when it is about something they REALLY want to do, or want in general. As an adult, they will thank you for it! = )