Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Interesting Conundrum

We're heading into the 6th week of my husband's unemployment, and it's been up and down.

We enjoyed our vacation and time off together quite a bit, but came home to the news that we may have to defer collecting unemployment. Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that allows the unemployed to collect benefits before burning through any severance, but that is only if the severance is classified correctly. In my husband's case, it may not have been, so we're waiting to hear if we need to wait until late October before seeing any unemployment checks.

I can't say it isn't stressful, even though we'd get through the time OK. It leaves a lot of things up in the air, and that's not pleasant. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

As we've reviewed our budget to see where else we can cut in the event that the news isn't good, I've come across a problem. There just isn't too many places we can cut.

Sure we have cable, and phones with data plans. Of course, eating out will be rare - a given. We can definitely eliminate other small dribbles of spending. Our June vacation was our last for a while.

Those are the simple things. But most of our spending has been on fixed expenses such as the house, or one-time larger investments such as a renovation project. And while some of those projects probably could have been delayed, the reality is that most of our projects have been of the necessary sort - new oil tanks, replacing the electrical panel, demoing a bathroom due to a water leak. It's just a fact of life in a lovely but old home. Believe me, spending money on dumpsters and wiring isn't enjoyable. I'd much prefer a new rug for the living room.

So even cutting back on those things, when and where we can, doesn't create a lot of leverage in our budget. We don't eat out much anyway, especially because a toddler dropping things on the floor and perpetually trying to escape her high chair doesn't make for a relaxing time. We haven't seen a movie in the theater in over a year. We don't do shows or concerts or sporting events. We get our DVDs from the library. We've never had a lot of interest in whooping it up, preferring to have a well-padded savings account, maxing our retirements, and truly enjoying hanging out at home.

The reality is that we'd almost have been in a better place if we blew a lot of money on meals out, shopping, trips to the casino and so on. Like I said, that's the easy stuff.

We're still in an okay place right now. But it's frustrating to do it all 'right' and still end up stressed and worried about the future.

The only upside of all this is that we have a lot of company.

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