9:30p.m. Thursday evening.
Four fans are running, creating a hum so loud I can't hear myself think, and doing very little to cool the stifling room.
It is 90 degrees INSIDE my house.
I'm nursing the baby and we're both drenched in sweat.
Two of my children are sick and miserable with chickenpox. They are tossing and turning on the small mattress we've set in front of the window for them to sleep on. They are miserable from the heat and the itch. My whole family is sad, tired, and uncomfortable.
Chris and I are being short with each other. The AC is broken, our “Emergency Fund” isn't enough money cover the cost of the repairs and we both know that we are just one more disaster away from the breaking point. We feel like inadequate parents. We feel like our kids are paying the price for our financial shortcomings. It would really easy to point fingers and place blame, and in fact that is what we started to do.
Instead, we reached the turning point.
Watching our children be miserable and not being able to do anything to make them more comfortable is unacceptable.
But there is even more to it than that.
Yes, we've been working really hard and yes, things could be a lot worse. But, things could also be so much better. In many ways we're working and making sacrifices and going through all the right financial motions but our situation isn't changing. We're just treading water. Yes, we aren't drowning but at this rate we're not going to make it to shore anytime soon either. To borrow a phrase from Dave Ramsey, we have not been attacking our debt and our financial sitaution with "gazelle intensity" by any means. We're been living on the edge so long we've gotten comfortable there.
To use another analogy: the fire has been allowed to go out, dwindled to embers, and now we need to fan the flames.
The fundamentals have been there (budgeting, cutting "extras" and working hard) - but they have been in the form of passionless to do lists and a budget we don't 100% commit to every month. Chris and I used to sit down once a week and go over the budget together. Life "got busy" and we stopped doing that. We told ourselves that what we have been doing up until now has been more than many others are doing and so we are just fine.
But, when it is 90 degrees inside your house, your children are miserable, and you and your spouse are feeling angry and defeated, it is very difficult to tell yourself that things are fine and you can keep just treading water like you are and that eventually, somehow, you'll get to your goals.
"Eventually" isn't good enough.
Now is the time to become intense.
(perhaps as intense as the heat inside my house last Thursday night?)