Debt Reduction And Deep Cleaning

DH = Dear Husband


            It’s Saturday morning, and the sun is shining in a clear blue sky.  Spring is here.  Hallelujah!  We’ve had some teasers over the past couple of months.  A rogue warm day.  The promising appearance of birds (including, right on our lawn, to our utter shock, two huge wild turkeys).  The seemingly final melting of snow.  But then another temperature drop would be followed by another snow storm.  We’ve got the real deal in spades now, and it’s very, very welcome.

Spring car-cleaning

            As soon as the weather is warm enough, I’ll clean the inside of my car, I decided over a month ago.  The rubber pads and carpet of the Ford’s floor were covered in layers of dirt, pebbles, and street salt.  Crumbs from a variety of my daughters’ snacks were generously scattered across its seats.  Dust blanketed the dashboard.  A long winter had meant a long time between cleanings, but last week-end, I dealt with it all:  rubber mats sprayed down with the hose; carpets and seats vacuumed; dashboard wiped with a damp cloth.  Mission accomplished?  Partially.  The next day, the floor and seats looked fresh, but the dashboard looked worse.  So many layers of dust had settled upon it that my attempt at wet-rag-wiping merely added moisture to the filth, creating dust-mud – which had dried and hardened over into a formidable grime.  

Deep-cleaning our finances

            When things are a real mess, deep cleaning is required.  A token wipe didn’t do it for my dashboard last week-end, but a scrub brush, sudsy water, and elbow grease should do the trick today.  Early in March, DH and I realized that our finances were in a real mess when we didn’t have the money we thought we’d set aside to pay our property tax bill.  “We’ve been too busy since the Christmas rush with DH’s business,” I wrote at the time (See post “Debtors Anonymous (& Our Property Tax)”).  “Like the proverbial juggler with too many balls up in the air, we’ve been dropping them . . . and our money is in a sloppy state . . . We’ve budgeted a certain monthly amount to cover the big property tax bills, but because we haven’t kept adequate track of the other areas of the budget, they’ve bled into each other, and our tax money has gradually dissipated.” We paid the tax bill, but it meant we had nothing to put against our debt in March.
            The thing is, it wasn’t enough for us simply to realize that our finances were in a mess.  We neglected the deep cleaning required, and at the end of April, we were once again surprised by our money situation.  “We’re over three thousand dollars out of balance,” DH said incredulously after we had carefully entered all remaining receipts from the previous week.  Last Saturday afternoon and evening, it was all about straightening out our financial house.  Besides doing our income tax, we went through our income and expenditures for April in painstaking detail.  Our detective work brought us back a few months more, and it took some serious time, but we did it.  We found the roots of the problem, and our account is in balance once again.  For the second month in a row, we had nothing to put against our debt, but the deep cleaning has been done, all is in order and accounted for, and we’re looking ahead.
            Things look favourable for May.  I receive three paycheques (as opposed to two) two months every year, and May is one of them.  We have surprisingly large income tax refunds coming our way.  I was slow in submitting substantial claims to my insurance, but I’ve done it, and a hefty reimbursement should be forthcoming.  Our street holds an annual garage sale each May, and this year, I plan to take part.  DH’s business, which was off-the-chart slow in April (after months of being off-the-chart busy) is already proving to be picking up in these first few days of May.  There will be significant expenses this month, but I’m confident that we’ll have a healthy amount to put against our debt by the end of May.  Just as I’m confident that my dashboard will be pristine by the end of today.

Comments are welcome!

I would love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to share your thoughts, offer advice, disagree, or ask questions. (Disrespectful comments will be deleted.)

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I also deep cleaned my car and am so much happier in it now. The grottiness was getting me down on some level. We need to take care of the structures that ferry us through life. As you so clearly state this includes our financial structures.
    We also need to take time to re-energize by enjoying social, intellectual, spiritual and activity based pursuits that make us ok with takling on the necessaries of life. Enjoyed your article! SS

  • You are so right about needing to “take time to re-energize by enjoying” life. I find it hard to strike a balance between the pursuit debt-freedom – with all of its discipline, self-control, and number crunching – and the pursuit of sheer enjoyment, which for me very often involves spending. I’ve got a long way to go in terms of debt reduction, so perhaps I’ll find that balance eventually.
    I’m glad you’re enjoying your clean car, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

  • I wonder why I too am so disinterested in managing money? I had good role models – my mom – and I teach math (though it’s not my favourite). Still, there was a time when balancing and playing with numbers was fun and ‘getting the answer’ at the end was great motivation. I am the stereotypical female who would be lost in our finances without my husband who looks after all of it. I tell myself I could do it if I needed to – that I’m too busy but the real reason is that I’d rather shove bamboo under my finger nails or even wash dishes! I’m going to think on this one some more. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • I love your honesty! And I understand your aversion to mucking about in household finances. There is definitely the stereotype of the female who knows nothing about money, but studies indicate that in reality, household finances are as likely to be managed by the wife as by the husband. In your case, I’m especially surprised by your distaste for money matters given your mathematical prowess. When I overcame my own distaste and got involved in the details of our money management, there was much greater harmony both in our finances and our relationship. Why don’t you give it a shot too? My guess is that you’ll find it much easier to deal with than bamboo shoots under your finger nails : )

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