My toilet training days – camping and on the potty
MT = Math Teacher
DH = Dear Husband
Wise when it comes to other people’s impatience . . .
For the first half of the year, my monthly take-home income goes down because of automatic deductions for the Canada Pension Plan. It’s a good thing that will serve us well in the future, but nobody looks at that first pay of the year and thinks, Great! I’m paying into my CPP! It’s more like Ugh!
I was talking with a colleague – a math teacher (MT from a previous post) – who is trying to pay off his debts (“because of you,” he told me), and he expressed real frustration about that lower take-home pay. “I was on a roll,” he said. “I just feel derailed.” I had all kinds of words of wisdom for him: Debt repayment isn’t a steady thing. There are high expense months and windfall months even with a regular income. We need to expect the lower pay and accommodate for it, and then use the extra income in the last half of the year to full advantage.
“Yeah,” he said, looking at the floor. “I know.”
This guy is a bright light in our school. A professional engineer, he left a higher-paying career to work with teens, and we’re all so glad he did. Yet he feels caught off guard by a drop in income that comes every year. Finds himself fighting off that “I give up!” frustration.
. . . but not so wise with my own impatience
I don’t know about you, but I can relate. I say it without disrespect: There is something childish about a debtor’s impatience. Especially when we’re on board, making efforts to do the right thing, we find it SO frustrating when STILL we run into roadblocks that keep us indebted. I had perspective on MT’s discouragement. But I don’t have much on mine.
Great expectations for December
Through December, as DH took in more business than he ever has, I found myself looking forward to writing that post at the end of the month in which I’d announce how much we had paid off the business debt. Maybe it will be $10,000, I thought. Or pretty close. Maybe $8,000 or $9,000. Or more! Maybe $11,000 – our highest repayment in a single month. I set my sights high, with DH’s gross revenue warranting my hope. But in December, DH was finalizing his corporate taxes for 2014, and he paid up according to what his accountant had advised in the mad panic end-of-year rush. And that left a little over $5,000 to put against the debt.
“What are you complaining about?” you might ask. “I know,” I might answer, looking at the floor. $5,000 is a great amount, and it brought us below the $20,000 mark in our business debt repayment. That beast was at $80,800 when we started our journey out of debt, and look at it now: $18,000. But my expectations – backed up by reason – had been so much higher. Taxes!
High hopes for January
“I overpaid my taxes,” DH told me at the end of December. “My accountant found a way to lower them, but I’d already paid. I’ll get reimbursed.” Ha! Good news! I’d hold off on my post about our December payment. I’d wait until that reimbursement came in and we had a solid January payment to make. I imagined what I’d write at the end of January: “Two Big Slices out of Debt #3” / “We’re down to $13,000!” But that’s not what I’m writing. Despite the tax reimbursement, there are business expenses to cover, including travel next month. And extra household expenses to fund. (More on that later). “I’ll try to put something down. Maybe $500,” DH told me yesterday.
My inner-toddler is kicking. I’m not proud of my impatient frustration. It’s childish. I know the words of wise perspective that I would give to someone like me: You have an irregular income and irregular business expenses. Best not to put too much energy into big expectations. There will be high expense months along with windfall months. Take ownership of what you can control and leave the rest. Besides, you’re doing well in your debt-repayment. Just keep on keeping on.
Yeah, I know.
“It’s time to put on your big girl panties!”
I have a colleague who is starting her teaching career after years of amazing work experience – including acting and scuba diving instruction. She is unfailingly funny, in a straight-faced deadpan kind of way, and I can just hear her voice telling me, “It’s time to put on your big girl panties!” And I will. Aren’t I supposed to be a grown-up?
So with big girl panties on, I hereby give my end-of-January report: In December, thanks to DH’s high business volume over the Christmas rush, we took a big slice out of Debt #3 – $5,000. January has turned out to be a month of both high business and household expenses, so our repayment was much smaller – at $500. Our business debt – $80,800 in December of 2012 – is now down to $17,500. It’s lower than Debt #1 and Debt #2 – our now paid-off consumer debts – combined. We’re on our way.
There. How’s that? Have you ever found yourself in the humbling position of recognizing a childish impatience in yourself? Does your inner-toddler rage on occasion? Do you need to put on your big girl panties / big boy pants?
Comments are welcome. They’re working again!