The past year has been difficult. To be fair, I should say the past 18 months have been difficult. Losing a job near the end of the year is never easy as the fourth quarter is typically quiet on the employment front. Businesses prepare their budgets for the coming year and don’t often want to bring people in during the holiday season. This just serves to make the recently unemployed that much more stressed as they deal with dwindling finances and the regular stress over the holiday. If you add to this the stress of an employer fighting an unemployment claim, it can seem daunting. I should be clear from the start, I don’t feel these situations are unique to me; many Americans face these circumstances every year.
In December 2014, I was just starting to get my unemployment checks and the bank account had dwindled to the point that any payment might put me in overdraft. Knowing that unemployment might last a couple months or up to a year, I’d reached out to my mortgage lender and bank to address my concerns over losing my house and car. Interestingly, by reaching out beforehand, I may have hurt my situation. Both institutions knew my situation, but because I hadn’t been later than 30 days on any payment, they couldn’t initiate a hardship claim. All the while, I’d continued to apply for every job that was even remotely within my skill set and interview as frequently as possible. I also took a lot of walks. Walks, music, and playing Ultimate were my mental and physical stress relievers. They kept me sane and prevented obsessing over finances. Then January 2015 happened.
Before finally landing my current job that began February 2, 2015, I fell on my knee, twice, and all sorts of physical hell broke loose. These are things that I continue to battle even as I write this. Since that day in early February, more things have happened to me or my house that have continued to threaten that financial peace of mind. That’s life, right? What I wasn’t expecting, though, is this weird sense of pride. I’m not talking a 7 Deadly Sins level of pride, it’s more like a small measure – a thimble’s worth. It’s all come about in an unexpected way too.
Last July, I’d returned from my Internet breakup, only to be greeted by a nasty storm and my gutters falling off in the middle of the night. I could’ve lost sleep over it, but my immediate thought was to ignore it, roll over, and deal with it in the morning. This is a radical change from years past where I not only wouldn’t have gone back to sleep, but I probably would’ve had to take the next day off because I was so tired and still needed to address the issue. Anyway, after several days of shopping for gutters, I landed on my current ones and suffered a great deal of sticker shock (lifetime warranties don’t come cheap – over $4k). You may be thinking, “That’s why you feel proud? Lame.” Easy there, Kemosabe. I made my first payment in August, 2015 and I just made my last payment today. This was a four year loan and I am proud that I was able to pay it off in nine months. From December 2014 until now, I’ve forced myself to adhere to a budget with very few frivolities. That’s one great thing about walks, they’re virtually free.