Monday, January 18, 2010

Broke as Heck.

A couple of weeks ago, Swistle, whom I love like Diet Wild Cherry
Pepsi (aka LOADS), came out as plus size. There was much controversy, many people cheering her own. Of course, there were a few haters, but it seemed to me that there was overwhelming support. Score one for the big girls!

It has inspired me to honesty. I am quite open about being a bona fide Big Girl, so obviously that is not what I keep hidden. Quite possibly every who has ever come across this blog has been bombarded with me babbling on about being zaftig. The thing I tend to sweep under the rug is the dismal state of my finances.

Part of what drove us from Alaska was the recession. We left before it hit hard, but barely. Jason's job was being eliminated shortly after we left, and the company I worked for was projected to do a fraction of the work it had the year before. We never lived the high life in Anchorage, but if we were comfy. We went to the theatre when we liked; we ate in hipster-yuppie restaurants on a whim, whenever we felt the need for some stuffed french toast or salmon eggs benedict. And the COFFEE. Oh, the coffee. Toasted marshmallow lattes, and triple shot soy iced kaladi's, and chocolate croissant on the side, and a raspberry Italian soda for Violet. Locally roasted specialty beans to grind ourselves for use at home. We easily spent $40 a week on coffee.

I now spend about that on groceries.

Jason has a good job. Just not a well paying job. I stay at home with my girls and pick up tutoring jobs. The cost of day care would well outweigh what I could make on the salary offered to someone who has one year towards a theatre degree under their belts. We are stuck in the vicious cycle of hand-to-mouth, working hard with little reward, and yes, even a little government assistance thrown in.

We live highly budget conscious. True, I have the internet; however, it is a requirement to pick up tutoring jobs with private school kids. Yes, we make lovely, wonderful food - with cheap groceries from discount stores and a lot of help from Food Christmas was only possible with careful saving. Even at that, we spent less than $300 in total for presents this year, including extended family.

I grew up poor. Backroads Kentucky, Aldi shopping, missionary barrel poor. My mother made it work; no one would know the lack of finances, no one would realize how below the poverty line we were. She had the touch. She makes everything special.

I don't have the touch. I do better than some, but I fall well below Ma. Jason and I want to do better. We want possibilities for our girls. We want comfort and luxuries and place firmly in the middle class. Which is why we are going back to school.

Which is going to make us even poorer for a while. We have to save the money to get to school, then the money to stay there. We will make it work, because we are that kind of people: we are survivors, strong-willed and ambitious. Eventually, Jason will have his doctorate. I will have my master's.

But in the meantime, there will be a lot of beans, a lot of thrift stores, a lot of making do. And I hope, in the interim, I am teaching my girls something much better, much more important than how to live in the middle class. I hope I am showing them how to achieve their dreams, how to handle obstacles with elan and grace. How to not give up.

Even with a belly full of beans and ratty Salvation Army cardigan.


Jennie said...

It'll be beyond worth it. I know how hard it is, how frustrating it can be to not afford things you just downright deserve, but good for you for doing what you need to do in order to have a better life.

Anonymous said...


So glad to have found your blog- and I can totally relate to the budget-conscious lifestyle. I will be going back to school (hopefully) in the fall with lots of gov't assistance and much sacrifice, as well as daycare for the baby and added responsibility from my four older children. But I must complete my degree! How i wish I had done this years ago...


Jill said...

I love you Rebecca! AND I have all the confidence in the world that you are going to come out just fine.