Month after month, it goes like this:
1. Look at your a budget.
2. Quickly realize your income falls short of meeting your bottom line expenses (house, utilities, car, food, and medical) by at least $224 every month.
3. Half as quickly go back over budget looking for undiscovered opportunities to trim the bottom line. (You trimmed your health insurance off the bottom line months ago and there's no cost-saving way out of the mortgage your ex-husband "gave" you in the divorce.)
4. No such opportunities to be found.
5. Check email inbox for messages from potential employers.
6. Check web for new and relevant job postings.
7. Find none.
8. Stare blankly into space and hope that an amazing solution to your financial dilemma will suddenly appear... any minute... now!
9. Find no such solution -- suddenly or otherwise.
10. Notice that the kitchen is a mess and decide to set budget aside in favor of clean dishes and counter tops.
11. As you clean, tell yourself that it will all work out somehow this month.
12. Finish the dishes, check the clock, grab your keys, and head out to get the kids from school.
13. Pick up, drive home, make snacks, help with chores and homework, make dinner, clean up, read stories, tuck in, flop down, breathe big tired sighs.
14. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
15. Spread the bills out to buy time. Half the utilities now; wait and see how the rest of the month goes.
16. Say yes to every possible opportunity to make extra $$.
17. Smile and nod when well-meaning friends and acquaintances suggest you "go back to work." (This, by the way, is how they say it-- "go back to work." As if somewhere there is a job and paycheck that have been waiting patiently these past nine years for your return from motherhood.)
18. Spend six hours applying for food stamps only to discover that, while you meet the income eligibility requirements to receive benefits, your benefit amount is $0. (Thank you, Republican-sponsored cutbacks.)
19. Spend three hours taking online aptitude tests in preparation for upcoming job interview at a call center.
20. Push aside thoughts of how soul-sucking you imagine it will be to work in a call center.
21. Feel grateful that at least your student loans are paid off, and also resentful that your ex makes enough $$ to afford health insurance, heat and nice vacations in Mexico and the like with his girlfriend/fiance.
22. Feel grateful for friends who help whenever and however they can.
23. Feel anxious about the end of the month, your checking account balance and the future.
24. Decide to only think happy thoughts because, let's face it-- there isn't much else you can do about this budget crisis that you haven't already done.
25. Pick up your kids from school and treat them to hot cocoa and giggles.
26. Over the weekend, treat yourself to beers with friends and bury your head in the sand for a few more days.
27. Repeatedly check bank balance and revisit potential saving or earning opportunities.
28. Pile extra blankets on the beds and coats on the kids; turn off the heat.
29. Breakfast for dinner! Oatmeal.
30. Check the mail to see if child and spousal support has arrived.
31. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Can you relate?
Image Credit: emdot via Flickr