Monday, September 29, 2008

enough ...

For about the last month, my garage door opener had been making a straining noise as it got to the top when it opened. The problem escalated to the point where last week, it took much longer than normal for the door to raise all the way up, like the motor was having to work extra hard ... just ... to ... get ... the ... door ....umph! ... up. I don't know how to fix stuff like this, but I do know how to dial so I called the repairman, who checked it out yesterday morning and said I needed new springs (with lifetime guarantee), new cable, etc. Total bill: $618. Ouch!

But as I wrote out the check, I found my heart was filled with gratitude. You see, I made a realization yesterday: I had enough money. I had to let that sink in. I could pay a $618 bill with money that I had in my bank account. Even after paying for new stairs last month (for which I'd saved for a few years), I had enough.

This was huge, really huge. And I'm so grateful to be at this point in my life. As a single parent with an ex who didn't pay his child support, times were very, very tough while my daughter was growing up. I paid cash for everything; no cash = no purchase. Over time, things got better, and I finally bought my small 1225 square foot townhome 10 years ago after my daughter had left home to begin her adult life as a wife and mother.

But I still had to stick to a budget, there wasn't enough for extras, clothes shopping was a rare event, no money for "real" jewelry, and I was very frugal with every purchase. I now had a mortgage to pay. My family sometimes jokes that I don't replace things until they're broken or worn out. I'm not a wasteful person; I wring every bit of value that I can from an item before I'll replace it. I don't buy what I don't need. Last year, I went without a DVD player for 8 months after mine broke until my daughter gave me a new one as a Mother's Day gift.

I've been working a lot so I've only vaguely been aware of the upheaval in the financial markets. I always thought I should learn something about investing, so I could better manage my 401K investments. But I never had the time, interest or inclination. Plus, it feels like betting and I'm not a risk-taker when it comes to my hard-earned money. It seems like so many of the financial vehicles (credit default swaps, anyone?) are like trading air: creative made-up bets and gambles.

Despite my ignorance about stock, bonds, investments - and despite two layoffs in the last 7 years - I've managed to get myself into a decent place financially. What a sense of peace and relief that is! I have a couple of 401Ks, an IRA, money in my regular bank savings account and money in a online account that pays a bit more. Nothing fancy, no big returns, but also low risk. My mortgage will be paid off before I retire. I won't get rich this way, but I'm also less likely to be wiped out financially. Probably not a very smart investment strategy, but it's one I'm comfortable with.

As I wrote that check for the garage door repair, I found myself abundantly grateful. I've gone through some challenging times. But I have a job that pays a decent salary, I have no debt, few needs. There are many Americans who are going through their own challenging times and experiencing their own financial struggles as a result of the current economy. I lift them all in prayer and pray that some day, they'll find themselves with a grateful heart when they realize that they've come through the worst of it and they can write a check, knowing the money's in the bank. Having enough is a pretty great thing.



paintergal said...

That is huge! And such a sense of relief. When we sold our house we were able to pay off a lot of credit card debt and it was wonderful!

Amber said...

Wonderful post, Rose. And central to what you're saying is that so much of what you've accomplished, you've done by choice and hard work. You've chosen to live authentically and you are reaping the well-deserved rewards!

Kat said...

Rose you are in a wonderful position. Having enough and being content with what you have is a blessing.
Im glad you were able to get your garage door fixed before it that spring snapped.

Tricia said...

/that was so thoughtful of you to think of others in a terrible situation right now. I too am single and blessed.