Then and Now, and maybe Later

You all know by now how the Clan is trying to make this the year that we turn our finances around: pay off bills, spend wiser, save more. I thought of something today that made me even happier that I’m depriving myself and my family of two large pan pizzas from Pizza Hut every Friday night.

Let me take you back, oh, 10 years. In 1997 Sara and I were living in Athens, GA. I was going to school full time, we were renting an apartment and we both worked 40 hours a week. For the record, I’m still not sure how I managed to work full time and have a full class schedule, because much like a traumatic physical event (like a car crash) my brain refuses to allow me to remember it all. I do remember this much – I did do it, and still had time for a marriage. So anyone who claims it can’t be done can suck it.

At the time we were renting a 2 bed, 2 bath apartment in a complex (The Parthenon. East Siiiide!) for $600 a month. I can remember routinely paying only $1 a gallon for gas, and I was getting paid more than a Wal-Mart employee of my tenure should have been thanks to a friend and one-time supervisor, Doug. We weren’t saddled with the debt we’re currently trying to get out from under; instead, we were just beginning to saddle ourselves with it) We didn’t have much, but we still paid our bills and had a little extra to have fun with.

Now today. As of my latest review (which went very well, thank you) my pay has increased just a bit more than 100% in 10 years. Not bad. Heh. Maybe. Today I pay a $1000 mortgage on a 2 bed, one bath house that I believe is actually smaller than the apartment we used to rent in Athens. Right there’s a 66% increase in expenses (and 50% decrease in available toilets). Did I mention we’ve had 2 kids? So, yeah. That 100% population increase makes the 50% toilet decrease an even bigger issue. Gasoline? This weekend it hit $3.20 a gallon. That’s a 220% increase. In just the last 10 years.

Ten years is a long time you say? How about 5 years? In December 2001, just after we moved into your current digs, we paid 99 cents a gallon for home heating oil. One year and two months later we paid… 99 cents a gallon for home heating oil. This week, we paid off our outstanding balance on our winter oil bill so that we could get a refill. More correctly, we shelled out $450 for the privilege of being billed for another $1050. Joy. It didn’t end up being that much – we used far less oil since January than I’d feared. But what we did have delivered we paid 3.89 a gallon for. A 289% increase in just 5 years.

By all measurements, we could be fighting for our place on the median strip by the Home Depot with a sign detailing our misfortune and asking for your spare change. My sign would be awesome and you would totally want to give me change, but you wouldn’t because you’d need it to heat five minutes of water to do dishes or to buy gas to make it down your driveway.

We’ll survive, but not by luck, or because Dubya is giving us a $1600 rebate that I know (I KNOW) is going to count as income on next year’s taxes. No, we’ll survive because we’re smart, and we’ll be as ready for what’s coming as we can be. If we have to, we’ll take another 100% toilet decrease.

I’ll compost that shit.



One response to “Then and Now, and maybe Later

  1. Scary. It gives me chills and keeps me awake at night to think about our economy and the direction it’s headed. Why aren’t people raising more of a stink over this? Are we really ALL content to slave while the rich get richer? My husband works 13-15 hour days and our family helps us pay for clothing and school and, still, we are struggling! YIKES…A 280% increase. Somethings gotta give…

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