Tuesday, 30 August 2016
Should I stay or should I go?
Today's post has been a long time coming. I'm writing it for various reasons; because I need to let it out, because I need to try and make sense of all the thoughts that are going round in my head and because I'm hoping that perhaps you, dear reader can help point me in the direction of the path I need to follow. I apologise if my ramble is long; whilst I can't divulge everything I would like to out of respect for the privacy of others, I think I can impart enough to enable you to understand my predicament. In a nutshell, I am currently teetering on the edge of making the biggest decision of my life.
Exactly three years and two months ago I became the proud and very nervous owner of Nawtypoo Cottage. I fell in love with our new home instantly and vowed I would never leave. Unfortunately this honeymoon period was shortlived and much as I still love my little house, these last three years have been pretty much a constant hell. There you go, I've said it now. I think my boys would agree too, that on the whole it's been bloody awful. I don't know whether I'm jinxed or something, sometimes I think I must just be a really bad person - but everything that can possibly go wrong these past three years has done so. Even so, I've hung in there, clinging on to my house month after month in the hope and belief that things will get better. The problem is, they haven't and I think after 38 months of taking two small steps forward and three giant ones back, I have finally come to the end of the road.
First I guess I should bring you up with the play on my current situation but I want to make one thing clear. I'm not doing this to look all 'woe is me' or because I want sympathy. Some things have been my fault but a lot of them, the biggest ones haven't. I'm doing it because I don't want people to think that living a frugal lifestyle doesn't work. I don't want people reading all the things I've been doing to save money and thinking 'hmph, well it's not done her any good, has it?' because it has. Without the knowledge and skills I have to get through each day, I would have lost Nawtypoo in the first six months. To put it bluntly, I've just had an absolute shitload of rotten luck.
To quote the Queen herself, this past year in particular has been a 'annus horriblis' - make that 18 months actually. I have lost three jobs since last October alone, none of which have been my fault. I have been on a medical benefit since January - not because I am sick but because I have been caring for someone who has been. Going out to work has not been possible during this time and I have been granted a benefit on the grounds of acute stress. Incidentally I have to say that WINZ have been nothing but incredibly helpful and supportive during this time and indeed ever since I became a solo mother. I know not everyone is so fortunate but my local branch totally rocks, I dread to think where I would be without them.
Losing my job at the local newspaper at the start of the year was a bit of a bummer but was understandable given the circumstances. Things were going to be harder financially for sure - but as long as I still had my That's Life! magazine column we would be OK. I had been writing it for nine years and that was what paid for the roof over our heads. Of course, no sooner had I said that than a couple of weeks later I received a phone call from Australia, advising me with regret that all their freelance columnists were being let go and from now on everything was going to be done in house. So while their weekly money saving column still says 'with Penny Wise', it's not me and hasn't been for a long while. Still, nine years is one heck of a good run for a magazine column, you don't come across those too often! And it was always going to come to an end one day; it was just unfortunate that for me the timing couldn't be worse. In addition, poor Gareth became ill shortly after. Despite numerous tests doctors never really got to the bottom of it but it was so debilitating that he had to give up work in April.
When I think about it now, if I say so myself I've done bloody well. I've kept up with my mortgage, kept the bills paid and kept us all fed, on $500 a week. Wherever I can I sell stuff on Facebook; more often than not this pays for our groceries and then I can put more money towards bills. I don't have an Eftpos card so I am never tempted into spending more than necessary and I don't even have a car any more. When we ran out of firewood we went to the beach every day and collected driftwood because there wasn't room in the budget to buy any more. I'm not saying that to be 'oh look at me, my life is so hard', I'm saying it to show how frugal I've been. I've literally tried everything to hang on to my home. And most of the time, I don't mind.
But you know what? I really feel like I'm done. I can't do this any more. This morning I have 69c in my bank account and that's all we have for the next two days unless I sell some more stuff. I can't keep supporting us all this way. I'm so sick of being stressed out and exhausted from spending every minute of every day thinking about how I can make things better and coming up with no answers. Gareth just started a new job today and I'm now at the stage where I can pick up more work (although that's a bit more difficult these days with no car) but it's too late. I don't think we can bounce back from this. Not even a small bounce.
So this is my dilemma. I have just paid my mortgage for August and I don't know where the hell September's is going to come from. I'm pretty confident things are going to hit the fan. There is just one thing I can do which will make all of this go away - sell my house. The housing market is going crazy where we live and I already have people queuing up wanting to buy it - and I haven't even had it valued yet! I guess what is stopping me most is pride. Pride and not wanting to give up. When my marriage ended I was told I would never own my own home. I did. I was told I wouldn't ever live in anything but a tumbledown rental in a shitty part of town. I ended up achieving the opposite. And I love Nawtypoo, it tears at my heart so much to let her go. But as Gareth said, I bought Nawtypoo because I wanted to give my children a secure roof over their heads. I didn't want us to be in a rental that we could get kicked out, as happens to so many lovely families here. Once the boys left school and were old enough to leave home, I didn't care what happened to me, but I wanted to at least be able to do that.
And I have done that. As Gareth also pointed out, I've done what I set out to do. Maybe now it's time for a new chapter. I know in my heart he's right, I'm still just having trouble letting go. I can hardly blame the poor bloke for wanting me to get a wriggle on, being with me right now must be a bloody nightmare! Seriously, he deserves a medal; much more than a medal. Right now I can't even buy him a bar of chocolate to show him how much I love him. It's been tough on all of us for too long.
Well would you look at that. I seem to have written myself out of my dilemma. Which was to ask, do I hang on? Do I stay and keep fighting, keep trying to make things work at the expense of my health, my sanity and my loved ones' happiness and well being? Or do I sell my house, be debt free and start again with a clean slate and hopefully a nice little profit to boot? It's a no brainer isn't it. Even if we don't know right now where we'll end up it's got to be better than this. Ladies and gentlemen, you heard it first here. Nawtypoo Cottage is officially up for sale.