For a rare moment, it looked as if my financial picture for the year wasn’t going to be quite so uncertain as in the last couple of years… I ended up receiving an annual bonus — always a looming question mark over my finances early in the year — and got a nice tax refund. I was able to put some money in savings and pay off some credit card debt, and relax just a touch.
And then, one by one, all Hell seemed to have broken loose.
It all started with the car. Towards the end of February, right after the bonus and tax refund cleared, I took the car in for an oil change. Long story short, it ended up costing almost $200 when everything was said and done. But on a car that only cost me $550 due to the incredible kindness of neighbors, that’s not so bad, right? That is, until I went to go get the vehicle registration renewed not two weeks later, and landed on a $700 repair bill. OUCH! (In North Carolina you have to get an annual inspection, and there were a few things wrong that HAD to be fixed for me to legally drive. Ugh.)
Still, it was a very inexpensive car, and in the end it’s still very much worth it. Just wasn’t expecting almost a thousand dollars in car repair bills in two weeks’ time, y’know?
And then there’s the puppy. Yes, driving home from lunch and finding a tiny lil’ bundle of joy on the side of the road was a miraculous event, and she’s adorable. But holy HELL, that has turned out to be one very expensive lunch. First there was the initial veterinary visit, with vaccinations and check-ups and deworming and yada yada yada. And then, after she and the older dog got into a rowdier-than-usual scuffle, there was another trip to the vet and the accompanying examination, sedation, x-ray, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, etc. All told, I’ve spent about as much on the dog in the last month as I have on the car. Almost to the dollar.
Then yesterday, a routine maintenance trip on the air conditioning system on the condo turned into much more than that. What was supposed to be a $119 tune-up turned into a $600 repair bill, thanks to some equipment problems and such. It’s a long story, but the short version is, I could’ve gotten by with about $200 for the next few months until the first 100-degree day of summer, and then you can bet it would’ve died for good and I’d have ended up spending a ton anyway, when it was the most urgent and the more problematic to get service done.
And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that the master bedroom closet light refuses to turn on most of the time, despite multiple changes of lightbulbs… And that the dryer insists on spewing tons of steam into the condo when it’s operated, no doubt due to a problem with the exhaust system. Or that the condo above me is apparently leaking water through the floor and walls into my shower wall. Again.
Of course, all of this is happening after I’ve just made two financial commitments that, in retrospect, I can ill afford… But I put together a trip to New York City in April to see some friends I haven’t caught up with in awhile, and of course to check out a bunch of new shows that have just opened on Broadway. (More on that in a later piece.) And as luck would have it, it’s renewal season for the Broadway Lights series here in Charlotte… which I just purchased, thinking I’d lock it in while I still had a little leftover from my February surplus.
Bottom line is, in about five weeks’ time I’ve gone from feeling great about my financial situation to once again biting my nails and charging things I can’t afford to buy. It’s amazing how quickly things can conspire to screw with your momentary sense of financial security.
And the funny thing is, what really set me off on this mood tonight was discovering Nala chewing on my MacBook power cord. I mean, she’s a puppy, and she’s going to chew on things… It only costs $40 to replace, which in the grand scheme of things is not a big deal. But somehow, that just pushed me over the edge. I rapidly alternated between wanting to scream and fighting the urge to burst into tears. Somehow the sight of her tearing up something relatively expensive just turned into the last straw.
It’s times like these that I’m tempted to pick up my things and sneak out of town in the middle of the night, to slink back home to Florida with my tail tucked between my legs and live at my mother’s house, avoiding the world of bills and responsibilities and problems.
But then Sal smiles at me, or one of the dogs looks up at me with a wagging tail and licks my face, or I glance out the window at the Charlotte skyline at night, or a friend randomly sends me a txt msg… And I take a deep breath, remember how hard I’ve worked to build the live I have here, and focus on all of the wonderful people and things in my life that make me happy. And I resolve that tomorrow will be a better day.
Having the new Panic! At the Disco album to listen to doesn’t hurt, either.