When I was a little girl growing up on West Genesee Street, my daddy would come home from a long work week and deal with the finances of our family-of-four household. He would carefully pay all the bills and then stand up from his task with 20 dollars in his hand and announce, ” We have 20$ for groceries this week. So we will go and we will buy 20$ worth of groceries. When we have spent our 20$, we will stop buying. Its. Just. That. Simple.”
I learned easily and naturally the value of a dollar, budgeting skills, and financial finesse from these shopping trips with my daddy. I attribute my business savvy to these experiences. Little did I know that 45 years later I would be applying the very same budgeting skills to more than monetary concepts.
I’ve decided to spare you the vast and varied details of my past 15 months.
Thus… in a nutshell, I fell and smashed the back of my head on a concrete sidewalk. Five months later I received another blow to my head. Eight months after that yet another. Like most folks I am no stranger to bumps, jolts, thuds and smacks to the head… but after these and several other prior injuries to my noggin’, I have officially graduated to the high ranking position of Post-Concussion Queen. An honor I never even knew existed. A promotion that has changed my life drastically…. and I fear forever.
As I struggle to find my “new normal” I am constantly searching for the best ways to help my tired and injured brain cells process my present state-of-being. I am often looking for clues that will aid me in living the life that is in front of me now.
Thus birthed the “Twenty Dollars in My Pocket” theory.
Two years ago I was happily living on an “ability” budget of 100$ a week. I had enough cash in the bank to go and do anything I pleased, anytime I wanted. I led a full, healthy, busy life loaded with motion, noise, and outings. I rarely, if ever, stopped to consider my weekly allowance. It was just there. I used every dime of it each week, draining my account to zero by Sunday night. But that was never a problem because Monday morning would roll around and voila! I would find a deposit had been made into my “ability” account while I had been sleeping the night away! And I magically woke up each Monday morning with another 100$ to spend.
Now, bashing my head in so many times has posed a big problem. It has cut my weekly funds drastically. I no longer have 100$ of “ability” to budget each week.
Currently, I am living on an “ability” budget of about twenty bucks a week.
And that’s on a rich week.
From 100$ to twenty bucks… that’s quite a decrease. I call it my austerity budget. Bare bones necessity. No frills. No perks. No glamor. Survival tactics at their finest. Basics. Basics. Basics. Because these days everything is so expensive.
After living with a head injury for 15 months I have finally settled into an “ability” budget that makes sense for me. And I thank God daily for my good daddy that taught me all those years ago how to live on a budget. How to spend wisely. How to plan. How to prepare. And how to stop spending when your twenty dollars ran out. I am absolutely sure if he had not I would be sitting here today, staring at my “ability” budget and crying buckets of tears….broke, completely bankrupt, and drowning in debt.
My budget doesn’t look like anybody else’s in the whole wide world. And that’s fine. It doesn’t have to. My budget only has to work for me, for this season, for this time. I do not even have to like my budget but I am foolish if I don’t stick to it. There are always extra fees to pay when I bounce an “ability” check.
It just ain’t worth it.
So with twenty dollars in my pocket I set out for my week.
A week where everything is very expensive.
Living Fee= 1.00$ each day. (Getting up, moving, cooking, answering phone, paperwork, taking care of kids, etc.)
Therapy-At-Home Fee=1.00$ each day. (10-minute walks, vestibular/vision therapy, light therapy, reading, watching T.V.)
Car Ride Fee= 1.00$ each drive (just to ride in a car as I am unable to drive at all)
Out-Of-House Activity Fee=2.00$ each time (church, doctor appt, store, kids games)
Set Back Fee=3.00$ each day automatically added on just to open my eyes if I am in a set back due to overstimulation, overdoing, etc. (Unfortunately, I find myself in this state more often than not.)
Stress Fee=1.00$ for each added/unexpected stress. (It adds up believe me you. An injured brain isn’t capable of handling stress like it used to!)
There you have it. Quite a budget ‘eh?
That’ my week.
That’s my life.
That’s where the twenty dollars in my pocket goes.
I have to plan, prepare and pray. Cause twenty dollars ain’t much to live on these days, not with inflation and all. And twenty dollars seems kinda puny after those 100$ paychecks. But I suppose it could be worse. I could be living on five bucks a week. Or not living at all.
Budgets are aids. They are helps. They are assessments.
They have purpose. They have value.
Budgets are meant to help you take what you have and use it well.
They allow you to see into the reality and plan appropriately.
Yes, budgeting is a gift my daddy gave to me many, many years ago.