[Editor’s note: This “My View,” which has been shortened from its original, is reprinted with permission from Lisa DeNardo’s blog, “Hullabaloo Homestead.” She posted it on December 4. Sadly, far too many people in the Upper Delaware Valley also find themselves facing this kind of financial hardship. You can read the entire blog posting at our link: http://rvrptr.ws/TZHPVF]
I have tried my darnedest to remain focused on all of the little things I have to be grateful for. Because no matter how bad things might seem, there is always something to be grateful for. Deep down I know that. And that is the one thing carrying me through right now—my ability to be grateful.
The biggest issue right now, is that we have to move… as in move now, in the next couple of weeks. Where are we going? I don’t exactly know. Somewhere. We have an idea, but dates may or may not coincide. Either way, Christmas is going to be a tumble-by… meaning, as I see people decorating and celebrating, I am packing my family’s life back up into boxes… again… for the second time this year. Not knowing where we will even be.
Life happens. The people who own the house we have been living in want to sell it. They were kind enough to offer us first dibs on the property—this little homestead we have been working so hard on creating over the past eight months. But after crunching numbers, it became very clear that if we did, we would be way back at square one. Upside down. At a place and a mentality that we swore off when we chose to walk away from our foreclosed home this past spring.
Apparently, and rightfully so, no one should EVER pay a rent or mortgage that exceeds 28% of their monthly income. If you do, the result will be life in a financially cramped place. Many people offer themselves a cushion of credit cards, home equity loans, lines of credit, etc. Four years ago, we gave them up, too. We never use credit. Never. As painful as it is to do without, I would much rather be able to have only what we can afford and to limit ourselves to live only within our financial means.
Jason is currently working construction again. Whether here or there, now or then, he makes a maximum of $2,400 a month [when he’s able to find work]. If we apply the 28% rule, that means we can only afford a monthly housing payment of roughly $650 a month!
All I want is to make sure my family has a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Are those two things honestly becoming that hard to come by?! Have you ever tried to feed a family of seven on $80 a week?! I have [during times when Jason can’t find work]. It sucks. Telling my kids they can’t have an apple because we have to save them to share over a whole week... Telling them they’ve got to go to bed hungry! We CANNOT cut food out of our budget! Even if it’s the last and only thing in our budget.
For a long time, I have been lashing out at myself: “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I figure this out?” “Isn’t there some magic formula to help me figure out how to be able to afford to live?” “Why do my kids need to struggle like this?” Then, during one of my middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks, I had a huge realization. This is not my problem [alone]. THIS IS A HUGE EPIDEMIC! There are other people and families with kids out there just like us, some much worse off even. Without homes. Without food. Without jobs. Struggling… Trying to Make. Ends. Meet.
Oddly, this made me feel a lot better. Sadly, it made me pretty darn depressed. Where do we go? What will be next? What is going to happen to us? How is it this impossible to survive anymore?
One of my dearest, dearest friends recently reminded me, “The path is there; it’s already been laid. You just need to trust that it’s there, and just keep walking.”
The time has come to trust that the path is indeed there… and to just keep walking. And the one thing carrying me through right now is gratitude. It’s the one thing that’s mine… that’s in my power… to help me see the light that shines all around me everywhere I go. And no matter what obstacles fall across my path… as long as I trust… and just keep walking… all will be okay. Somehow in some way… all will be okay. For all of us. I know that deep in my heart.
[On Saturday, December 8, less than a week after DeNardo’s blog posting, the family found a place to live, and they will move this weekend. A local farmers’ group delivered several boxes of fresh food. The family expresses its gratitude to so many people who stepped forward to help.]