Getting By

Here’s the thing… I’m not writing this post as a pity party. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not looking for a hand out. I’ve just got a lot on my mind and I do better when I process things while writing.

The fact that people reading this blog get to share in my jumbled thought process is just a bonus for you.

I’m 39 years old. I will never be wealthy. I will never be well off. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever be comfortable. Not to be a complete pessimist, but I doubt I’ll ever even have the kind of life where I’m able to get a little ahead of things.

I say that, but that’s not entirely true. I’m confident that, from time to time, I will be able to get a little ahead of things, financially speaking. But I’m also realistic enough to know that something will always come along to pull the rug out from under me, just enough to kiss getting ahead good bye.

And that’s okay. Because I’ve still been able to get by.

I didn’t have a lot growing up. I didn’t come from a family that experienced any kind of financial windfall. My father worked for the railroad. My mother worked for the city. Neither of these are what you would consider high paying jobs. But they were good jobs and we never went hungry. We never did without. We didn’t have excess, but we had enough.

So when the time came for me to go to college, I went. I applied to a small, private institution and I knew that I would be on my own to figure out how to pay for it. Therefore, I did like so many other students across the country have done. I applied for federal student loans. And, like so many other students across the country, I exited college at a severe disadvantage. I sought employment for the sole purpose of paying off my student loans.

Unfortunately, I majored in two areas that are not famous for having high paying careers. Throughout my adult life, I have worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, for only myself. I don’t have a wife. I don’t have any children. I only have myself to worry about in regards to food, clothing, and shelter. And I’ve gotten by.

Through car problems, past and present, I’ve always found a way. Sometimes… no, often times, the timing has been miraculous in how things have worked out, and I truly thank God for His provision in those times. And I’ve gotten by.

Currently, I’m earning more than I ever have in my adult life. Not that that’s anyone’s business, but it’s true. I won’t share here how much my salary actually is, but believe me when I say it’s considerably more than I’ve ever claimed on any previous year’s tax forms. Yet, if you were to look at that number, it’s still something you may laugh at, informing me that it’s really not that much.

It’s true. The number, when facing a national average, is quite low. But that’s okay. Because, from my perspective, it’s a significant increase from any salary I’ve earned in the past. And I’m getting by.

I was even arrogant enough to believe I’ve been able to get ahead. Utilizing my current salary, I’ve been able to work toward paying down my debt. No… not the student loan debt. Let’s be honest… Unless the legislation that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are proposing passes, I’ll be making student loan payments until about 45 years after I die.

No, I’m talking about working toward paying down credit card debt. Am I happy about having credit card debt? Of course not. I’ll admit, I was foolish with credit cards during college and soon after. No one taught me the appropriate use of credit in those days. I learned the hard way. Eventually, I had everything paid off.

However, in recent years, as I’ve continued to work and barely make ends meet with the income I’ve received, I’ve found that there are difficult times in which one is glad to have a credit card. For instance, when the car breaks down and needs to be repaired and you just don’t have the cash to pay out of pocket, you turn to a credit card.

As I’ve managed to pay back that debt, I’ve also determined that I could afford to find an apartment in which I could live by myself. Everywhere I’ve lived in the last eight years, I have required roommates. Because I could not afford any sort of rent on my own. That is different with my current financial situation.

At least, it was.

Like I said, maybe I was arrogant to think I’d gotten a little ahead. Paying down three different credit cards to a zero balance may have given me a big head. The excitement of signing a lease on my own may have made me complacent. Seeing my savings account go from next to nothing to… well… more than nothing may have given me an undeserved sense of comfort.

Because that’s about the time that the car troubles began. And if you’ve been reading my blog in recent weeks, you know all about those car problems.

Suddenly, one of those credit cards that had been paid down is nearly maxed out. Suddenly, even that won’t be enough to take care of what needs to be done to fix what’s broken. Suddenly, that growing savings account is back down to nearly nothing because, well, when you sign a new lease you have to pay the deposit.

Will I get by? Sure. Will it hurt for a bit? Of course.

Because there are always options when it comes to getting by. And the option I’ve gone with is a personal loan. I am absolutely not happy about going (further) into debt to pay for vehicle repairs. This represents a monthly payment that I wasn’t planning on as I move into a new, more expensive living situation in which I will only be able to rely on myself.

And maybe this will mean that another option I’ll have to pursue is a second job. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like I needed a second job to make ends meet and, I’ll be honest, I still think it’s a bit ridiculous for a single man with no dependents to need two jobs to make ends meet. But it is what it is. If that’s what it comes to, so be it.

I’d be tempted to go find a second job right now, considering I have my summer off. But I just can’t logically make it make sense for me to find work somewhere when I’m about to move to another city. Either I find a job there and have to drive back and forth (in a rental car) for two months, or I find a job here and have to drive back and forth once I get moved there. When August arrives and I’m settled in my new place, then I will gladly entertain the notion of a second job. Again, if it becomes necessary.

And maybe it won’t be absolutely necessary. But maybe it’ll be the wiser course of action. Because maybe by working a second job, I’ll be able to get a little bit ahead. Though, after reading back what I wrote above, I may not believe that getting a little bit ahead is actually a possibility for someone in my situation.

I’ll never own a home. If some woman ever decides it would be a good idea to marry me, I’d never be able to give her a nice wedding. If I ever had kids, I’d never be able to give them the newest, hottest thing that they just have to have. But that’s okay. We’d get by.

The other day, I joked on Facebook about creating a GoFundMe account. I didn’t say what it would be for. Anyone who knows me on Facebook who pays attention to my blog (I really don’t think it’s many), would obviously know it’s all about paying for my car. But I wasn’t serious about it. I’d never imagine I could fund anything with that kind of thing. And I seriously doubt there are many people who believe me getting my car fixed is nearly a good enough cause to contribute to.

Then there’s my mom. She figured, What could it hurt? and went ahead and created a GoFundMe page. At first, I ignored it. I was just gonna let that be her thing and if people contributed, great. I wasn’t optimistic, but I’ll let her do what she wants to do. She wants to help and this is a way she can help. I mean, the picture of me that she used isn’t great, but whatever. I wasn’t going to share the page.

But, I figure, what could it hurt? If you’re interested in contributing to this fund that my mother created, you can do so by clicking here.

Maybe you frown upon these things. Maybe you look at it as if it’s a hand out and makes it look like I’m not willing to work for and earn what it will take to get my engine fixed. Maybe you’re the kind of person who reads about these accounts and you love to give what you can when you can. Either way, you do you, boo.

Because, and hear me when I say this, I’m not counting on anything that anyone else is or isn’t doing in this situation. I am counting on me. I’ve secured a personal loan which will allow me to pay for engine repairs once they’re completed in a few days. I’ll make payments on that loan each month for the next four years (unless I happen to get ahead and manage to pay it off sooner), just like I’ll continue making payments on student loans and rent and insurance and groceries and utilities and gasoline and all the other little things that come up in life.

I will have immense gratitude in my heart for anyone who happens to be willing to donate. I will hold no ill-will toward any who choose not to. But I honestly don’t believe this GoFundMe thing will make or break my ability to pay to have my car fixed. That will be done with or without anyone else’s help.

We live in a society where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle-class is all but evaporating. But I guess that’s okay. We’ll get by.

Feature Image by Patryk Sobczak on Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Getting By

  1. Sadly, I don’t have any money to donate to your GoFundMe, but I shared it on facebook and twitter, if that’s OK with you, Aaron!

    Like

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