Saturday, April 12, 2008

Farewell to pine nuts...

Today we bought a new (to us) car. I've been praying for the past few weeks for the Lord to provide a car for us, and I believe this 2003 Volkswagen Jetta is the answer to that request.

We can't really afford it, even though it is a great deal, but it is a long time coming, and we're biting the bullet to try to make the payment work. Iivo has been driving my 2-door (grrrrr!) 1992 Honda Accord since our first child was born. Although it has only(!) 125K miles on it (Hondas are known to go to easily to over 200K miles), it is getting to the point that it has some pretty expensive repairs on it a couple of times a year.

So, how did this come to pass? Well, a few weeks ago, my van went into the shop for routine maintenance, but had to stay for a couple of days. The kids and I took the Honda, and Iivo got a ride to work. I was shocked. The car is a yukky ride. It has been a few years since I've had to drive it. It is quite old. It isn't very clean inside or out. The radio doesn't work. (He poured coffee in the original one, years ago, and this is an after-market multi-disc-changer-thing he put in, back in pre-MP3-player days. It sucks.) The windshield wipers create an impenetrable blur on the windshield. (Don't ask why he hasn't had them replaced yet, because I don't know.) It was generally just unpleasant.

Also, it has been dumping about half a quart of oil per week on our driveway for weeks now, so the taste in my mouth - as far as an assumption about how the car is doing - both cosmetically and mechanically - is rather sour. I told him we should probably think about starting to make financial provision for another car for him sometime soon. He assured me that he is fine driving this thing with the big fender dent in the back until it dies. (Don't ask me about the time he put our twelve-year-old daughter behind the wheel in our suburban neighborhood, and she freaked out trying to pull into our driveway without so much as a single braking, crashing BOTH of our cars simultaneously!)

I am pleased that I have a husband so willing to sacrifice, and not at all caught up in "image" and stuff. It makes our life as a single-income family trying to pay for homeschooling that much easier.

But I am also so pleased that the Lord has chosen this time around to give him a little luxury. This Jetta has heated leather seats, and sport wheels, and a sunroof. The stereo system plays cassettes and CDs, and will easily accommodate his ipod. It has a 1.8L turbo engine and looks pretty great, too.

When we were considering whether or not to buy the car, Iivo said, "I don't need all those bells and whistles... just something simple that gets me to and from work... we're paying for fanciness." But I reminded him that - at the price they were asking - we WEREN'T paying for fanciness. The Lord was just throwing it in to bless Him.

God is so good to us! Now we just have to figure out how to sacrifice what we need to to make the payments work. Iivo's comment to the kids was simply, "Well, kids. No more pine nuts in our salads for five years."

We've been here before. Early in our marriage, after we bought our house and I was home with our first child, he was bringing home around $1600 a month, and our mortgage payment was about $800 a month. That left $800, and we had to pay about $300 a month for health insurance. (This was just major catastrophic coverage, too, so our deductible - even at that price - was $5K.) So there was $500 to pay for everything else... power, phone, water, sewer treatment, etc. After all the bills were paid, I had $200/mo. left to buy anything I bought. ANYTHING. We're talking food, clothes, gas, diapers, haircuts, tampons, EVERYTHING else each month. It was pretty tight, needless to say. There was nothing like cell phones or cable TV. We bought our clothes at thrift stores. (still do...) We had dial-up Internet for years after everyone we knew was online broadband. We furnished our home with things from yard sales. (Literally. If we wanted something, I'd put it on the "yard sale prayer list," and - if we actually needed it - it would always come.) I resisted the urge at the Pampered Chef parties, and said no to the jewelry or clothing ones.

We ate a lot of beans. We didn't eat a lot of pine nuts. And we made it.

So here we are... three more kids later, with gas three dollars more per gallon! And we're stepping back into the "austerity program." After the pine nuts, the next thing to go? Eating out. Our family spends a relative fortune when we all eat out together. It is easily our largest budgetary sinkhole. It will be hard to give up, as it is such a social part of our lives as a family, and with most of those around us. (Even those around us we know who are lamenting how much they're financially struggling are always going out to eat after church.) It also is often the result of just not having gotten the meal together, given the craziness of the homeschooling day. But we're committed to trying to make it work. I'll keep you posted how it is going...

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