The beautiful wilderness in the photo is our backyard. We did not cut the grass yet since we moved into our house in January. We don’t have a lawn mower, and buying one is a while down on the priority list.
A friend mowed our front lawn for us (he preferred that to let us borrow his lawn mower). The front lawn is critical for our image as civilised neighbours; an uncivilised front lawn can threaten our future neighbourhood relationships. The backyard, however, is cloaked behind our tall backyard fences and only accessible through the house, so it is free to go hippie jungle if it wants to.
Moving into a house from a 1-bedroom flat comes with a range of new material needs: lawn mower, garden tools, house tools, furniture, repairs… We prioritised to buy wooden planks and tools so we could install shelves and organise our stuff. Get them out of the boxes so we could return the boxes to the box-hire company.
Return of the road devil
We prioritised to get my car registered. It had been out of rego for more than a year, huddling in the backyard of the building we lived in before. It couldn’t stay there when we moved and we couldn’t drive it to the new place*, so we took it to the mechanic and asked for a quote.
We also asked if he could try to sell it without rego so we could escape the re-registration costs: workshop (labour and spare parts), inspection, insurance, registration fee and new number plates. He asked around and came back with an offer of $500, tops. I’ll need a car of my own again at some stage anyway, so we decided it wasn’t wise to get rid of the car for such a small sum, and coughed up with the payments.
I am happy, because I love the car… I know it so well and it is like an old friend. I am not in position to make irrational financial decisions, so it is a great luck that getting rid of it wasn’t viable. My husband sacrificed the rego of his business car for mine. His rego is now overdue and that car is temporarily off the road; hopefully not for long.
Bills keep rolling in
Mortgage, electricity, gas, water, phone and Internet, road toll, petrol, insurance, food, vet, repayments … Bills keep flooding in like tidal waves that threaten to drown our household.
We don’t have warm water in the pipes anymore. The water heater ceased to function more than a month ago, so showers are f### cold. We can’t afford to get someone out to fix it, so that is just how it is (yes I do still shower almost every day, but it is f### unpleasant).
We need to buy garden tools (including lawn mower), washing soap, furniture, and modem and cables for the new Internet connection. I also need a new toothbrush after I left mine in a vulnerable spot while the dogs were home alone. Since my husband is overseas with his, there is no toothbrush in the house and I haven’t brushed my teeth for the past 4 days. I have less than $12 in my account and they are ear marked for petrol.
My road toll account is frozen. I need to raise the money for my overseas study dept instalment which is due this month. So is the overseas tax arrear instalment.
Mercifully, most good things in life are free. I don’t naturally worry much about money. While I earn too little, I also spend little. I don’t like to go shopping and rarely ‘go out’. Most of my clothes (and shoes) is at least 5 years old, some 20 years old, and I still like it.
We are privileged compared to many others. After all we own a nice house (or the bank does… if we stop paying), cars, good education, quite a lot of freedom, and nice electronic stuff.
However: at this low level of income, bills are enemies that surround our house like an army, waiting for us to give up what we have… house, dogs, sanity. The financial insecurity is a 24-7 anxiety generator. Any surprise expense can knock the budget into emergency mode. A dental bill, a vet bill, a phone bill. Even the regular bills aren’t really all accounted for.
That was a snapshot of our financial situation.
The reason for our struggle to keep up with bills and small household investments is the fact that I don’t make a proper income. My lack of income is an urgent threat to our financial, psychological and marital well-being and stability. I just tend to forget the urgency because it has been urgent for such a long time.
*The law permits driving an unregistered car straight to the workshop… only.