This weekend away has been planned for a few months. Cash is tight, so I worked two eleven hour days this week to pad out our caravanning budget. The day before we left I checked my bank account to see whether my pay had come through. I did not see the amount I was expecting. I saw MORE!!
As anyone who has received unexpected funds knows, the joy is quickly tempered by WTF!? And “how will I pay this back if it’s all just an accident?” The money was from Centrelink (for non-Australian readers, that is the kind of welfare arm of the government that pays income support to families with low incomes, single parent families, etc). We get a family support payment fortnightly, without which we would s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e. This was not our normal payment.
The temptation to spend it was big, but the fear of not being able to pay it back was bigger, so I sat on ‘hold’ for half an hour (their call centres are notoriously understaffed because they’re probably shuffling employees around to assist in climate change denial strategies and trashing the Great Barrier Reef). When I finally spoke to someone, I asked them in seventeen different ways, were the ABSOLUTELY SURE that I could spend that money? Why was that money there? Were they ABSOLUTELY SURE I could use it? Really? Could you check again…in triplicate?
I was reassured that something at their end had been reconciled since I had recently notified them that M would not be submitting a tax return for the previous financial year. I gently suggested that if I’d known there was some money dangling in the ether, I would have let them know a lot bloody sooner… Anyway – a windfall! Not a huge amount of money, but enough to buy supplies for the weekend without angsting about it. And I used the majority of it to placate the credit card.
What I noticed was the sudden ease I felt while doing the grocery shopping. And when I went to put diesel in the car, I didn’t put in $40 and hope it would see us to Inverloch and back, I filled the tank – $75 – and felt no pain. I wonder about how much unconscious tension we carry around in relation to things like money or lack or time. It wasn’t until I was lazily filling the car that I gave myself a mental shake and realised I suddenly felt a whole lot lighter. Sometimes a change is as good as a holiday, but sometimes BOTH is BETTER! 🙂
Realising how much easier just a bit more money makes things tempts me to try and exist on less and squirrel away more for such things as a weekend away. Although, without serious frugality measures, that just won’t happen. We don’t eat takeaway dinners when we can’t be bothered cooking, we don’t go to the cinema or the theatre or the Comedy Festival, and we don’t go out for dinner. Our money goes, for the most part, on necessities, without much left over.
I’m always interested in what other people spend on their weekly shop. For the four of us, I spend $200 – which seems like a LOT of money for one week?! I am hoping to use the windfall money to fund a bit of bulk-buying via food co-ops – and then put aside the money I’ve saved on the weekly food shop to fund another bulk buy in a month or two… Listen to me getting all dreamy-eyed with economic possibilities…