How do we do it? One day at a time

We have some real ups and downs here, both in terms of how we’re doing at any given time financially, and how we’re doing at any given time in terms of stress levels, feeling like progress is being made, etc. A month ago I was really super jazzed for the start of April because we were going to have a big hog sale which would bring in almost $5000 worth of sales. That money would then be used to pay for farm bills, feed, fencing, etc. But we didn’t have sufficient sales, and due to state law we have to have the animal sold before it goes to slaughter, so I still have four pigs out there, still eating every day, because they didn’t get sold ahead of time. That cuts my earnings from that big sale, in half. In my pre-DR life, where I would have previously just bought all the same stuff and slapped the difference onto a credit card. During our first year post-DR, I was still tempted to do that but didn’t. Now that we’re 1+ years into DR, it turns my stomach to think that I used to do that. We will put off some purchases, reduce others, work harder to make more sales in other categories, etc etc. In other words, scrounge. Not what I wanted to be doing at 47 years of age, but it’s better than the alternative.

As for taxes, oh, yes, I so totally feel your pain. Not sure if you recall, or perhaps you weren’t on the list then, but about half a year ago I finally bit the bullet and came “out of the ‘I-didn’t-pay-taxes’ closet. I called my accountant, said “ok, here’s the deal”, we did two years’ worth of taxes, and turned them in then waited for the inevitable letters from the IRS about the late penalties. I was having some medical issues during the first year we went late, so we applied for a waiver for those penalties and got some of them waived. But my total bill still came in over $8000. OUCH!!!!!!! I have started paying on that, via a payment plan I proactively proposed to the IRS, and we got our 2012 taxes done early, with a refund expected. We’ll never see it – it’ll go straight towards the amount owed for 2010/2011. That was painful on so many levels, but it had to be done, we did it, we just bit the bullet and went for it. My wallet cries at night now but I sleep better.

You will have setbacks. Guaranteed. You will have moments (or whole freakin’ weeks) of “ok, this has really gotten old, I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere so why should I even bother?” Or, you’ll have the privilege (!) of going to visit friends and/or family who don’t agree with what you’re doing, don’t see the value in it, don’t see the down-the-road rewards, and will flaunt (with as much enthusiasm as they can muster) how they are living so much better, and you’d silly to not join in the fun. That used to really upset me; sometimes it still does. Folks on the list will recall that I’ve occasionally vented to the group about some friends of ours who are living the high life? The husband of that couple just PAID MONEY to drive around a racetrack for an hour in a Lamborghini. I didn’t want to ask how much he paid for that experience. He’s happy with that “investment” and hey, whatever, it’s his money. But we’ll spend ours differently. If that means we drive a 30 year old truck (which is FINALLY running again), then so be it. If that means I have holes in all my socks, so be it. That %^&$% credit card which just about killed me, is steadily going down. My accountant bill for all that tax work, is steadily going down. My feed bill was paid in full at the end of last year; now I can joke with the feed store folks again about how much I owed, and how long it took to pay off, but I can finally look the owner of the store in the eye without feeling ashamed. That’s worth something.

I agree with the others – go do something nice for yourself today. I choose a slightly different article of clothing when I need to remind myself that I’m a grownup with grown-up responsibilities – I call it “putting on the big girl boots”. Saddle up, lock and load, do whatever it takes to knuckle down and keep trudging along the DR path. Acknowledge the setbacks for what they are: a complete and total pain in the tuckus. But that’s life. Go over/around/under/through it. To quote a recent country song, “if you find yourself going through hell, keep on going!” With the notion that someday you’ll emerge on the other side. And then we’ll get to hear you yell that you’re D-E-B-T–F-R-E-E!!!!!!!!