Three Life Lessons Learned Last Week

by Kelly · 19 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

This past month has been a period of transition for my family. My two older kids went back to school and I went from being a stay at home mom to a full time student myself. My eleven month old daughter has started going to the nanny’s full time as well. Add in changing seasons, teething, unexpected school related expenses and my husband’s mysterious month long sickness and the whole family has been out of sorts, to say the least.

Last Thursday it all came to a head, and culminated in me (literally) crying my woes out on a friend’s shoulder. Let me tell you, a good cry is (almost) as good as a good glass of wine in relieving tensions. Afterwords I started to feel better about things and I realized three important life truths.

Number One: Some things are more important than money.

I set up a new contract with our nanny this week, for the next twelve months. I’m going to be paying her a lot of money, lots and lots of money. Some of it will be reimbursed by the government, but not all. Thinking about the money we’re going to be paying her in relation to how tight our budget already is was making me anxious. Then I realized that I don’t (really) care how much she costs because, a) I trust her completely with my children and b) the fact that she speaks English with them is very important to me. These two facts help relieve the stress of wondering how we’re going to meet our monthly budget.

Number Two: Family comes first.

Thursday was especially busy and hectic. My husband was at a meeting at the boys’ school, while I renegotiated the nanny’s contract. To top things off I had a presentation due the next day and a networking meeting to attend. Coming home to find a sick husband and a feverish baby did not fit in with my plans. But after frantically flapping around the living room I called to say I wasn’t going to be able to make the meeting. And you know what? Even though I was scheduled to lead the workshop, everyone understood. Family really does come first.

Number Three: Read the small print.

After dosing both the hubby and the baby up on painkillers, feeding and bathing the kids and getting them settled for the night, I came downstairs to find my husband trouble-shooting my computer in preparation for the next day’s presentation. He managed to download what needed to be downloaded and launch what needed to be launched and I completed my presentation in plenty of time.

Saturday I returned to where I bought the laptop and asked why my software had stopped functioning. The salesperson’s answer? “Madame, the computer you bought came with the trial version of the software. You only have 6O days’ use of it before you have to pay.” And when I started sputtering he interjected “It says so right on the box.”

So yes, it does say that it’s a trial version of the program without which I won’t be able to do any school work this year. And going to the next aisle over only rewarded me with the information that I’ll soon need to pay รขโ€šยฌ130 or be up a creek. Reading the fine print in advance wouldn’t have kept me from needing to buy the program, but it would have saved me a lot of stress, something I can certainly do with less of at the moment.

And you? What are your fundamental truths? How do you keep from going completely bonkers?


1 Denise September 24, 2008

i’m still trying to figure that out. It must be something though, because I should have gone bonkers along time ago!

2 meagan September 24, 2008

I’ve had the same kind of September. I needed a Gchat pep talk from a very good friend the other day to convince me I was doing the right thing with our new nanny, the part time job I start tomorrow, the increasing blog responsibilities, etc., kind of like a virtual “cry on the shoulder.”

Anyhow, I’m not sure which piece of software you’re laying out cash for, but if it’s PPT, try the GoogleDocs version. It’s free and works, IME, close enough to the same. Good luck with the presentation!

3 Alex September 24, 2008

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. It’s all small stuff.
3. This too shall pass.

4 Kelly September 24, 2008

My most basic tool…call it a truth or even a coping mechanism, is definitely family is everything. And family doesn’t necessarily mean blood related. So I guess maybe the people in your life are everything. Even when it seems like things are falling apart, if you have someone in your life to turn to, then you have something. While my 6 month daughter who still won’t sleep through the night has me pulling my hair out, I remember how lucky I am to have her. When my husband is stressing me out, I remember how lucky I am to have a partner. I am thankful for my sisters who will let me vent about the most mundane things, even though her “problems” sometimes drive me crazy. I just have to stop and realize that people are the most important things because you can have all the money in the world, but with out good people surrounding you, you are just a rich, lonely person!

5 Frank September 24, 2008

Had a similar chat with my family. Here is what we did. My family of 5 had monthly utility bill of about $800. The home communications portion was $500. By reviing the bills, I was able to reduce it by $150, just by reviewing the bills. The min culprit was the family cell plan, although the cable bill had a lot of fat. If time get tough, I can probably reduce it by another $75

6 Amiyrah September 24, 2008

I don’t have any tricks to prevent from going “bonkers” around here, but I tend to hold it all up and literally have a panic attack every few months. The last one was pretty bad and caused me to just take a few days from EVERYTHING and get my mind right. I make the mistake of taking everything on myself and not asking hubby for help. And even though he asks to help, I still tell him “I got it.” Wrong wrong wrong. We’re still a young married couple, so I know that i’ll get it eventually but its so hard to let go of that control.

7 Kelly September 24, 2008

Thanks for the comments everyone! I’m glad to know that I’m not alone. As for the software, it is powerpoint, but I need something that’s compatible with everyone else (for group work) and I’m afraid that googledocs won’t work. But I’ll check it out, thanks for the tip!

8 Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 24, 2008

As a man thinketh, so is he

9 Vintage Mommy September 24, 2008

Hey Kelly,
I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a tough go. Back to school is always a transition, even w/out all the other stuff you have going on.

So . . . how do I keep from going bonkers? I exercise. I’d be completely ga-ga without my doses of endorphines. Not to say I don’t enjoy my wine in the evening . . .

Hang in there friend!

10 KM September 24, 2008

Microsoft Office for Students and Teachers is Microsoft’s stripped down Office . It has Powerpoint, Word, Excel etc. It’s a fraction of the cost, and has 3 licenses. I used it for the kids’ laptops.
…and Chardonnay at 9pm . That’s my sanity helper:)

11 Diana September 25, 2008

Check out Google Docs for a possible solution to #3. It is free, online and easy to use. It may replace those expensive office document programs. Just google the words google docs. I think you can even import docs you already have under other programs but I am not positive because I have never done this.
Hope this helps!!

12 Malcolm September 25, 2008

There’s Open Office Impress which is OO’s power point replacement, which does support PPT format (load and save). That’s free (in both senses, being open source) and runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

I haven’t used OOImpress, but I use OOWriter at work and it’s frequently more compatible with MSWord than other versions of Word.

13 Kelly September 25, 2008

My first instinct was to try OPen Office’s PowerPoint version, but in fact it’s not compatible with PP, at least I couldn’t make it read my files. I’m going to try GoogleDocs this weekend.

The thing that just really frustrates me is that I wasn’t prepared- I didn’t realize the laptop only came with an evaluation version so I didn’t expect it to crash like it did.

14 Amy @ My Daily Dollars September 25, 2008

Wow! You’ve had a lot going on. It’s nice to see how you hold onto what’s really important. Sometimes, I get all swept up in stress at work. My new rule is that if I can’t explain the seriousness of my work problem to our 12-year old, then it’s not really a problem! Taking deep breaths and touching base with what’s important is exactly how I handle stress as well.

15 Zhu September 26, 2008

Life lessons… let me see…

I really have to pay attention to my credit card spending. It’s so easy to lose track of how much you spend… I’m new to that and I need to use it because I’m building a credit history. Yet I have to be careful.

I totally understand when you say some expenses are worth it and are important… people should choose a nanny based on her salary. Some stuffs are important!

16 Gidget September 26, 2008

I can do all things through Christ through strengthens me. That just about sums it up for me! ๐Ÿ™‚
Thanks for sharing your hard times, one of the cool things about getting to know other bloggers a little is you not only have your shoulder to cry on in person but digitally too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

17 Frugal Trenches September 27, 2008

Oh I can so relate. Thank you.
I hope it gets better and better each week!

18 Nicole September 30, 2008

Well I do hope things are going better.

One thing I’ve always had as a personal philosophy: You get what you pay for. And I don’t just mean in the money way but in the time, effort, energy, etc. way.

I’ve also learned recently (and it’s cliche) but you only get a certain amount of time in this life, and use it wisely.

19 Mary@SimplyForties September 30, 2008

Best life lesson for me –

Life happens exactly at the rate that it is supposed to.

It doesn’t always help me to be more patient but it makes a good mantra when things seem to spinning out of control!

Good luck.

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