Saturday, February 4, 2017

Some things never change

The weather's been grey and dreary for quite sometime again. Seem winters are similar to the Dutch ones we left behind more and more; not really cold, humid and overcast. Today everything's just..... light grey. Where snow ends and clods start is hard to tell..... A good, depressing atmosphere to tell a bit about recent events.
It started the previous weekend. Our youngest daughter was going to have a scouting overnighter and we would go grocery shopping afterwards. A usual routine these days after payday. Except..... payday was a little not what we expected. Due to administrative errors beyond our control my wife got only about 40% of her salary.... That was friday. To make things more interesting my wife, after leaving our youngest one at the scouting, turned out to have run a flat tire. That was saturday morning...
This meant changing a tire with the tools supplied with the car. We did that before last summer, but now conditions were quite different; cold, with snow and ice on the ground and wheel, grime and sand and did I mention cold? Snow and ice melt when you touch it, but metal stays cold. This was a useful lesson though. Changing the tire in itself is not that much of an issue for us. We do it twice a year at least. But I wonder how many people do not? Have you ever changed a tire on your car? Can you unfasten the bolts on the wheel with nothing but the handtool supplied?  We do not fasten the bolts with powertools, so we can... Having a spare set of gloves in the car is another must have. Wet gloves make for numb fingers very fast. A rubber mat to sit on would also have been nice. Makes for dry and less cold knees.
Well, the tire was changed in under half an hour, so we could go on our way. Fixing the tire was a no-go however. There were 3(!) holes within a 10cm row. Maybe she hit a lost horseshoe?? This meant a new tire and another hole in our budget. You can see where this is going, right.... We did the shopping and loaded up the car real good. And we do that once a month, so we have some supplies at home just in case we happen to run into trouble like low funds, a broken down car or any other circumstance unabling us to do shopping. Plus buying in bulk means you get more for your money. Not just because of larger packages, but also because of less visits to stores.
And that night, again my wife,,,,, This time her cellphone died. Just like that.... A little over one year old, so no guarantee. Wouldn't you know it... That means more expenses coming our way. And then, last week, we got a letter from försakringskassan, a government institution that is supposed to help people with benefits. Supposed to, because if you hear and read the everyday stories about those people.... They help you alright (*insert major sarcasm here*) and so did they with us. We got the final calculations from 2015 and now we have to cough up and repay a very substantial amount in housing benefits, which they deem we received unnecessary. True, we did get it and yes, I worked the summer at the churchyard. Yes, I reported that and no, they did not alter the benefits, saying it was of no consequence and yes, we did spend it. Turns out in hindsight that my income was of no consequence to any health benefits I should want to claim! Not housing!!
But wait! There's more! Due to financial shortages we had to suspend the road tax from our Pajero (roughly the amount of a week's salary), which means I can not work on weekdays and I haven't been called to substitute since before christmas, which means.... You guessed it; no income for me.
And then there is a large car maintenance coming up shortly. A job I can not do myself, so.... Another week's salary down the drain in the near future.
And now we finally got a building permit from the municipality, allowing us to change the sewage system that that same municipality forces us to change! Meaning an increase in mortgage.
As you see some things never change. Finances are always an issue, especially when things are turning out ok and we seem to be having more room in that matter. The more room we get, the harder the blow afterwards is! It is as if something is trying to teach us to get by with very, very little and whenever that little gets more and we adjust to that, lesson 1 is put back in power again!

Thou shalt not receive and thou shalt not spend it!
Thou shalt live as frugal as possible!! 
Thou shalt get by with as little as possible!!!

But there is one change though; a quite significant one. My wife has landed a fulltime job now, meaning a steady, if not massive income. It will be slightly over the barrel scraping minimum we have lived on these past years, but a vacation to the homeland, as my wife would like, will not be a possibility. At least not for all of us at the same time. For us that also means that we will roll into a set pattern; my wife working for an income and me staying home, taking care of kids, household, animals and garden. Very little, if any paid work for me, except maybe during the weekend or school holidays.
We get by and still have the most essential things we need; a roof over our head, wood for warmth, food and warm clothes and gas for the car. The usual bills get paid and we can afford luxuries as cellphones for all.... Although those bloody things seem to be quite mandatory these days. But it showed us just how dependent we are on those devices; social contacts in one form or another, banking and even navigation... It all is gathered in one, battery driven, hitech, prone to fail (because that's the way they are designed, called designed redundancy) handheld gadget, doing it all for you. But when it breaks.... Who knows the phone numbers of their families and friends by heart? Who keeps an up to date copy of the roadmaps in their car? Banking is not even longer possible without such a thing!!
A grim lesson again.

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