On Monday I wrote about a post regarding Neal Gabler about the “Shame of the Middle Class.” Mr. Gabler correctly diagnosed how the middle-class would struggle with even a $400 emergency. A part of that article was keeping the financial wolves at bay. Part of the insecurity of the middle-class is not only wages and an emergency, but nowadays most people have two parents working or a parent working two jobs. What if you lose one of those jobs? What if you have unexpected expenses? I have preached here about the need for an emergency fund. I have one, but it is a small one. And I think we have an emergency.
The ROB Household Emergency
Mrs. ROB and I are both teachers. Like a lot of teachers we get paid nine or 10 months out of the year. Because of that teachers often need to budget their money in order to make sure they have enough all year round. I actually have two friends who are teachers who get jobs during the summer to give them a little extra cushion.
Luckily, I get paid all year round. I also teach in the summer and do all kinds of extra side hustles for extra money. That is, of course, a good thing. August and September are often the best months of the year financially for me. However, Mrs. ROB is a teacher who only gets paid 9 months out of the year. She sometimes might get a class or two over the summer, but it is certainly not enough to make up for her pay during the school year.
So here is our dilemma. I have written here about how January and June are the worst months financially for us. Well, June just got worse. I will have my regular salary plus money from my summer class for the month of June. In fact, I will make more money from that income than I take home normally. Mrs. ROB as I mentioned only gets paid 9 months of the year. However, Mrs. ROB is an adjunct faculty member. She has to teach at two different places in order to make a normal full-time salary (luckily she does). Mrs. ROB is also going to get a class from one of those schools. I thought that she was starting that class this month, which means she would be paid in June and July.
WRONG! She actually doesn’t start until July. Thus, we don’t have any income from her side of things until that time frame. That leaves us about $1200-$1500 short for our normal bills, food, gas, etc.
The other little wrinkle is that because Mrs. ROB is considered to be a temporary faculty she is, in essence, laid off, which means she could apply for unemployment right? Wrong potentially again. For whatever reason, one of the universities Mrs. ROB works for has been fighting unemployment benefits for temporary part-time faculty. So there is no guarantee that she will get unemployment. If she does we will be ok.
If not? Well our emergency fund is only about $1000. We are going to be financially short by a little bit.
Add onto that that Mrs. ROB might not begin getting paid for her summer course until August. So July could be a repeat of June. The good thing is that there are 3 paychecks in July instead of two.
So remember that grandiose plan I had of paying off my personal loan by the end of June? I don’t think that will happen anymore. I will send regular payments, but I don’t think it is going to work. Moreover, most of my side hustle income doesn’t arrive until late August/September. So September will be great, but I need to hold off the financial wolves until that time.
What Do We Do?
To Mrs. ROB’s credit she isn’t just sitting around waiting for the next drop of rain. She actually interviewed for a nice little summer gig and hopes she gets it, but that wouldn’t start until July as well.
I think our best hope is to basically tread water. I mean we aren’t going to starve. We should, in combination with the little money I have put aside, be able to pay all of the bills. But if something happens well then we are screwed or we use credit cards again and I don’t want to go back to that place again.
My bigger concern is for the future. With the potentiality of having a family soon (no update on that I wish there was) I am more concerned about what do we do when this situation happens again and it will happen again either because of a reduced income because Mrs. ROB would like to stay at home with our children (which I support) or the need to pay more debt, etc.
It is something that definitely keeps me up at night.
For me there is a two-prong solution. First, when I do get extra money I need to pay off some of these debts (e.g. the personal loan and some of Mrs. ROB’s stuff…like her car) to reduce our monthly expenses. Second, I need to set aside a bigger emergency fund. In fact, I think that will be my next goal instead of accelerating the debt train I want to slow down and create a bigger reserve. I think I need to do that for my own piece of mind. Of course that is if I get enough money to do so.
And those of reading this I hope you know that this is no one’s fault but our own. We created this debt. It was my fault. I didn’t plan as well as I could have. I didn’t reduce debt as fast as I could have. I didn’t cut my lifestyle down to nothing. This is MY (OUR) fault. And the only way I know how to get out of this to make more money and reduce our debt. Who knows I might get another job. If that is the case so be it.
Sometimes you just have to tread water until a lifeline is thrown to you. I know I have a lifeline out there and it will come in September, but in the interim our arms are going to be awful tired treading water in this financial pool for the next couple of months.