Should I be blogging about this? I kind of feel like I shouldn’t blogging about this, but hey, you know, it’s my life, it is what it is.

So, anyhoo, those of you who have been reading for awhile know that I am a stay at home mom and my husband is furloughed.  What this means is that he has to take an unpaid vacation day for the first three Fridays of every month – it amounts to a 15% percent pay cut.

Which honestly, suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.  I have tried (and most likely failed) to not complain about this too much, because I don’t want this blog to turn into Whine O Rama 2010, because we are still VERY lucky compared to most of the world in MANY MANY ways, and because I am a stay at home mom and so that means some sacrifices financially and I just am not in the mood to hear “Why don’t you get a job” over and over again, and because inevitably when you mention furloughs, people who don’t know the whole story like to say things about how we all have to make sacrifices in a bad economy and how if everyone isn’t furloughed then people will have to get laid off, etc etc etc.  This is, patently, not the case – when they say California is in bad shape econonomically, or that the state budget is screwed, or that people might get laid off, what they are talking about is the GENERAL FUND money that pays some state workers. My husband is NOT paid out of this fund, he’s paid out of fee based funds.  Those funds are now just sitting there, because they aren’t legally allowed to be reallocated anywhere else.  In fact, it doesn’t save anyone any money to furlough non general fund workers, because they 1. aren’t doing work that generates funds, 2. they aren’t spending that money they aren’t making in the community or paying taxes on it, and 3. the state may have to pay that money back, with interest, OUT OF THE GENERAL FUND, if the furloughs are ruled illegal.

The only justification for these furloughs is that “everyone” should bear the burden of a bad economy so it “feels fair”,  and a judge has already ruled that this isn’t a valid legal argument, but then there are appeals to a higher court and all these things take FOREVER.  Just yesterday, the non general fund furloughs were ruled illegal and workers were told to go back to work, and now we’re waiting to find out if this ruling is going to stick, or if another appeal will leave us all still waiting.

Regardless, we get by.  We don’t go hungry.  But 15% of anyone’s salary is a big pay cut, and we budgeted what we could afford for our mortgage based on what we thought Mr. E was going to get paid, so at this point, there’s not a lot of extra cash floating around.  It’s frustrating because we followed all the rules and were broke students for YEARS so my husband could get his PhD, so that some day we didn’t have to count every dime.  And it’s frustrating because it feels like we’re political pawns, not like we’re making a sacrifice for any reason – no one isn’t getting laid of because my husband took a huge pay cut.

However, crazy as this is, in  some ways, honestly, the furloughs have been good.  It’s been really nice to have my husband home for three Fridays every month, and I can’t even BEGIN to tell you the vast amount of useless crap I probably would have deemed TOTALLY necessary a few years ago – this has been such a great lesson in distinguishing between “need”, “want”, and “nice to have.”  I have a list of 102 things that I’d really like to own, and probably only 1o things on that list are actual needs.  We’ve gotten really good at saving money on groceries, and hair cuts, and we get all of our books from the library, and we have one car and a very small house and generous parents.  And I am SO happy, I can’t even tell you, that I’ve been forced to think twice about all the stuff that seems so important and isn’t, really.   Like I said, we’re not going hungry, there’s just not a lot for extras.   But  sometimes, unfortunately, going without the extras all the time gets a little tired.

So.  If the  blasted furloughs ever end (please god, let them end), there’s some things I’d really like to buy.  And there are some things I’d really like to do.

1. I would really like to sometimes, just sometimes, shop in the fancy grocery store.

2. I’d like to go to Anthropologie and buy some girly shirts, maybe a new dress.

3. I’d like to take a trip to the Baby Gap outlet and buy some tiny overpriced “she’s never going to wear those” dresses.

4. I’d like to get Eli some new shoes that didn’t come from Ebay.

5. I’d like to get some new patio furniture.

6. I’d like to take my kids to Disneyland and my husband to the beaches in L.A. –  my favorite beaches in all the world.

7. I’d like to send people presents or flowers or Etsy stuff whenever I felt like it. I miss being a free wheeling gift giver.

8.  I’d like to get my dog a new dog bed, even if she is pain in my ass.

9.  I’d like new chairs for my living room.

10. I would really love to refinish the floors in my house and buy a new front door, finally.

11.  I would love to buy new every day silverware and a coffee maker (instead of a french press).  Maybe get some new dishtowels.

12. I’d love to get a composter.  And I want to try out those Bum Genius diapers.  And I want to buy Mr. E  a fancy mail order ham.

12a. I want to go to the farmer’s market every Sunday and buy flowers and the fancy olive oil and the $5 butter, and I want to go to one fancy dinner with my husband.

13.  And for sure, I’d like a new car that does not involve bending over and heaving my child in the general direction of his car seat while hoping to god I can somehow find the will to stand back up when the heaving is over with.


7 Responses

  1. That sounds really, really tough. 😦 I’m so sorry you’re going through this. How nice that you are finding so many positives in the experience. I hope that everything gets resolved quickly so you can get some of those things on your list!

  2. Anthropologie? NAH… save your money on that one. The rest of your wants seem reasonable to me. Not extravagant at all. Let’s hope the furlough goes away soon.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  3. I feel you on the money cutbacks. I got laid off last June and we made the decision that my husband would go back to work (he had been staying home with our daughter) so that I could be a stay at home mom. It is definitely what I want, and I’m grateful that my husband found a job in this awful economy, BUT. I was a chemical engineer in the oil and gas industry. I made pretty good money. My husband works in construction so his salary is only like 60% of what mine was.

    So yeah. Things that would have been “needs” are now only “wants.” Here’s hoping the furloughs end. And my husband gets a 40% raise. HA HA! I’ll just get my practice at budgeting I guess:)

  4. YES. We are in a similar boat right now though at least ours is self-imposed since Torsten DECIDED to quit his job and start his own company. But it’s the little things that bother me. Like, there was this dress at Old Navy for EIGHT DOLLARS and I couldn’t bring myself to fork over the cash for it. And I really liked it. EIGHT DOLLARS.

    Which is to say, I am REALLY looking forward to having two incomes again at some point. Even if Torsten is earning only a little bit, and much less than he earned before. ANYTHING.

  5. I am feeling even MORE fortunate that such a lovely little gift showed up in my mailbox this week. You are the best.

  6. Totally understand — especially about the car. I never thought I’d want a bigger car, but now I have kids — and can’t stomach the idea of taking on a car payment — it is tempting.

  7. i’m there with you. it’s not bad to have to cut back for a little while but it’s the NEVER being able to splurge (on things like the $8 outfit at baby Gap) that gets hard. but like you said, we’ve never gone hungry and actually i feel like our lives are richer by figuring out our money priorities.

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