One of our lovely neighbours is moving. In fact, two are. Don’t worry, it’s not Samuel and his family, nor anyone in our house. Samuel’s family’s lot is divided into two, and there’s a sweet little yellow house in his back yard. The owners have lived there forever, are retired, and seemed to enjoy the urban life. However they have decided, for their own reasons, to move to the Sunshine Coast. On the other side, one of the condos is up for sale. I’m not certain which one, though I’m sure I’ll find out on the weekend.
House selling, and neighbours moving, has been the major talk around here. Phil and Maite are close friends with Gordon and Hal, the couple who are moving, and they’re more than a little surprised about this change.
All of a sudden, our little apartment wasn’t quite so great in my eyes any more, because I’m renting it. Okay, there are other problems with it too. But I would so love to own. I know, I know, you’re then paying mortgage, utilities, probably condo fees, and taxes. You then have upkeep to pay for. Unless you’ve got a crazy amount of money, you’re then in serious debt long-term. The attraction for me, beyond the satisfaction of knowing you OWN the place (even if really, the bank does), is that in the end you have something. When you rent, you’re just tossing away money.
So out of curiosity I pulled up some web-based calculators, to investigate, on my lunch hour. I also opened up the MLS listings.
And my heart fell so fast I swear it’s still three stories under the basement of the hospital I work in.
One of the realities of being a single parent is that there’s just the one income. Sure, there’s also only one adult to feed and clothe and entertain. Still! (Okay, lightening thought here, it could be worse. I could be a parent with a partner who refuses to haul his own weight and hates the idea of ever doing anything considered responsible like buying a home, constantly fighting about it, and being miserable. I’ve had a glimpse of that future. This is far better. )
My first reaction was that right now I’m not saving, so there’s no way that, even if I do qualify for the assistance available for some through the university (I don’t think I do), I’ll be able to afford a place. Ever. If I could, then it’d be some hole-in-the-wall awful looking place so far out of town I’d get home at night just in time to turn around to go back to work.
A few things have cheered me up, though.
1) Despite slightly reduced prices around here, now is likely not a great time to buy. Give things a little bit of time after the Olympics, and maybe … just maybe there’ll be another drop.
2) There will be a narrow window of opportunity for pretty good savings, when Cameron’s daycare expenses drop, and before he’s a teenager and his food consumption skyrockets.
3) While I’m making better money at my current position than I did before, I’m still struggling. But in a matter of weeks my first raise kicks in. I probably won’t stay there forever – and hopefully any step I take will be an increase in pay as well. What I mean is, my current income isn’t the endpoint.
4) I do not live like I am someone who is trying to save money. I’m not coming home with a new wardrobe every month or anything like that, but there are many areas where I spend far more money than I need to. I eat at the cafeteria at work far too often. I buy lattes. I buy more groceries than we eat (horribly wasteful on so many levels). I don’t search for sales at the grocery store – if I want something, I buy it.
Those first three items are waiting game things. Future occurrences that I have little to no control over, now or ever. It’s the things that influence my life that I have no control over that cause me much stress. Notice number four though? That’s right. That’s stuff I have control over, in theory.
It’s time to get back into the money thing. I know myself. I’m not going to be able to resist the occasional sushi or pizza, and cutting our morning coffee stop out just is not going to happen. There’s a point where the screaming for hot chocolate just isn’t worth it. But … I did cut back on lattes in the past. I can do it again. It’s time to track my spending habits – luckily I do almost everything by interac, so there’s a record of where I spend all of my money. I’ll look back to the beginning of June, and evaluate the first ten days. Then it’ll be time to implement a spending-reduction plan, and maybe open up a savings account. Don’t get too excited … I’ve done this stress-thing before and it’s had little effect on my habits. So let’s just see where this goes.
I know I won’t be able to buy for a long, long, long time. That cute yellow house with the awesome neighbours will just have to wait. In the meantime, this is an adventure, right? And this will give me more incentive to find cheap or free adventures for me and Cameron this summer.