Sunday, June 12, 2011

Magic money, and other stories

It's been a mixed mood at Chez MIA recently.

Just last weekend, we were living it up on the Sunshine Coast, thanks to the lovely peeps at Atlantis Marcoola Resort, who put us up in a very swish, super comfortable apartment overlooking the ocean.

For a couple of moments there, I forgot I was broke, and occasionally threw caution to the wind.

Pizza for dinner? Why not! Hiring a tinny for a couple of hours? I don't mind if I do.

It was when I was trying to phone the boat hire place to let them know we were stuck in the middle of the Maroochy River, that I realised my financial situation was more dire than I had thought.

Not enough credit on my mobile. Fine, I'd recharge it. Except that both my credit card, and my debit card, were declined.


Luckily, the boat hire dude spotted us floating helplessly in the water (turns out neither Mr 10 nor I had enough muscles to pull the anchor up. D'oh), and we were towed back to shore. Just a little embarassing.

On the way home, two exhausted but happy kids slept, while I puzzled how my bank account had diminished so dramatically.

Having the kids full-time but only being paid maintenance for part-time care didn't help. (I did ask their father to consider allowing me access to money we have in the bank - it's two to sign - but I won't tell you what he said. Yes, I know I can go through the CSA for help, and I will, but I'd hoped to avoid all that).

Shelling out for new school uniforms and winter clothes wasn't cheap, even though we shop at op shops and chain stores wherever we can.

Then we had all been sick, which meant doctor's visits and medications, some of which aren't on the PBS. (Thank goodness our GP bulkbills the kids).

And let's see, there's rent, car rego and insurance all due.

Oh, and did I mention the electricity and water? Yeah that's gonna hurt.

And so it was that there was no money left in my purse or in my bank account. And there wouldn't be until Thursday.

(I was not even going to think about how that would barely cover the groceries, let alone the bills, I just focused on getting from A to B.)

Miss 10 desperately needed a new pair of school shoes. I scrounged together $10 in the ash try in the car - magic money, a bonus! And thanks to the magic of K-Mart we walked out with a new pair of comfy school shoes. Thank God for K-Mart!

Another $8 or so was in coins at the bottom of my handbag. That bought bread and milk.

Luckily, we'd been to the markets a few days earlier, so had stocked up on fruit and vegies then.

Then I hit the pantry and freezer. Luckily, I usually buy staples when they're on special. It's an affliction I get form my Dad, but this time, it served me well.

There was meat - and more bread - in the freezer, plus some leftover Japanese Curry and lasagne I'd frozen a few weeks early.

In the pantry, we had apple juice, tinned fruit, tinned spaghetti, pasta and noodles.

It's all pretty much been used up now. Which makes me feel good, because there's nothing getting wasted in the cupboards, but yes, the knowledge is there that I'll have to replace at least some of it.

Everything possible was made from scratch. I even rustled up honey joys and weetbix slice one morning for the kids, as quick fillers for the lunch box. I know they're sweet, but so are muesli bars, and at least I get some carbs into Mr 10 that way.

There was no money for tuck-shop, but I managed to find a few more coins down the back of the lounge. That gave them .50 cents each for an ice-block one day, and a slush puppy after school on Treat Thursday. (I didn't want the kids to go completely without, and I don't want them worrying about money.)

So that was how we managed to get through the week without money.

In my younger days, I would have found magic money in other handbags or winter coats. I don't really go out much these days, so it wasn't worth even looking.

Now I have kids, it's the car ashtray, the couch, and the bottom of my handbag.

Readers does magic money exist at your place, and where's the best place to look?

(Disclosure: No kids' money boxes were harmed in the making of this post).

A little more of this would have been nice ...but we'll need some more Magic Money for that!


Alice Shaw said...

Been there! There is a lot said about divorced parents working things out, avoiding lawyers, the CSA etc but that only works when BOTH parents are on board. If you have your own money, that your ex is denying you, then you can take steps with the bank and a well worded solicitor's letter to access your half. Go the CSA. They are pretty useless but you shouldn't have to scrounge like that. Well done though! I've done the behind the couch thing.. and, sadly, the kid's money boxes. But I always replace it!

ClaireyHewitt said...

My magic money seems to always be gone these days. But this last fortnight we tried a new savings plan and found ourselves very very tight. The idea was to pay off some debt when we got paid rather than the end of the fortnight where we just pay what we can. Bugger! Pizza night on Friday I did toast with tomato sauce, grated cheese and some tin pineapple. However the kids LOVED it. Ate heaps. So budget meals are not all bad.

traceyb65 said...

after a shocking run with home repairs, we stupidly emptied the last of our savings. then my work dried up … luckily, all that extra free time allowed me to spend time of the phone ringing each and every service to beg for extensions. can't tell you how good MOST of them were, even allowing us hardship holidays for up to three months.

there were nights when i lay awake too scared to breathe in case i accidentally spent something … and every coin that appeared was indeed magic.

it took a year to get on top, and another year to get enough ahead that another urgent repair wouldn't dump us on our arse. i don't want to go back there again, but there is no guarantee, ever, that bad things won't happen to good people.

get what you deserve, Bronnie, no matter what it takes. you ex doesn't deserve to have that power over you. keep a diary of when you are caring for your kids if it is more than you are paid for. did you say he is OVERSEAS? how did he pay for that, FFS, while you scrape down the back of the couch.

ok, rant over … can you see it makes me cranky? xt

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sorry to hear that you've been having some financial problems. I hope things right themselves soon and the bank balance goes the other way. And whenever there is Mr NQN there are coins that fall from his pockets. He has this thing against putting his coins away so I always take them!

vegemitevix said...

As you know I know this plight well, except I was still married to him when he left the country and left me with $2 in my bank account. I had to ask my Dad to fund us - the baby needed nappies! I remember Christmases and Easters without money. I remember breaking the piggy bank and scrambling together bits of magic money to buy essentials like bread. I used to make my own bread at one stage and relied heavily on a really good cookbook called Destitute Gourmet (I'll find details on Amazon and send them to you). You need to get onto the authorities hun, even though you don't want the unpleasantness, but you have to for the kids' sake. Hang in there Vix xx

Unknown said...

I am seriously impressed you made it through the week with only scrounged coins! Well done you. My "magic money" usually comes out of the dryer (finders keepers), the ashtray of the car or the coin jar on top of the fridge. The latter is SUPPOSED to be for saving for a holiday, but we raid it all the time to go buy McFlurries... O_o

Fox in the City said...

I agree, I am impressed that you made it through a week with just magic money.

The ashtray in the car tends to where I find money . . . just enough for a coffee when need be.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea, I really should get on the computer more often. I am very proud of you for getting through the week, it can be so stressful. Your kids are very lucky to have you for their mum (I can't believe you even got them treats). Go Bronwyn!. Amber

boomerang jane said...

Well done you. As a divorced Mum who only works part-time so that I can still spend quality time with my kids I live like this most weeks. But most of the time it feels good because I am living within my means whilst paying a mortgage & making sure the kids don't do without too much. Keep up the great job of being there for the kids and creating a beautiful family dynamic.

Glow said...

Ugh it's such a sinking feeling when you realize just how little you have in your account... being on a boat I bet that sinking feeling would have been extra daunting :P

Magic money isn't around much these days, but back in the clubbing days I found $50 in my winter jacket that had been sitting there for a year. 5 cocktails later and it was gone. I'd spend it rather differently now if I found $50!!