Posted by Anonymous.
I don’t want to post this on my blog because it’s totally humiliating.
I got a phone call from my daughter’s school the other day. The teachers and staff wanted to add my kids’ names to the gift tree they do there every year. The guidance counselor said that she knew we were struggling and she wasn’t trying to insult me, but that she thought we could use the help.
I told her that I wasn’t insulted, just embarrassed. Because the thing is, she’s right.
We are broke. I bought some presents for my oldest last week because I’d had a little larger than expected paycheck. But I had to return them because we ran out of oil. And if you think that doesn’t suck, you don’t know jack. I hadn’t bought her much – pajamas, mostly, and a book. Nothing extravagant. But if I didn’t return them, we wouldn’t have eaten much beyond beans last week. So I took them back. What really sucked is that I bought them where I work, so, yeah. Fun.
I feel like I’ve really cut back a lot on our expenses. We never go out to eat. We may order a pizza once a month, but other than that, I cook every meal. I buy dried beans and cheap cuts of meat. We eat a lot of rice. I get my bread on the day-old shelf and buy produce from the about-to-go-off shelf. I obsessively check the grocery store ads for savings and will even go to the hated Wal-Mart if they have better prices. I bake my own bread and I don’t buy convenience foods. I buy 99% of the girls’ clothing at the Salvation Army and Goodwill. The only new things I’ve bought for myself in the last year are two bras and a package of underwear. We don’t rent movies, we don’t have NetFlix, we never go to see a film in the theatre. I don’t own a cell phone. I keep the heat at 64 and we all wear sweaters in the house. I never wash my clothes in hot water. I Freecycle like a madwoman. I haven’t been on a vacation of any sort in four years.
I could cancel cable and the internet, but I think I might kill myself if I didn’t have the internet. At $70 a month for both, it wouldn’t save us all that much anyway. I could hang my clothes to dry, but I have a very, very, very small house and three kids and a husband in plumbing. I do 4 or 5 loads of laundry a day – I don’t have the space to hang stuff inside in the winter.
I feel like such a failure. I’m not a stupid person. I have a part-time job, my husband has a decent job making decent money, but we can never seem to get ahead. We lost our house to foreclosure last year and are now renting in a rather sketchy city, somewhere more affordable than the college town we used to live in.
I don’t want to accept these gifts from my daughter’s school. I told the guidance counselor that I wanted us to be at the bottom of the list, that I’m sure there are other families out there in much more dire straits than we are in, who are in more need. She was very sympathetic and nice about it. I’m really hoping we don’t get anything – picking up charity gifts is going to break my heart.
But the upshot is that I can’t really afford Christmas for my kids. Sure, they’ll get some things and I don’t want it to be all about the presents, but still. It’s killing me.
(Ed. note - submitted before Christmas. I'm so sorry for these posting delays!)