I wasn’t going to write about finances, because finances are boring and poverty is boring and experiencing new lows is boring.

But if I don’t, I won’t blog, because it is the biggest thing, pretty  much the only thing, to get real estate in my brain. So, to get it out of the way…

By the time I was in my 40s, I planned to finish graduate school and possibly teach. (In those days I planned on a PhD, not a JD, and teaching college, not a ten-year-old.) But close enough.

I was not counting on learning how unemployment insurance (total: $1736 per month) or food stamps ($46 per month–no, really, a month) work.

Or rather how they don’t work, since rent is $1300, health insurance is $950, the power bill is $123, the phone/internet is $145…and so on. Fortunately I’d paid the car insurance premiums for six months, so we don’t have to worry about that for a little while, and pH was already signed up for two swim sessions and one week of camp.

Because I am the one who holds things together, I spin things to cheer the others up. How fortunate kH is to have summer days with pH, since normally he wouldn’t. How fortunate we are to have a chance to reset our consumer spending habits (although admittedly, since we’ve lived on one income in Portland for 7 years, we already knew how to do poor. Just not $46/month for food poor. For three people.)

I never thought I would sell a pair of shoes to buy groceries, but now I have. I spin it as “Kon-Mari on steroids.” Food sparks more joy than footwear, and heck, there’s more room in the closet.

Even though it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest all the time (panic attacks), I am good about counting blessings. I should be. It’s a line item in my daily to-do list and my habit tracking chart.

(If anyone could organize their way out of poverty, I think I could. I have lists for lists and charts for charts. Everything is color coded and annotated.)

More blessings:

We have health care until the end of the month, when it becomes a luxury we can’t afford. (I wish I could have avoided verbal and email abuse from my ex-boss, but the project he dropped in my lap paid for July’s health care insurance, and my motion-winning streak remains intact. Unfortunately, that’s it for billables.)

pH is healthy and reasonably happy, for a tween. kH has prospects. I repeat to myself that this will come to an end and if money is the worst problem we have, surely things are pretty good. (That line worked a lot better when we had more than $430/week coming in.)

pH, who is much fonder of finding my faults than my virtues, told me I looked like a superhero in my swimsuit. (I don’t.) I’m playing the piano all the time now, which turns out to be a decent way to put myself in the moment. (I am also really looking forward to being able to get the piano tuned, because the low D and G are so flat that I cringe every time I hit them. I will definitely appreciate having the piano tuned later, vs. when money isn’t so dear.)

The ferret continues to be delightful. See? He’s using a research binder as a tunnel. Aw…

So, there we are. That’s it in a nutshell. Panic attacks, lists, and lots of bank-balance checking. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but at least my Leuchtturm is looking spiffy.