The Extra Day

Because the economy stinks, I have had one extra day of freedom a week for the last four months.

“An extra day of freedom” sounds so much better than the more accurate title, “one less day of paid work,” doesn’t it? I think so. And frankly, there are times I need all the perception-shifting encouragement I can get.

Like when the car payment is due. Or the phone bill, or my student loan payment, or when we have to turn down another offer to go out for dinner or drinks with friends. About once a month, the panic sets in, and the husband steps in to talk me out of the trees. We then spend a few (for me, unsteady) hours reviewing all our bills and bank accounts, clipping coupons, and making another list of what we can do without and what unused furniture or electronics we can sell (anyone need an office chair? DVD player?).

But… here’s the thing. I panic once or twice a month for a few hours. That’s nothing, really. And –without fail– that panic resolves itself in a flurry of activity that should be happening anyway. Out of this stressful time, the husband and I are working together to learn good habits, y’know? Planning ahead for meals, shopping the sales, and –the hardest part– paying closer attention to our budget. Admittedly, that last needs the most work. But we’re trying.

And, as it happens, that extra day actually came at a decent time. The husband has a between-shows summer job, and we have no house payments, no kids, and only one car loan. We can still go to the movies, or to a friend’s concert, or grab dinner if we’re out and about. Just a little bit less often.

In some ways, you could even say the Extra day came at Just the Right Time. I’ve been struggling with where and how I want to spend the hours of my life, professionally and creatively… more theatre work? Traveling? Finally finish and submit all these poems I’ve been working? Try some more freelancing?

With my extra day, a lot of that has become more possible. I’ve had the freedom to spend more time writing and visiting my family. We spent a day in Portland. I’ve written new music on my extra days and taken longer walks. I’ve also slept in more, read more, relaxed more, cleaned more, and cooked more meals. My extra day also allowed me to work on my first feature-length independent film– an endeavor from which I’ve learned so much, and which never would have worked with my regular 40-hour week. All of those little extras are blessings to me.

So. You know what? We are doing alright.

I tell myself that often, and it is true. Even when it seems so tight I’m gasping a bit, I can’t ignore the very simple truth that we have so much more than so many others. And yes, we are doing alright.

*     *    *     *     *

Addendum: The same day I posted this, our accounts manager came over to my desk “with good news and bad news.” Bad news: There has been an issue in our new system for logging hours. Good news: They weren’t paying me enough!

We won’t be buying the husband’s new camaro anytime soon (oh, how he dreams), but we can put a nice chunk of change into savings… finally. Even better: It does help to explain why I was having such trouble managing monthly expenses.

Hooray! Maybe I’m not a spendthrift after all!


One thought on “The Extra Day

  1. All SO familiar, including the frequent panics and the slow-arriving realization that less money coming in doesn’t necessarily mean the end of life as we know it. When you come right down to it, it’s amazing how much we can do without — and how much freedom that gives us to do other, more necessary (and sometimes more fun!) things.

    I’m working on it.

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