It's a battle against my lack of self-discipline. Self discipline is my ally, if only I choose to employ it.
It's a battle against the world, against circumstance, against chance. Chance is sort of unpredictable (hence the name) and that makes it a tough enemy. Do you take a risk, take advantage of an opportunity to knock down a debt and risk having Chance come through and kick your ass, or do you play it conservative, pay slowly, and try to cover your ass?
Every time I start to feel like I've turned the tide and started winning the war, I get fucked. I let my self discipline go on vacation, or chance kicks my ass, or, like this time, both. Every goddamned time.
I've been fighting this war since I was old enough to make my own money and I've been losing the whole time. Struggling just to keep alive. Looking for advantages, considering strategies. Looking for an edge, some way to earn superiority over the enemy, which is money. I now keep a checking account only for the bills that have to be mailed, and everything else I do with cash. I do better that way.
But nothing I do works. My quality of life slowly goes up to what I consider acceptable, but I never seem to get anywhere. Five years ago I was living in a studio apartment with no tv, no phone, and no furniture save for a box springs and mattress which sat on the floor. The apartment had a leaky roof and cockroaches. The faucet dripped and the refrigerator was empty. I was lucky my car never broke down during that time.
Now I live in a two-bedroom duplex with a full finished basement. We have three TVs, a PS2, a computer, two digital cable boxes that get all the HBOs and Showtimes and Cinemaxes, a full refrigerator and freezer, and (almost) all the furniture we need. I make almost double what I made when I lived in the studio. But I'm still deep in the trenches, fighting this goddamned war.
It doesn't help that my fiancee doesn't understand the concept of being nickel-and-dimed to death. I tell her we're $1000 short this paycheck and she wants to go to Wendy's for lunch.
Sure, most of the situation is predictable, and with those patterns staying consistent I could make it. But I don't count on a car costing me $300 out of nowhere. I don't count on buying a DOG on impulse. (These are why I'm screwed this time.) Of course there's the argument that these chance, random occurrences can be predicted to happen with a certain degree of regularity and that they should be prepared for, but then again you come into the question of how to play it. Do you save $500 and have it sitting around waiting for an emergency (probably the right thing to do) or do you throw an extra couple hundred bucks at the credit cards in an effort to maybe make one of them finally go away (what I always do)?
There has got to be another strategy. There has got to be something I can do without having to get a 50% raise all at once that will get me out of this shit.