Limited Resources and Hard Choices

We finished our taxes this weekend, and are getting a nice return. This is the one time of the year that having four kids, and not making much money, actually helps our finances. We are also getting ready to sell a car, since Tim now has one provided for work. Now, we are left with the dilemma of what to do with this money.

Part of the money is going into a savings account. We put some Christmas money in, and we've started putting a little away each month. We want to top it off with part of the tax return. While we do have some investments, we have never kept a savings account before. Our logic was that we would be further ahead to pay off debt, than to keep money in savings. That is true on paper, but it is disheartening to pay down debt consistently, to suddenly have the balance jump back up for a car repair or other "unexpected" expense.

We have used our credit cards as our backup. It has to stop. We drive older cars. Car repairs should not be considered "unexpected." Tim is partially paid in commission. Income fluctuation should not be "unexpected." Keeping the savings account will help us meet those needs while consistently paying down debt.

Part of the money (Along with ebay and other money we have made outside of our normal income) will be used for a frugal vacation. We are going to the Outer Banks with some friends. We will be sharing a house and cooking there mostly. We haven't had a vacation in about three years. Why do I feel the need to justify taking a vacation?

What else should we do with the money? I had my heart set on a different vehicle, but some of our van's issues have been fixed, and I am wondering if we should wait a little longer for a different vehicle. Why wait? So, we could use the money elsewhere.

Some other things it could be used for: paying down debt, a different washer, or putting it toward building our house. A different washer is something we have been talking about for awhile. Our current machine has a small capacity (we are a family of six!) and does not do a good job of spinning the water out. A larger, better machine would save us money in the long run. We would buy used. This would only take portion of the money, so we could also do something else.

Putting it toward our house. We want to build an underground home. The time frame for that keeps changing. Time and money are issues here. Obviously, we wouldn't have enough to build now, but we could get the road to the site built and save some for future use.

In my heart of hearts, I know paying off debt is what we should do with the money. We are reaping what we've sown there, and it hurts. I don't want to put this money toward debt, I want to enjoy it. Yes, a washer, a road or a van would be enjoyable for me. Sending a check to a bank, not so much!

What will we do? I'm not sure, but my guess is we will wait for the vehicle. Replacing it just takes up too many resources, and begrudgingly, I'll admit it is still usable. In my opinion, all the other choices are a fit for our frugal lifestyle, but resources are limited. That is what makes the choice hard.

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