How Much Will This Cost Me

sinkWe came home from church and had no water pressure. The pump was running and was hot to the touch, so I pulled the breaker and shut it off. When you decide to live in a rural location, things like this pop up from time to time. The last time was a couple of years ago. Some small pebbles and some grit had plugged the impeller on the pump. With some acceptable aggravation and about $300, the pump was repaired and things were back to normal the same day. This time it may not be that simple. Last time there was some discussion about digging up the yard and needing to pull the lines to correct a possible faulty screen at the bottom of the water line in the well. That exercise would have been very expensive.

A few days before Christmas is not when unannounced repairs should show up. We had the same problem occur almost 40 years ago in another home – 2 days before Christmas. The entire system was replaced, from the well to the water heater. It took most of the next year for our family of six to recover from that surprise. Our food budget was $40 a week before the expense and probably a little less after it. You could get a few more groceries back then for $40 than you can now, but every dollar mattered. That was also about the point in our lives when I was buying and selling vehicles as fast as I could turn the titles to try and make a few extra bucks. I would buy a car for $400-$500, clean it up as best I could, and try to sell it for $600-$700. My family used to laugh whenever we pulled into their driveway because they wanted to see what I was driving each time. I had bought and sold some that they never had a chance to see, so it was a running joke in the family. If I could make $150-$200, that would put food on the table for a month. My point is, I had to be willing to do what I had to so things might change and circumstances might improve.

Unlike the old westerns, the cavalry wasn’t going to ride over the hill and save us.

Living from paycheck to paycheck or less is a reality for thousands of families in this county. You probably know people who are in this circumstance, or you may be one of those people. This cycle looks to have little hope in changing unless better job prospects through education and training come into play. After that happens, is relocation required to find that better more sustainable opportunity or is it here?

I believe most people are willing to help others who are trying to help themselves, but certainly more could be done by both parties. We are a very generous people, but also very spoiled. Living beyond our means has been an occasional pitfall for almost everyone, including me. When we won’t reduce our wants closer to our needs, the idea of helping someone else seems too far from our grasp. Likewise, when we work using one hand while the other is extended to ask for help, we might not need as much help if we used them both. Immediate assistance for immediate circumstances clearly must be met, even if prioritized like a triage unit. Longer term solutions must be developed for self-sustainability or the line to the triage unit will never get any shorter. I may need to find a longer term solution to my “plumbing” dilemma.


Written by Tim Kean

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