One of the things that stresses me out the most is finances. At risk of exposing too much personal information I'm going to go ahead and admit that we live paycheque to paycheque with not too much in the savings department. And by "not too much" I mean thirty-five dollars. Of course there's the line of credit that we can lean on if push comes to shove but dipping into that does not bring about a great feeling.
There are reasons for us being in this situation and they start about five years ago with the setback of spending $20,000 on infertility treatments and then two back-to-back, year long maternity leaves where my income was 60% of my already modest wage. It then goes on with having two little kids and the costs associated with them (diapers, food, clothing, $DAYCARE$, etc). It's really hard to dig out from under something like this.
It often sets me on edge, knowing that we live like this. That if anything were to come up we could be in some trouble.
Well something has "come up".
As it turns out, when I returned from maternity leave back in June 2011, the company I work for did not properly set me up in the payroll system. There is a compulsory company pension program, of which employees have 5% of their pay automatically deducted from their paycheques and the company matches it. Except since June 2011 they have neglected to deduct my portion. I didn't notice. I rarely look at my pay stubs as I am on salary and my cheques are the exact same each pay. I very foolishly had blind faith that everything was accurate. (Big lesson learned there.)
The company discovered their error two weeks ago and advised me near the end of October, that I was required to pay them back over $2700 before the end of this year. The way it was presented to me felt very heavy handed.
I was pretty devastated. I called Employment Standards and asked if they could help. They told me that by law my employer couldn't take any money from my pay without my written permission and encouraged me to resolve the dispute on my own as benefits don't fall within their jurisdiction.
I had a conversation with our HR manager explaining to him that if the company went ahead and forced me to pay $2700 in two months that I would have to resign (after working there for 10 years) as I would no longer be able to afford to pay the $1300 a month that it costs to send my children to daycare. I pleaded for them to find a way for me to avoid paying this. I would be more than willing to forfeit this amount in my pension plan. And if that is absolutely not an option, I said I could only afford an extra $50 per pay but that I would need to get through Christmas first so the deductions couldn't start until January.
He said he would look into it and get back to me.
Nobody said anything about it for another week. Then I got my most recent pay stub a few days ago. Without discussing it with me any further, they went ahead and started taking my portion of the pension (5% of my earnings) plus $50. They refused to give me a grace period to get through Christmas and insinuated that I was lucky they weren't taking the much larger deductions to have it paid by the end of this year. Like I STOLE the money.
In the end, I am now bringing home THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS a month LESS than I have been in the past year and a half.
I feel like we already have operate on a fairly lean budget. I can't imagine where I'm going to find an extra $300 per month. Not to mention the feeling of being slapped in the face from the place I have given 10 hard working years to. There's also the feeling of having absolutely no power over a situation that greatly impacts me and my family.
The stress this has caused me is astronomical.
And I'm not entirely sure how to manage it.
All my standard tools for managing stress have been challenged. Since doing Whole30 I can no longer seek comfort in foods. Or drinks... And it's not like retail therapy (in any form) is an option. I'm not a yoga person. There is also no quiet time to sit and think (heaven forbid start a meditation practice) because I work full time, 24 hours a day. Even sitting and writing this post has been a challenge as the kids are loud and needy and my husband is lurking.
It feels really overwhelming and I am not sure how to manage but I know that somehow I must.
How do you manage stress when things get tough?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas...