We’ve had a rough week with cars. The rear brakes on one of them were really, really bad. (We didn’t know how bad until we took it in.) On the same car, a nail had punctured the tire. After we got that one all taken care of, the new-to-us one had a domino-effect catastrophe. The hazard light button popped off (no joke,) which meant the hazards couldn’t be turned off. At least not by us. We tried for over two hours. So they were on all night until we could get someone to look at it, which we knew would inevitably lead to a dead battery. The next morning we went to put the key in to see if it would start. It, unsurprisingly, did not. What was surprising was that the key wouldn’t come back out of the ignition.
I wanted to scream.
Luckily, we have a mechanic in the family. We’ve had to utilize his services more than I’d care to admit. And he has saved us so much money. We still pay him for his labor (at a rate that’s unfairly discounted.) And for the parts, which he also gets extremely discounted because of the nature of his profession. When I pay him, I try to pay more than he asks for because I know darn well that he’s probably saved us cumulatively thousands of dollars over the years. (I can’t profess to know if my husband does the same, but even if we both do, it’s still not equivalent to what he should be making off of our automotive misfortunes.)
He does it because we’re family. And he’s a good guy. For both we’re eternally grateful.
This nightmare of a week has gotten me to thinking about what I offer my family. Other than love and the privilege of being able to brag that they’re related to me. (Which of course, I’m being sarcastic about.) Does our relationship pay off monetarily?
It shouldn’t have to. That’s not what love and family is about. But all the generosity of our mechanic relative makes me want it to. Embarrassingly enough, I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t. My specialized profession can offer them nothing of service. Grandparents watch our kids for free when we need a sitter. There’s all these things I want to do for everyone, but I find that my time (and toddlers) constrain me.
I’ve also come to the realization that that excuse is BS. We make time for the things we value in life. And I haven’t been valuing contributing to my extended family. It’s got to stop.
I need to make time to go over and help out family members when they need it. I could possibly take a cousin for a sleepover so the family doesn’t have to pay for a sitter to get out. While the husband does pseudo-regularly take family members who don’t have a car to the grocery store, we could do this more often or for more things they need access to. I could allocate a portion of the ridiculous amount we’ve been saving for a house to help family members out when they’re struggling.
Because saving for a house is our goal. But we’re not doing it alone. The mechanic is saving us money to throw at savings via auto repairs. The grandparents are giving us free sitting. My sibling often takes me out to lunch just so I can have a couple hours of grown-up time without “work” being the excuse that gets me out of the house.
I’m a bit disgusted about the amount of taking I’ve been doing. The minuscule amount of giving back I found when I really sat down and analyzed it was shocking. While saving for a home is important to us, so are the amazing people we’re lucky enough to be related to. I can take time away from additional work to pull my weight more. I can put up with a slight delay of our timeline for buying a house if it means getting someone out of a financial conundrum once in a while.
I have a great village. But I need to reciprocate.
How does contributing to your community (whether it be a family, neighborhood, circle of friends, or some formal organization) compete with your individual goals? Are you pulling your weight or is there more you can do?