Well shoot. I forgot to pay our HOA dues this month. They’re due by the 15th, and if they’re not paid by then, there’s a $25 late fee. Which I will be paying tomorrow, along with the actual dues. That is a big fat bummer, but it’s also shown me that we’re in a much better place financially than we used to be, and that I’ve got a much better relationship with money than I used to have. When I realized today that we were going to have to fork over the $25 late fee, my first thought was something not suitable to repeat on a family-friendly blog. But my second thought was something along the lines of “oh well – if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’m having a pretty good day.”
I can remember a few years ago – when we were at the height of our debt – we got a $20 parking ticket. I think I cried for about an hour that night. We were working so hard to get out of debt, and I was crushed when we got that ticket. But no matter how much debt you’re in, $20 is not worth crying over (and wasting an evening being bummed). At that time, I was obsessed with getting out of debt. I thought about money all the time – how to earn it, how to save it, how to not spend it. And small setbacks seemed like huge obstacles. Now that we’re out of debt (except for the mortgage), I still think a lot about money. But it’s much more positive thoughts these days. Funding our son’s 529 plan, adding to our emergency fund, paying extra on our mortgage, saving for retirement – these absolutely give me pleasure. But I think that my level of obsessiveness about the whole thing has come down a notch or two.
Mistakes happen. We all make them. Forgetting to pay the HOA was a mistake, but I’m not going to freak out about it like I would have three years ago. I’m looking at the bright side – at least it wasn’t the mortgage or the credit card bill. This won’t be reported on our credit history, there will be no black mark out there against us – I’ll just go pay the dues and the late fee, and carry on with my life. We don’t get a bill from our HOA – we just have to remember to pay it every month. And they don’t do automatic bank drafts or credit card payments… I just have to take them a check. I have it written on my calendar, but I just missed it this month. Life goes on. Sure, I wish I could spend that $25 on something else. But I can’t. So there’s no use being sad about it. There will be days in the future when I’ll wish that the worst thing that happened to me was a $25 late fee from our HOA. So while I’m still my same frugal self, I no longer obsess about money the way I used to. And for that, I’m proud of myself.