Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Hockey, No Sharks, No Money

So, the NHL in all of its infinite wisdom has locked out its players for the second time in 8 years. We can all commiserate and sit around and complain how much we, as fans, miss the game, berate all those involved and try fill the void in our miserable hockey-less existence. But what about the rest of us? Not only is my family big fans, we also depend on the game for a big chunk or our income. My husband has been working at HP Pavilion as a bartender since 2006. The San Jose Sharks play 41 home games there a year. Adding up his wages and tips that is over $10,000 in income we are losing. And that is not even counting the playoffs. The deeper this team gets into the playoffs the bigger the tips are from happy club-level season ticket holders. From late September into late May we make enough supplemental income to carry us through the summer months (of no hockey) and are still able to keep up with our bills and a little something put aside for the family and household (last year we remodeled our kitchen).

I paid careful attention during the summer to talks and rumors of a lockout. Considering the NBA just went through this last season and the NHL just went through it 8 years ago (don't even get me started on the NFL replacement refs fiasco) I though it was highly unlikely that a strike/lockout /work stoppage would occur.  I was, obviously, wrong. We are now mid way through November which is normally the second full month of games. All games through the end of the month have thus far been cancelled. Tomorrow night, which should be a heated game versus our hated rival the Dallas Stars... is for not. On this night I should be making dinner for my family, enjoying a glass of wine and turning on the TV to watch Randy and Drew call the game on Comcast Bay Area.

Do you know what I'll be doing instead? I will be working at BevMo!. It will be my first shift. I have to help make ends meet, so I took a part-time job. I won't even go into how expensive it is to live here, you'll just have to take my word for it that two full time incomes is not enough for a family of four to get by on. Not with a mortgage and a couple of unfortunate financial choices from our past that we are dealing with.

On a positive note, this situation has made me rip the bandages off, so to speak, and really take a hard look at our finances and deal with where we are headed and what we can do to better our circumstances. I had a severe eye opener when I checked out the balance on our HELOC. We have been paying the minimum on this thing for the last 5 years and the balance has not gone down. At all. We have paid around $15,000 (in the last 60 months) to have our principal balance go down by a mere $250. I was so depressed when that sunk in. We have credit card balances, all with different rates, balances and credit limits. Needless to say I have been doing a lot of number crunching and consolidating in the last few weeks to try and make things work on the income that we have. We are trying to re-finance our first mortgage as well, but that might be in jeopardy unless we get a good number back from the appraiser. Fingers crossed.

So? Basically I've been juggling a lot of financial balls lately. I wish they were pucks, but I digress. Until the pucks start flying again I'll be at BevMo!, hawking alcohol to patrons for the holidays and to the community of sad/pissed-off hockey fans who will be drowning their sorrows this winter.