Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Money, Money, Money...

1/2 & 1/2
My deodorant
Dishwasher detergent
Dish soap
Canned veggies: carrots, green beans, butter beans
Frozen veggies, all but broccoli
Fresh produce

What's this list?

The list of stuff we're out of at home and cannot afford to buy until payday -- in six days. How is this possible? Scott and I both work, that's true. We pay nearly all of my wages for daycare -- I think I make $150 or so when it's all said and done. It IS worth it for me to work because of how the college pays our health insurance, so that saves us $370.00 per month that would otherwise be deducted from Scott's paycheck. Added together, that makes $520.00 that I make a month. Which we need.

So things got a little out of control this month, that's obvious. But not REALLY out of control -- we did eat at Texas Roadhouse once and did buy the kids some fall clothes and a Halloween costume for Milo. I paid for one skating lesson and we bought birthday gifts for Violet and Huey. We had carry-out twice this month, too.

We will be getting cost-of-living increases in our next paycheck, but it's still not going to be pretty. I don't know how families make it on one income. Home ownership has been the cause of our financial distress -- we financed some improvements on credit card, then ran into trouble when our pipes burst and family obligations made us take trips that we haven't been able to afford. We've charged too much, I completely understand, but have been making steady progress repaying that debt. We have delayed purchasing a larger vehicle until this is under control, so for now we'll pile into and out of my clown-car Jetta.

But this summer the price at the pump and in the aisle have really hit us hard. Simply put, a family of four with two working parents shouldn't have to scrimp as much as we've had to do. If, Lord help us, the plan to tax health care benefits goes through, we're going to be in a very bad spot. The college subsidized an enormous chunk of our health care this year, but will likely not be able to in the future. We are considering cutting our contributions to our retirement funds to the minimum as the funds are currently losing money.

I don't know what we'll do and how to further save money. We'll start canceling some things we enjoy: cable, DSL at home, Netflix. These are all non-necessities. If I can remember to charge my dang cell phone, we might be able to cut our land line entirely. That will likely make up the difference in the cost of our utilities this winter.

I can give up skating so that I'm not spending gas money to get to and from the rink twice, though because I teach, my ice time is already free. Or maybe we can combine the trip to the rink with weekly grocery shopping. I could clip coupons, but I'd have to buy a subscription to the paper to do it. It's hard to shop around with kids in tow, particularly because we live 15-25 minutes away from the major shopping areas, so stopping by one store to pick up soda on sale isn't necessarily cost effective and is certainly not time effective. I hate the thought of my weekends turning into a game show, "Cheap Food Hunt."

I can go back to shopping at, shudder, Wal-Mart for food and such because I already buy generic stuff when the quality isn't different. Maybe I'll have to start buying generic all the time, quality be damned. The biggest impact there will be Violet's diapers. She's long and lean and generic diapers don't fit as well (Hello poop up her back!). Plus, I'll have to wave goodbye to healthier snack options -- Organic Cheddar Bunnies come in a more expensive package than Whole-Grain Goldfish Crackers that are more expensive than Cheese Whales (or almost-cheese Whales).

We're really OK right now -- I just don't want to dip into the Christmas money if we can help it. Feeding us for the next week might be reason enough to spend some of our gift money on the essentials (so no deodorant for me -- I'll smell like Scott for a few days). We should be fine-ish through the new year, but who know what will happen after that? I know we're in a better place than a whole lot of households out there so I can only assume that people who make half of what we make are cringing about my whining.

Hmm... I guess I just might lose some weight since we won't be buying any junk food or making any spur-of-the-moment trips to DQ. That's not all bad...

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