We had our fun in July.
My family got out and explored the world, ie, the Southern plains. Ma & Pa drank the good beer and even pulled off a few nice nights out.
Fun’s over, kids! It’s childcare season. Mark, a teacher and stay-at-home summer parent, had his first day of school today.
The words “affordable” and “childcare” don’t really belong in the same sentence, for the typical middle class family in the USA.
Eli’s chronic illness complicates things regarding childcare, if only in my own mind, perhaps, but also in real life, more likely. (Did that even make sense? #tired, 11:30 p.m. on Monday night).
Backgrounder: I took four months of leave to take care of newborn Eli buddy’s initial tum trouble surgeries in late 2012-early 2013. Returned to work in the spring of 2013. Next up, we kept a nanny (we went through six, actually — “Weeeee!” as Eli would say).
We didn’t think latest nanny, nanny Melissa, would be able to stay with us this fall on account of her schedule with school. I weighed daycare options. By that, I mean, for the duration of the summer, I had daycare night terrors. What if I make a wrong move and he gets sick, really sick? Hospitalized, nebulizer, coughing-up-crud, dying-lung-tissue sick. What if? What if? What if? Who are the people who would be watching my child? Will I trust them? (HAHAHAHAHA NO).
While I heard from parents who said their CF buddies did well in daycare, I also know of parents who do everything they can to keep young baby and tot CFers out of daycares. It didn’t feel right in my gut to put Eli in a daycare.
Then, Melissa became available.
We’re going to stick with nanny M.
She’s worth it. She gets a raise and more hours, that’s how much.
I consider the higher expense part of my family’s lifelong fight to keep Eli well. That fight is just going to cost extra, and I’ll willingly pay up, because it’s for my son. He’s going to need to get out in the world more some day, and we’re going to have to let him. In the mean time, sissy can bring home illness from school to shore up his wee immune system for real life.
Right: Higher daycare costs mean we have to batten down the hatches on this crazy cash ship, SS Young Middle Class Family With Children.
We want to do more than stay afloat. We want to pay off our remaining student loan debt, pile up a savings account, learn to invest, buy a home etc. etc. bla bla bla bla American dream etc. It’s too much to think about in an evening. One foot in front of the other.
The step we took tonight was our August budget.
Thanks to excellent helpful person reader Beth, who just had a baby (hi Beth!), we finally got a nice little budget in order in Excel. This will make it easier to stick to doing a monthly budget, because we can copy/paste expenses month to month. Excellent Beth also provided an detailed week-to-week spreadsheet to use each month, but I’m not quite there yet.
After listing our normal monthly expenses, the date those are withdrawn and the method they are withdrawn, we/Excel added up expenses. Next, we added up take-home pay from our four monthly paychecks. After that, we subtracted expenses from take-home pay. As a side note, we included an automated savings deposit in the expenses, ’cause we act like that money’s not even there. Am I writing like this is Finance for Dummies right now? Yes, because that’s my level. Taking it down to square 1, ya’ll!
Good news: We follow this budget to a T and we should be fine.
To give you an idea of some expenses in OKC, we’re budgeting $200 a week for food & supplies. We are going back to cash for this budget item. No, really. Really, we are this time.
Mark has alerted me to a chronic work pants shortage in his wardrobe. This is problematic. I can’t have my husband running out of pants to wear to school. Bad scene. I asked him if he also needed new shoes. He held up his rad black Swoosh-on-black-suede Nikes and pointed out they are four years old and have a few holes. He then proceeded to tell me he didn’t need new shoes. That means he is getting new shoes.
He gets $150 for new duds. That’s really not a lot, but he suffers latent Catholic guilt attacks after spending money on himself, so we’ll want to minimize that.
Laila needs new school duds, too. Frankly, we’ve gotta go through her clothes and weed out old stuff, see what hand-me-downs we can scrounge up from the relatives, and then buy. My sweetie’s headband collection needs a boost. We need to get into bows. Bows are the bomb.com.
Laila gets $150.
There is excellent news following a hard year that had us stretched to the brink.
We eliminated hundreds of dollars in monthly payments by paying off Eli’s medical debt and enrolling Laila in a free pre-K, a charter school here in OKC, as opposed to a private preschool.
Mark picked up a new side gig! Thanks to my amazing friend Erika, he is hooked up editing curriculum for a solid hourly rate that works in the evening hours.
I may pick up a few more side gigs, but brotha, I gotta breathe for a minute.
The fall, to me, has always been the real start of the year. I hope it marks the beginning of a new and improved year for my little family.