I’ve haven’t been up for writing about our efforts to save in the face of chronic disease lately.
We can’t save @#$%.
It’s one thing to write about success getting out of the struggle, another to admit the struggle is real. It’s maddening! It’s terrifying! It’s like we’re standing on a precipice and the next gust is gonna knock us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Admitting it makes me feel like a contestant on ‘Naked and Afraid.’
Our financial struggle revolves around paying for childcare.
In Eli’s first year of life, I worked a wonky schedule to save a little on childcare expenses. We paid off medical expenses for two cystic fibrosis-related surgeries and stint in Neonatal Intensive Care.
Eli’s 2, the medical debt is gone, I’m back to a regular work day and Eli and Laila have a nanny full-time. It is super convenient and super expensive for a journalist and a teacher to swing. Eli has a fatal (polite: life-threatening) lung disease, and I can’t handle sending him into a day care in the slobbery, germy tot phase.
We have made adjustments to our spending habits that I would never call ‘sacrifice’ to afford nanny.
Planning weekly meals, cooking at home, not sucking down lattes, canceling cable and budgeting monthly are a few examples. We’re so bored we do things like buy balloons at the dollar store and hit them around the living room.
Still, we put away a relatively small amount each week. Without fail, any time our little savings account reaches Dave Ramsey ’emergency fund’ territory, we have a minor emergency or a string of them. An errant medical bill. Car maintenance. The tax man. Whatever!
Of course, we are responsible for every life decision and spending decision that led us here. Like, I write stories for a living (working so far…shhh). Mark teaches the youth of America in a state that is 49th/50 for teacher pay. We bred. And only weeks ago, with Mark on a break from teaching and my family on a break from paying for our nanny, we decided to spend 10 days in Florida (four of those driving!) instead of putting money away and batting balloons at each other for two weeks (thank God).
The entire trip cost about $1,600 for our family of four.
We returned to reality after that glorious break from deadlines and laundry avalanche threats.
And there I was, in a Target aisle, freaking because they were out of ‘Frozen’ birthday party invitations. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO THROW LAILA HER FROZEN BDAY IF THERE ARE NO FROZEN INVITES?!
I called Mark in a panic.
OMG, I mean, what should I get? They have Lego, but she’ll hate that! Like, HUGE CRISIS.
This is what I did once I came to my senses and realized we had bigger problems than no ‘Frozen.’ invites. We had bigger problems along the lines of: Hey kids, do we want to eat this week or throw a party for Laila and the schoolmates we barely know? I canceled the party.
No, darling, we don’t get big fancy birthday parties on the heels of a nice vacation.
And a fine substitute is the family roller skate night with two good friends on Thursday (which happens to be Mark’s birthday…ha).
And sweetie, you’re not getting a new bike.
Laila loves her new Easy Bake.
That is not sacrifice. gimmeabreak.
Even so, Mark and I felt like crap parents and a financial failures. A cloud hung over us for days.
I called our new accountant, who I turned into my psychologist.
We feel like big losers. Like we’ll never get ahead ever!
She reminded me that Eli won’t need this type of care forever. She reminded me that we’re not behind or over our heads. She reminded me that once this childcare phase is over, we’ll be able to save a higher percentage of our income than most people bother to.
I knew all that, but hearing her say it out loud brought me so much relief.
Anyhow, the whole reason I hired this accountant is for her expertise in dealing with people who run their own businesses. We don’t do that, really, but I took on a little freelance work in 2014 and so did Mark.
She’s helping us get organized and set goals.
And the goals are the thing.
Our reality right now is that we spend slightly more that one third of our take home pay for a nanny.
NO WONDER WE CAN’T SAVE. LIKE, DUH.
Right now the top goal is to save my son’s lung function, a priceless and irreplaceable commodity.
So we’re standing on the edge of a precipice. So what? Let’s take in the view. Do a jig on the mutha$%^&^!. We own the struggle. We’re not low down and busted. It’s ours to conquer. Without problems to solve, what would we do with ourselves?
I’ve vowed to get a grip. Let’s all get a grip.
As God as my witness, I’ll never freak out over ‘Frozen’ birthday party invitations again. *Bites root vegetable.*
So to all those engaged in the struggle – financial, mental, relationship issues, your dog keeps peeing on the rug, you’re lonely, I don’t care what — know this: The struggle is real. We are all works in progress. It’s OK.
All you can do, every day, is better than the day before.