Stan is totally dominating in the blog department. I knew he would. He is awesome.
I have had a headache three days running. Blech. I’ve wanted to blog but didn’t think any of you would be excited about what I had to say. And the rule in our house is “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” Figured I would abide by the family rule.
Today I read an article in Time Magazine reporting the average cost of raising a child in a middle income family is$221,000. (Check out the article for yourself at http://tinyurl.com/pvvzjh). They consider middle income, a family who earns between $57,000 and $99,000 a year. And by “raising a child” they mean getting them to age 17. This does not include the expense of college. We make less than $57,000 each year so our expense goes down a bit. (Their prediction is that those who make less will spend less and those who make more will spend more…) But even if each of our children costs $200,000 to raise…we will spend over half a million dollars just getting them to 17. That makes my head spin.
Stan and I have chosen to live on one income. I try not to whine about what we don’t have, knowing that what we’re giving up is not as valuable as what I’m gaining by being at home with my kids. I’m not saying that the choice we’ve made is what other families should do. I know each family situation is different. But this is the choice we’ve made and it doesn’t come without sacrifice. We don’t live in the fanciest house or have the best furniture. We don’t get to go on the same vacations other families take each summer. We drive one vehicle and shop with coupons at discount stores. I get groceries at Aldi when I can, shop resale when I can and use coupons whenever I get my hands on them. Our eating out budget is small and our entertainment budget is almost non-existent. When my kids go back to school they won’t be dressed in designer clothes or have the most expensive school supplies. These are the types of things we’ve given up so that I can be home with the kids. Honestly, in this recent economy, I have questioned our decision on almost a daily basis. Yesterday I even perused some job listings, wondering if I should consider going back to work full time. I ended up in a puddle of tears.
Although there are days when I would prefer to lock myself in my closet just to get some peace and quiet, I can’t imagine going back to work full time. I know that, at some point, I may not have a choice. For now, I’m trying to find ways to save and cut corners so we can make due on the income we have available to us now. So my question to all of you is, how are you making adjustments to fight the tough times most of us are facing? I’d love to hear your money saving tips, your resources for coupons and your budgeting secrets. Here is some of my best advice…
1) Use and stick to a budget! So much of the money we have is spent willy-nilly. We don’t even know where our money is going and so its difficult to know where we can cut back. Stan and I have recently started using an envelope system. When the cash in a particular envelope is gone, there is no more money in the budget for that category. (I have to be careful not to cheat. I am always tempted to take a little out of the auto maintenance envelope so we can eat out one extra time! I do not recommend that!)
2) Make a grocery list and shop cheap! If I go to the store without a list, I am doomed. I will end up spending a month’s budget for groceries on snack foods and breakfast items. I have to make meal lists and then plan grocery shopping according to our needs. I love going to Aldi to buy what I can. I find I spend about 40% less there than at the supermarket. If you have a big family, or find yourself going through a particular item fast, buy in bulk. Sam’s is a great option!
3)Eat at home! This is my worst downfall. I do not enjoy cooking and especially despise the clean up afterward. I feel like I spend my whole day in the kitchen at times. As soon as breakfast is over, its time for snack…then lunch prep and clean up afterward…snack again with a small clean up time and then prep for dinner. After dinner, dishes, major kitchen and dining room clean up. And the next day it starts over. I don’t like sweeping my floor 5 times a day, washing the counter after every meal and snack, doing dishes several times a day… I know, I’m whining. But kitchen duty is definitely on the top of my “household chores I hate” list. It’s right up there with laundry. Has something to do with both of them NEVER being done! Anywho, I am learning that going out to eat is a budget killer. We can eat at home for usually more than half the cost of going to a restaurant. And normally we eat healthier when we eat at home.
Okay, its your turn. What do you have to share?