$600,000?

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?

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17 thoughts on “$600,000?

  1. Kudos!! Those are the three main things for us too! Also, I notice that when I put bills on autopay that does two things 1) I know that money is coming out, so I make sure it’s in there 2) it keeps me from paying late fees. As long as you stay on top of balancing the checkbook once a week, it’s pretty easy to make sure everything is coming out at the right time and you’re not overdrawn.

    ALSO, putting the utilities on “even pay” where you pay the same amount every month all year round is a tremendous blessing. Most companies offer it and it sure helps you budget for it every month.

    I looked and looked for the right part time job and as you know, I started mowing grass. My kids are with a sitter 3-4 hours 3 – 4 times a week. It’s the perfect set up for us, especially since most of that time Simon is napping anyway. They are away from me a max of 16 hours a week and I don’t feel guilty and they love the daycare (for the most part). Maybe you could find something like that too! But your kids are younger than mine, so it may just be a season in your life where you have to keep doing what you’re doing.

    xoxo

  2. We also use an envelope system. A couple of things we do is we give each other $20 “pocket cash” for those little extras like Sonic, renting movies, etc. Also, we leave about $100 out of our budget each month and as that builds in our checking account, we use it for those non-budgeted items that creep up. It’s easier than using the “don’t touch” emergency money for those no-so-emergencies.

    As far as the kitchen, I’m like you. I don’t like the clean up at all. On occasion, I’ll make a freezable food in a large or double batch (like enchiladas or casseroles) and freeze half or more. It’s super nice to just go to the freezer and pull it out to thaw or warm up and supper is ready. You obviously can’t do this with every meal, but I was surprised at how often you CAN do this, especially with meats like chicken, beef, etc.

    Just thought of this too: We put all our coins in a large decorative vase and use the change for fun extras that might not fit in our budget.

  3. I am right there with you Misty. I like to cut corners like crazy. I only take Elizabeth to the fair on one day instead of everyday. We shop at thrift stores like crazy. We even find some really nice things. I think the only thing we really buy for the kids is socks and underwear. I couldn’t believe when I saw that the thrift store sold recycled underwear. That is where I draw the line. We also shop at Aldi’s in Springfield. We get our meat sometimes at Wal-Mart because if you break down the family packs they are actually a bit cheaper than Aldi. During Halloween, instead of buying candy, Elizabeth trick – or – treats twice. The candy she gets the second night is what she passes out to our trick-or-treaters. She likes doing that. Becky and I have also been a part of freecycle.org also. It is a website that people in the county can post stuff on that they have and want to get rid of. The websites #1 rule is that you can’t ask for money. Everything must be free. There are times that they have some really nice stuff.

  4. I try to do the “Cook Once, Eat Twice” mentality. For example, I will buy a nice, big piece of pork shoulder from the grocery store and then plan 2 meals out of it. One night we’ll have BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and then I’ll make BBQ pork pizza with the leftovers. Same goes with roasting a chicken – there are so many variations of meals you can make with chicken! Having a crockpot is SUCH a great way to go!

    Another way to save money is to stop buying prepared foods. By this I mean carrots that are already peeled and cut or pre-cut apple slices. It takes a bit more preparation on your behalf, but you end up saving SO much money this way. Same goes for pizza dough, hummus, even desserts (brownies, cakes, cookies)! It is much cheaper to make these homemade!

  5. We’re really trying to cut down on eating out: Matt was eating out everyday for lunch, and Logan and I would grab something if we were out and about. We just really started buckling down, and we’re in our 2nd week. So far so good. Supper was at home every night last week (this week has been tougher with Matt doing the back to school bash at work). I hate cooking and the clean-up so I’m not thrilled to pieces, but seeing what we save will make it worth while!

    I LOVE thrift shopping/garage saling for Logan’s clothes. Now’s the time to buy for next summer since a lot are 50% off or having dollar days or fill-a-bag sales.

  6. Hey Misty

    We went out cable for the last 3 years we have lived here saving 60.00 a month we decided it wasn’t really worth it to watch TV.. most discouraging info anyway. We recently got it for the sports and have limited ourselves. We did Netflix as our entertainment. (we have had cable for two months now and it’s going to be hard to see that first bill and realize how much I am wasting on TV)

    We are in a lot of debt we are currently paying 700.00 a month so that we can be done by Dec 2010. We do no have an eating out budget right now, we have to take it out of our grocery money, i’ve just now been able to get my hair done and even then it’s only about every 6 months.

    We don’t get to go on any kind of vacation, and rarely get go out and “Do” fun things, we try to stay home and have as much fun and try to be creative as much as we can.
    We are making these choices so that we can first and foremost get out of debt.

    We did the envelope system all of last year and it worked really well for us, we are trying to be more disciplined in our budget now and it’s been okay, we use an excel sheet to track things and know what we are spending, I think when you actually keep track you’ll be shocked at how much money is wasted.

    It has been extremely hard and takes so much discipline and honestly the hardest part for me is finding confidence in who I am through God and not money or material possessions. I know that sounds silly, but it is easily forget that people choose to like us based on who we are not what we look like (for me personally I have to remember that).

    I am accepting the fact that “Clearance” is okay. As a matter of fact bought two birthday presents today totaling $5.00 for both and they are great name brand toys.

    I think I wrote too much for the blog… I wish we as people can be more open about finances things weather you make 80,000 a year or 23,000 a year we all go through the same kind of things…
    I could probably go on and on about this…. Thanks for sharing Misty… look forward to what others have to say..

  7. One more thing occurred to me today. When I feel broke, I clean. It helps me feel better and it saves money. When you know where everything is, then you don’t have to go out and buy what you couldn’t find. Also, I think there is a bit of a principle of stewardship at work in that too. We have more in the bank when we are taking care of what we are given.

  8. I think raising kids in general comes with a sacrifice of sorts. We have a two income family and still don’t have the fanciest house or the fanciest cars. For one thing, these little rug rats (as cute as they are) are dirty, messy little things and would ruin the fancy stuff in a hurry!! 🙂

    I envy SAHMoms because I would love to be able to stay home with my kids, but at the same time I don’t envy SAHMoms because I think it is almost a bigger sacrifice to stay home then to work outside of the home. It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience to do what you do!

    I love you and miss you guys!

  9. MIsty,
    You are just so sweet and authentic…can’t wait to meet you in person someday….Maybe a drive to visit Florida relatives would be an affordable vacation!!
    Bruce and I have been taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We have LOVED it!! It is a life changer!! Besides learning so many great ways to handle finances, when you are in a small group of people all sharing great ideas on how they save money, it is amazing!! Last night, someone offered me a storage unit of brand new furniture to “borrow” for a house we may be moving to. She wants to save the money on a storage unit…it may be a win-win. Anyway, if we weren’t in that class, we never would have met her, and found a way to save us both money!! Besides, Dave Ramsey is so entertaining, it’s like going to a fun show each week!! Bruce facilitated the class, we have one more week…then we start again on a new one in three weeks, and we can hardly wait!! I”m sure we will learn a ton each time we take it, plus can’t wait what new ideas we’ll learn from other participants!! I HIGHLY recommend the class!! Love and Hugs!! Carol

  10. Forgot to say that I am both a part time worker and stay at home mom. the best part of my job is that I can work and bring the kids with me (since I work for the church) I don’t think that I could work and be away from the kids. Even with me working it’s a lot less stressful then having Jesse working two or more jobs. (been there done that too)

  11. Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts and ideas! It’s wonderful to brainstorm new and different ideas with friends and family!
    Since our discussion has been saving cash, I wanted to share this story. Yesterday I called Direct TV with the intention of cancelling our service or at least aiming for the smallest plan we could get. Instead, I came away with my entire plan in tact, free DVR service and $25 off my bill for a year! Woo hoo! We have been good, paying customers for 5 years, so they are treating us well!

  12. Hey, Misty. I just recently realized you blog, so I checked it out tonight and am glad I did so. I am a 5 day a week SAH mom and 2 days a week I work. That’s what I chose to do when Gracie was in preschool 2 days a week, and it has just carried over after Ella’s birth. Honestly, I don’t think I make much to work those 2 days when you count the daycare, but it pays my insurance premium and helps a little elsewhere, so I guess that’s something. We are on a very tight budget too since I chose to not work full-time after we moved to Macon.

    My problem is always finding inexpensive entertainment. The days feel long sometimes, so we hit the library at least once a week. They of course have great books, but our library also has a fantastic selection of current movies to borrow for 5 days. We also have a lake nearby that has a small beach. We haven’t paid to swim at the local pool this summer since we used the beach. I am a coupon clippin’, garage sale lovin’ mom who is wearing the same clothes from 2-4 years ago, but I’m okay with that, because like you said, what we are doing is important.

    I’m looking into the Dave Ramsey financial peace course and think it might be worthwhile for our family. I hope you find encouragement in the comments people have left and that you have more days of NOT locking yourself in your closet than days when you DO lock yourself in your closet! 🙂 (Been there, done that!)

  13. Hi Misty,
    Not sure if you remember me or not. I was your Spanish teacher many years ago. Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog and catching a glimpse of how you’ve grown into a most remarkable woman.
    A bit about me….. my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Schlerosis about 10 years ago. We hung on as long as we could, thinking that for him to continue working was the best option. Working hard was all we really knew how to do. We neglected a very important part. The part that included God and the fact that it was never really our plan in the first place. Funny how it is so hard to surrender sometimes. Anyway, since then, we have lived basically on my teacher’s salary, which as you know is not much. We have lost a lot, too. Mostly material things, which are hard but doable. We are raising 3 children. Living is still difficult but we have learned a lot in the process. As a result, my children have a very different life than their peers. We are much closer and I think they have a much better foundation than some of the kids their age that come from much more privilege. It’s the kind of trade off that doesn’t have immediate results sometimes, but you still see them.
    My daughter made the comment, “Mom, at least we know that we can weather the tough stuff, cause we’ve already been there”

    My kids play outside. We go to the park, go fishing, go to the library, go swimming at the lake, make things, go for bike rides. You name it….In the winter, we play board games, make cookies, make gifts. We are involved with scouting and 4-H and our church. Somehow we don’t miss the expensive games toys and entertainments. It is a treat to get a dollar Red Box movie. Eating out for us is the dollar menu at McD’s (we share french fries). We have discovered camping!

    My children wear hand me downs, garage sale clothes, and salvation army things. But you know what? No one knows! (Except you!) They are clean and well dressed just the same. They don’t complain and in fact are excited for “new” things.
    For school, they get what they need and one new item that they like, within reason. It is not an excuse for a new wardrobe.

    For Christmas, they get 3 things: After all, it was good enough for the Christ child. Typically, they are things that they need and maybe one thing that they want. They don’t tend to be as materialistic as others in their class.

    For meals, I generally cook everything from scratch. Not only is it much cheaper, but it is healthier. We buy items out of the markdown cart and buy in bulk when it is cheaper. We eat well, as my hips would attest. I spend about $60.00 a week for a family of 5 for groceries.

    You are probably bored at this point so I will suffice it to say that, while I am still a working mom, we are able to do it on one income. We aren’t perfect.

    One thought, before my husband was disabled, we had a difficult time finding quality child care in a Christian environment. Have you ever considered offering all the love and compassion you have to other mom’s who need that for their kiddos while they work? It might be a good supplement for your family while still allowing you to stay at home. It is kind of nice for child interaction, too. Just a thought. When your children get older and are in school, you can substitute teach at their school. A great way to stay in touch, still have all of the holidays and summer break off with them and you can say “no” when you want to…..Just another thought.

    This is getting long and i am sure you are snoozing already so I will quite. I remember you fondly and would love to hear from you. Just don’t forget to turn it over to Him. Yay, God!
    Love, Teresa

  14. Misty,

    I really enjoyed reading this entry and the different responses. It seems that everyone must learn that they are not in control and that God does have a plan for our lives. We learned that if we did not depend on Him, then His only choice was to let us fall. Thankfully, we have a loving Father that is there to pick us up and help us out no matter how far we fall from Him.

    Finances is the hardest area for a lot of people to let go. Yet when they do, He blesses them fully. My wife and I found that when we are faithful of giving back tithe and trusting in Him, that we are blessed even more than we know.

    We made the decision that she would stay at home with our daughter when she was born. At that time we were living in Franklin, TN with some of the highest costs of living in the area. Including all of the convienences that cost the most. He opened doors that allowed us to move to Nebraska and a much better way of life. One just has to allow the Lord to be in control and not question His timing or plan.

    I pray that the Lord continues to bless you and your family.

    Take care
    Jeff

  15. Oh my word Misty, I could have written this entry – pretty much word for word! We are exactly the same way – we don’t live in the nicest house, have the nicest things, drive the nicest car (singular! Lol!!), etc. I’ve done the same thing – sat at the computer looking through job listings, eventually just giving up, because just the thought of having to leave my kids every day absolutely breaks my heart!

    When we were first married, I worked full time, but my husband and I decided from the beginning that the money I earned would never be used to pay bills. This worked out wonderfully when I became pregnant w/our oldest – at the end of my 2nd trimester, I put in my 2 weeks, and have never worked full time since. (I did work part time being a nanny for about 3 yrs, but I was able to take Jared with me.)

    I can say there have been times when it has NOT been easy! For instance – when we moved to Georgia 2 1/2 years ago and our house in Indiana didn’t sell for months and months. Paying 2 mortgage bills gets old real quick!! God took care of us though, and praise the Lord, other than one medical bill, we are completely out of debt now.

    All that to say – I don’t really have any tips to add that other people haven’t already mentioned. I mainly just wanted you to know that you’re not alone! Mrs. Thrasher’s reply was a great encouragement to me as well – it’s nice to hear about kids who are older, who aren’t so materialistic and who instead appreciate the things that truly matter.

    Thanks for posting this – it’s nice to know I’m not alone! 🙂

    Love and prayers,
    Laura

  16. Have you ever tried making your own household cleaners? It can be much, MUCH cheaper, and in some cases safer to have around kids. The main one we use is for general clean up around the house. In an empty spray bottle I mix equal parts of water and white vinegar. It has anti-bacterial qualities so I use it on everything from windows/mirrors to bathrooms and kitchen counters. Also I have been looking into making my own laundry detergent. I’ve read that I can make 10 gallons for less than $5.

  17. A tip I just discovered: You know how recipes always call for specialty stuff that you have to buy just for that? I’ve started checking online for substitutes and it’s amazing how many items have substitutes that you will already have at home. Example: buttermilk. You need a cup, but it comes in a quart and costs as much as a gallon of regular milk. You can make your own by adding some lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. You saved a trip to the store and $2. Now if I could only remember to write them down as I find them, I’d be in even better shape. 🙂

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