In all seriousness, though, Naeners and I aren't wealthy. And we're never going to be wealthy. We're okay with that. He's a teacher, and I'm a social worker. We live in a society that doesn't monetarily appreciate those who choose professions that help others. But we both chose our professions because we love what we do, and we love making a difference in the lives of others. We certainly did not choose what we do for the money (nor did we choose each other for the money! Good looks, maybe! Money, no!).
The truth of the matter is that money is tight in our household. Really, really tight. Things have gotten even tighter with the addition of our little family member. And I have been wondering how we are really going to make things work financially in the upcoming year. I've lost sleep over it and cried many, many tears thinking about how we are going to make every cent count and not come up short.
We live a pretty good life. We aren't extravagant or lavish with our purchases, but we have always been able to live comfortably. We can pay our bills, have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing on our backs. There are days that I do complain about wanting a new wardrobe or new furniture, but I can't complain about these things for long because I have witnessed first hand families that truly are living in poverty (it's my job). And we are blessed to be able to afford and have the things that we do. And we are even more fortunate to have family that would help us out in a pinch if we got into a really dire financial situation.
But my stress lately about money matters comes from the high costs of many things and no raises in pay and the added costs associated with trying to live the American dream and raise a family. There are so many more financial decisions to be made once you have children. Decisions that we were aware of when we got pregnant but weren't sure how everything would play out once the little guy arrived. The cost of day care alone may break us...that remains to be seen in the upcoming weeks.
We debated throughout my pregnancy about whether or not I should be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) or go back to work and pay day care. We figured that we would not be able to make it on my hubby's salary alone because we do run a 2-income household. And we thought that with me going back to work and putting the little one in day care, we would at least net a little bit of money, I would still have free health insurance, and I would be benefiting from contributions to my 401K for retirement down the road. We are trying to plan for the here-and-now as well as the future. We also contemplated me quitting my job, staying at home during the day with the baby, and finding a minimum wage job to work in the evenings and on the weekends to help us stay afloat.
None of these options is perfect. Any option chosen requires some sort of sacrifice. And the option of the hubby working and me not working at all is not an option. So with the option of me going back to work and paying for day care, we are sacrificing my time at home with my young son. There will be things that I will miss by not staying with him all day. It makes me sad to think that he will have more awake time with other caregivers during the week than with me. But I worked hard to get my MSW and have been trying to make a career for myself. And I want to show my son that he has a well-rounded mother who loves to be with him and care for him but who also has a passion for her profession and independence as a person. And the option of me working in the evenings or on the weekends means more time with my son but less time with my hubby. And it would also mean that the time I have taken to pursue my career goals would be nil and void for this time.
No matter the option chosen, it's the same conclusion...scraping by to make ends meet.
My hubby and I are doing the best that we can and making the best decisions possible for our family. We want to be financially healthy, and we don't want to spend the rest of our days just getting by. We are cutting corners where we can....clipping coupons, eating in rather than out, buying things that are necessities, shopping the circulars for the best deals, sacrificing our needs to make sure the baby has what he needs, not trying to "keep up with the Joneses," finding ways to reuse what we already have around the house...
I am going back to work. And we are going to pay the day care costs. We hope that we stay afloat. Time will tell, and we will readjust our plan accordingly as needed. I keep thinking that "this too shall pass." We won't be paying high day care costs forever. And the ways that we learn to cut costs and save now will benefit us in the future. And while we feel the economic pinch and have to make difficult decisions about our finances with each and every purchase, we are not going to let this get the best of us. We will survive. We will have what we need.
Well I'm what I am and I'm what I'm not
I'm sure happy with what I've got
I live to love and laugh a lot
And thats all I need
And thats all I need
Kenny Chesney "Never Wanted Nothing More"