How Did We Get Here?

Okay! Here goes another post on money...on our money! Woe is me! Alright, not really! But since I already put it out there about our financial trials and tribulations, I thought I would just expand on it. Afterall, this is a journey, right? And I invited you to come along!

I've been thinking a lot about why our situation is the way it is right now when it comes to our finances. What did we do wrong? What could we have done differently? What can we do differently? How can we assure ourselves that once we make it through this bump in the road (aka being broke) we won't get back to this place with our finances? I, mean, I have to be hopeful that things are going to get better, right? What is life without hope for the future?

As we all know by now...we are not rich, and we're never going to be rich (barring a big lottery win)! My hubby is a teacher, and I am a social worker. Those in helping professions just don't profit; these are not lucrative careers we have chosen. But that's okay! Because we have good health insurance (free), a steady paycheck, good working hours, and an excellent vacation/holiday schedule. A price can't be placed on those intangible benefits! did we get here? And by 'here,' I mean living on the tightest of budgets. I can basically narrow our current financial woes down to 4 things: (1) my maternity leave; (2) 2 giant hospital bills; (3) transitioning jobs; and (4) daycare expenses.

I took 12 weeks maternity leave when I had my son. I couldn't have imagined it being any shorter because that time flew by way too fast. And I am truly thankful for that time I had to bond with my baby. It was the most special time in my life. But my maternity leave was a sense. It was only paid by the amount of vacation and sick leave I had accrued prior to going out on leave. And I was lucky to have accrued enough leave to cover almost 10 weeks of my maternity leave. But that left our home without one full paycheck (I won't get into all of the logistics to the timing of the paychecks because it doesn't really matter). But not having that paycheck was okay (alright...not really) because we had saved money prior to my maternity leave to cover the fact that I would be missing a pay while I was out. It still sucked not to have that pay and to have to dip into the savings...but you do what you have to do.

So at the end of 12 weeks, I returned to my old job. I had to work a little bit before the paychecks started rolling in again because there is always lag time between time worked and time paid. And just as I returned to my old job, I decided to put in a notice of resignation (which was a good thing). So we waited for me to get paid for my time worked. I got one full pay and then a partial pay. Therefore, I did not get a full month's worth a pay that we needed to keep us on track. And as I went to start my new job in January, the start date got delayed because of inclement weather. So there I was waiting a whole week to start my new job (and making money). So my maternity leave coupled with changing jobs has left me with not having a regular, steady, full paycheck since early December (and here we are at the end of February). We are a 2 income household. Period. So my dips in pay have definitely affected our situation.

Along with the lack of regular pays comes into the play the fact that we have had 2 big hospital bills. We anticipated the bill from labor and delivery...we knew it was coming, and it would be big. And while I thought the bill was rather hefty, I had a natural birth with limited medical interventions, so in the grand scheme of things my will to feel the pain probably saved us quite a bit of cash. But we then got slapped with another huge bill a month and a half later when Baby Q was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay. I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to my child, and do whatever I have to do and pay whatever I have to pay to make sure he is healthy. But, DAMN! It really doesn't do a budget good to have over $3000 in out-of-pocket hospital expenses in less than 2 months.

And finally...we are paying a crap ton of money for daycare. Not because we chose an extraordinarily costly daycare but because it is the going rate where we live. And by "going rate," I mean we are paying over $300/week in daycare expenses. You do the math. It's a lot of money...more than we pay for our mortgage each month! And we started paying the daycare expenses a month earlier than we anticipated in order to secure the spot at the daycare. So we started paying the daycare expenses right at the time when my income was stopping. Perfect timing!

Sooo...that is a bit of a breakdown of how we got broke down. I think I am going to post later about what we could have done differently to avoid these hard economic times, and what we are planning to do to get ourselves back on track. But, for right now, I am tired of thinking about money. It's Friday (woot!), and I need to take a mental break for the weekend!

1 comment:

  1. From NattyB -- Your post is very topical and indicates the problem with US not guaranteeing paid maternity leave.

    See excerpts from this article found at

    Paid parental leave in most countries is financed either by employers or social security.

    The big numbers:

    One of the most common work-family supports, paid maternity leave, is practically universal: academic research covering 190 countries shows that as of 2011, 178 countries guarantee paid maternity leave under national law. In nine of the 190 countries, the status of paid leave for new mothers was unclear. Just three countries definitively offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Swaziland—and the United States.

    Another 50+ countries also have paid paternity leave.

    In the U.S. meanwhile, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to take unpaid parental leave. That law, though, only covers half the workforce because it exempts companies who have under 50 employees.

    Here, according to HRW, are the effects of the American system:

    Human Rights Watch heard consistent accounts of the harmful consequences of inadequate paid family and sick leave after childbirth or adoption, employer reticence to offer breastfeeding support or flexible schedules, and career fallout from becoming parents. Parents with short and unpaid leaves described delaying immunizations and health care visits for babies; physical and mental health problems for parents; short periods or early cessation of breastfeeding and dismal conditions for pumping; financial hardship; debt; demotion; and denials of raises or promotions.

    Don't look to Congress to address these issues any time soon. The real hope for change may be on the state-level; California and New Jersey, for example, have created paid family leave insurance programs.


Tell Me All About It: