It’s more than $$$

Bottom line, sometimes the numbers simply suck. Recent headlines of the average cost for a blue-collar family raising a family is slightly under 250k in an 18-yr timespan. People seem alarmed by this number. The truth is if you read more than the numbers, the cost increase for raising children is somewhat modest. In 1960, it was estimated that the cost of raising a child from birth to 17 was just under 200k in total. The number projected in the most recent USA Today study referenced 245k from birth-18yrs. Merely an average when you consider that calculated in that number are all vastly different American regions with livable wage the costs ranging slightly higher and lower than the mean. So if you look beyond the numbers, there is something to be said for sensationalism in the media leading to the shock and awe factor that has ensued.

While the cost of raising a family is going up, the number of individuals opting to have children is going down. Perhaps the biggest concern here is, what will that do to our economy? Food for thought but…the cycle of life also fuels the state of the economy. Although, admittedly I commend those who have enough self-awareness to make the conscious decision to forego childrearing and although it is arguable, I firmly believe that you do not have to have children to have a family or to be fulfilled, and ultimately to each his own.

It is also noted that the cost goes down with subsequent children. Why, you ask? Hand me downs, shared toys, “discount rates” for second or subsequent-children, etc. etc. So just because the first cause 245k does not mean the second, third or even fourth will do the same. Most of the parents I know, ourselves included, are well aware that they may never be financially secure “enough” to have a children, but the overall joy and love of having a child is much higher than the projected cost that it may charge their bank accounts. Some argue this is selfish, having a child without being able to afford one. Well, let me let you in on a secret, unless you fall above this middle-blue-collar class you probably “cannot afford” 245k outright. Just like in 1960 I doubt many parents could afford 200k but there is something to be said for making it work. Yes, I fully agree there are many large arguments to be made here, but I’m writing in general for those that fall in the working class, not below or above and (disclaimer: not a political statement ONLY an observation) there are more government assisted programs to help families with this large cost today, than there were 50+ years ago. I digress…

To my point, being a parent is more than $$$ in fact being a parent is not at all about $$$, at least not in the US. It’s about something much more, for those who choose the challenge to take. Yes, there are times when it seems to be mostly about schedules, oopsies, and “No!” Tantrums, poop and breastmilk, but that’s just the first few years 🙂 The single most important reason we embraced having children, and also the reason we have not completely eliminated options for subsequent children (although we are pretty well-set for now) is that it is about family; it is about love; and it is about leaving a permanent imprint of love and stories for generations to come. And I hope that when the time comes (hopefully) many decades from now the memory our girls have of us is worth much more than 245k and maybe a few noted stories and pics of tantrums, oopsies and poop.

ox

Credit:
usatoday.com
24/7wallstreet

Rich in Love & Friendship

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Today is National Friendship Day, who knew?! I feel like a nod to such a special relationship should gain far more recognition than a random reminder on FB. At the very least it should be in every 12-month calendar. I’m serious, can one really argue the importance of a groundhog being spooked by it’s own shadow over the recognition of a valuable relationship with the potential to span a lifetime? Or better yet, let’s nix Valentine’s Day and replace it with Friendship day, we can still celebrate with chocolate but at least then guys could have a fair shot at getting on board with this holiday #bromanceisreal

Not to brag, but even though my bank account may run low in $$ I am beyond wealthy in the currency of friendships. I have so many amazing and caring friends and I value each one, through good times and bad. Even if that currency only existed for a brief moment in time, I value it. My dad had his own nod to friends, albeit a bitter one, but because he was a rough and tough Okie; and I the stereotypical rebellious daughter (LOL-not really, but still) I went 180-degrees the opposite direction. I put all that I am into my friendships. Granted, I’m not always the best of friends myself, we all make mistakes; and in the analogy of this blog I can say that with friendships there is no price too high that I haven’t paid or wouldn’t be willing. When I think of my friendships I am so rich in gratitude and love for the people who call me their friend. With great friends interest runs high and for me that interest is paid out double when these friends then become family.

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Of course, even the richest individual has a past, one they cannot forget but must find a way to appreciate for it has helped them get to the place that they are. It’s impossible to think of all the friends who have helped me in the past 28 years but occasionally I’m blessed with a moment that brings me back. Either by way of an unexpected smell or most common for me, a song, and I am instantly thrown back to a different circa remembering something beyond silly or heartwarming. I love these moments and am grateful for these relationships as well.

I dedicate this post to all of my wonderful, priceless friends- new and old. I’m certain I don’t say it enough, but to all of my friends, thank-you. I love you.

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ox

 

2 for the price of 1

It was with trepidation and excitement, for all of us, that we were gently shoved by father time into this next stage of life. Kindergarten.

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It’s something you always know is coming and it’s exciting but HOLY COW didn’t we just find out I was pregnant with this child??? Not to worry, memory lane is closed. Back to the topic- but still it goes so fast! We have gone through the natural wave of preparation and emotion as well as expense, that comes along with the start of school.

As I sit here on a Friday evening I am trying to get back to basics with this new milestone. How does it all fit? What are the new numbers? The summer is really over for us, so what does that mean for fall planning? On paper I see a list of bills- regular monthly bills then adding in soccer leagues, hunting trips, business trips, birthdays, drs visits, etc. and in mind I just see $$$ from every direction. At this stage the prompt, is our childcare expense. Elementary school is at no cost for the regular school-day but when you add in lunches, gas, field trips, extracurriculars and that Madilyn now has to go to both BFS and AFS care-programs because of our work schedules, it’s a lot. There have been moments of regret that we do work so much that we can’t run the carpool or save her these long days, but honestly- it’s really no different. She is now at daycare 5 days a week for the same amount of time, so that is neither here nor there. It’s not so much these scheduling changes that have a direct financial impact as much as the miscellaneous; and it’s my/our experience that the miscellaneous expenditures are the ones that seem minimal and meaningless but will eat your budget and savings like the plague! My goal is to take a close look at all of it now, be proactive, make a plan and continue on our path of learning from our mistakes and attempting to make smart financial choices to better our family.

The biggest difference, again that may not seem like much, is the grocery aspect. Right now our wonderful DCP provides breakfast, lunch and snack. With Madilyn in school we have to provide these ourselves or provide the money for her to buy, but either way it’s coming from our budget. The first challenge to tackle is that of our grocery planning. Buying school lunches and snacks is not easy nor do I know if she’s actually going to eat it. I was in Target the other day and for a brief moment was inclined to ask an experienced school-mom, how to make a lunch for a child. Thankfully, I thought twice, followed my own rule, and walked away.

Could you imagine??
Me: Umm, I’m sorry I don’t mean to sound incompetent but my daughter is going to Kindergarten and I don’t know how to make her lunch? Do you have any pointers??
Her: :::dumbfounded:::: Why did anyone let you leave the hospital with that poor child?

Anyhow, I survived making my first lunchbox and the first grocery spree of snacks and preparation. However let it be known, that in the future these will be built into my twice a month shopping trips (1st and 15th-ONLY).

Bringing me to my next topic, groceries. I have actually had a lot of people ask about my grocery tips and tricks. To be honest I don’t have many, it’s all been trial and error but as a friendly reminder before everyone gets back-to-school shopping either for lunches, snacks or for general grocery tips. Remember a few of the following notes:

  • Always make a list.
  • Shop your pantry first. See what you have so you’re not stuck in the store texting your husband who isn’t answering his phone.
  • Use sale flyers. Items go on sale in “seasons” you can slowly build a dry pantry this way. Remember it doesn’t always have to be full; and if you get items on clearance that don’t expire for a few years you could (in theory) stock up this end of fall for next school year.
  • Select your meals based on the groceries purchased. Not vice versa. Of course the exception to this rule is a celebratory dinner but for your regular weeknights- keep your grocery bill low and then only make meals out of what you have. Leading me too…
  • Leave what you don’t have at the store!! If you forgot it, chances are it wasn’t a priority. Or if it was a huge oversight there are always exceptions but more often than not Americans tend to do “random runs” to the grocery store. I’m sure you’re familiar with these, they usually sound like “oh, let’s have this I’ll pick up ___ or what can I grab for dinner on the way?” etc. etc. These do you no good! They waste your hard earned money and even more upsetting to me they waste the food going bad in your fridge from not being consumed
  • Produce: This is always a big question I get. How do you buy your produce and make it last? First, I typically always get frozen vegetables (the ones on sale) for dinners. For fresh fruits and veggies I buy bananas (still slightly green and keep them in the fridge; they brown faster on the outside but last longer on the inside) I buy spinach, tomatoes and onions. The occasional fruits get eaten up in a snap, so they dont get wasted and occasionally a few spinach stems get icky and thrown out but  for the most part they last at least a week.
  • Ultimately, if you don’t have it, you don’t need it and it can wait until your next grocery run.

Okay enough about groceries, you get the jist and if you have other questions I’ll be more than happy to address them, just post in the comment section below but ultimately it’s all trial and error. Make a budget and stick to it; plan, coupon where you can and remember even if you wind up over budget a bit, food is a necessity- that pillowtop mattress cover that seemed so soft in the store can proobbaaably wait.

Last but not least I’d like to tie this before and after post together with a little, albeit obvious, tip I learned this week. It was a big “AHA” moment for myself. In trying to come up with healthy snacks without being taken to the bank on “individual size” this and that. I, at one point, found myself holding the 6 pack of mini applesauce containers. I thought, this seems ridiculous it’s not even going to get through two weeks of lunches?? And then I saw the regular jar of applesauce and I thought “umm, duh I could portion it myself” and it seriously saved me over $2 and will last much longer. #winner #winner

Until next time,
ox