Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Working Parents - how do we survive?

We have 1 1/2 incomes basically now since Jai started working part-time (Sat.-Mon.) at Nashville Public Library in mid-October. For about 15 months we were living on 1 income which has been challenging financially, but our goal is for one of Julia's parents to care for her full-time. We kind of lived in fantasy land for 1/2 of these months as we spent more liberally than we should have, used savings sometimes to pay credit card bills, not living truly to the new adjusted budget. Earlier this year I freaked out as I usually do about money when I paid more attention to some of our expenses, especially a huge debt I didn't realize was as big.

We stopped careless spending (which wasn't outrageous, mainly going out to eat too often), started using the Dave Ramsey "cash money in envelope" plan, and examined other ways to cut expenses. Once we trimmed as much as possible (we probably could do more!), we discussed part-time work for Jai & I also signed up for after school tutoring at school - any way to increase income - & Jai got the job at NPL. We use that money to pay extra on debt - it's working, it will take us about 1 1/2 years, but that's good, compared to what was happening which would have taken 3-4 years.

We also are more self-disciplined, live within our budget, spend only what we have in the envelope; we use credit card for expected/automated expenses (for convenience mainly) like gas, diapers, WPLN donation, cell phone bill, then pay the bill each month. We still put money in an account for Julia - savings & education - and for CSA savings (we pre-pay at beginning of each season which saves us 10% & we don't have to write a weekly check).

We decided we're not going to travel by plane for the next year, especially as Julia no longer is a free ride. We're planning to visit family in NC in spring & Chicago in summer, but no other travel. We rarely eat out - maybe once a month, depends on what's in envelope. : ) We haven't seen a movie at theater in 5 months (we each have seen an individual movie using our personal entertainment money) - we get DVDs from NPL or Redbox. Overall it's good, but Jai & I have different philosophies about money. : )

OK, I've written about a different topic than I originally intended! I wanted to write about how hard it is to have both parents working outside the home. We're experiencing some of what I expect happens in that scenario - somewhat more rushed, less time with each other or for self, constantly pulled in so many different directions, no time to cook or clean. I feel lucky that Jai is home 4 days with Julia & he prepares most of our weekday meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner); I also enjoy spending time on Saturday & Sunday with Julia - our time together is special. Bonnie watches Julia on Monday so I treasure those afternoons when I get home from work & have 1-1 1/2 hours to myself, even if I'm preparing dinner which I find relaxing (sometimes). I'm happy that we're still able to prepare most of our meals from scratch (money saving technique & health reasons).

Parents are tired, regardless of work situations. There probably is never enough money.

We're also fortunate that I have a job with lots of vacation time.