Monday, April 20, 2009

Low, low, low.

So, I am feeling low, as the title states.

My dream job has always been and will continue to be a stay at home mom. And that is what I am....for the time being at least. I feel like we are getting to a point financially where I can no longer stay home. I guess I always had this image in my head of the happy little stay at home mom/wife, cleaning, cooking and raising her child(ren) all the while her husband works hard all day, comes home to a clean house, a happy wife and child(ren) and dinner on the table. I learned pretty quick that this is not reality. But I also thought that as a stay at home mom I would rest in the the knowledge that my husband would take care of the money and I would take care of the house. It's not that Todd doesn't do everything he can to provide - he goes to work everyday, works hard, and will probably get him promotion pretty soon. The problem is we didn't prepare.

Xander was a surprise for us! We knew I could get pregnant at any time but we weren't planning on having a baby when we did. I was surprised and excited when I found out I was pregnant with Xander. Todd always knew that all I ever wanted was to stay at home once I had a baby. We knew that the time was coming, but I don't think we did what we needed to do to prepare for the huge financial shift that was about to take place. It is so cliche to say that hindsight is 20/20 - but there is a reason that saying exists!!! We have made so many mistakes in the past and while we learned from each one, it seems we still make them more than we should.

Looking over our "budget" tonight made me realize that after every single one of our fixed expenses - ones that there is NO wiggle room on, we have about $70 left every month for EVERYTHING else!! $70!!!! Who lives on $70 a month for gas, groceries, entertainment and unexpected expenses? No one, that's who! Not us that is for sure. So I realize month by month as I stay home, we are sinking further and further. Wow - if that is not a bummer - I don't know what is!

We talked about me getting a part time job, but I have more than one reservation regarding this. I know at this point it doesn't seem like much of an option, but here is why I don't want to work part time or at all.

1. I am still nursing Xander. Though I originally thought that I wouldn't nurse him much past 8 or 9 months anyway, I feel like if I had a part time job, I would have to either stop nursing all together or start pumping a lot more (which is not very fun). I guess I could find a way to make this work, but I wish I didn't have to.

2. Xander is growing and changing so fast that I can barely keep up now. I feel like even if I work part time, I am going to start missing a lot more. If I go back to work, I will work hours that are opposite of Todd so we never have to have a babysitter or daycare, but that means I will work evenings and weekends. It will break my heart to not get to put my baby to bed every night. I know if I work evenings that Todd will have to give Xander his last feeding of the day and put him down.

3. I am not sure that working part time will really help us much at all financially so I am hesitant to do it. I guess if it gave us even $100 more a month, then that would help, but I am still stuck with the idea that if I am a stay at home mom, I shouldn't have to work at all, not even part time. I guess to me it feels like if I have to work part time, I might as well work full time. I know that is silly, but I am an all or nothing type of person with most things.

4. I think it will be a bit insulting to have to take minimum wage for a part time job. I have a feeling that most of the jobs I would be "qualified" for would pay minimum or barely more. Having left a job where I made almost $19/hour before I had Xander and going down to minimum wage is like a slap in the face. I know it is part time, but I also know that I would be capable of doing a highly skilled job, if only a company would offer part time work for that type of job.

5. I feel like I don't see my husband that much as it is! If I get a part time job, I will probably see him all of 1/2 hour most weekdays and a few hours on the weekends. The idea makes me sick to my stomach. How are we ever going to have time for us or time to relax together? We won't.

So, all of that being said, I don't think it is an option at this point. I have also been thinking about how bad it would really be to go back to work full time. The LAST thing I want is to put my son in daycare, but so many people do it everyday. Is it really that bad? I think for me the answer is yes. Not because I am opposed to daycare in and of itself, but because I am stuck mentally thinking that I would never have to put my child(ren) in daycare EVER. I think that is part of my problem - the ideals and ideas I have about how life should be get in the way of reality all too often.

So what's a mother to do? The overall financial well being of our family is important and at this point, I will do what I have to do. Todd has talked about getting a part time job, but that is so unfair and I would never ask him or want him to do that. As it is, he only sees his son for a few hours each day....he would be down to maybe 5 hours a week if he took a part time job!

I seem to think that if Todd gets his own store (which I thought he would have by now) all of our problems will go away. That is certainly not the case, but I am sure that it would help in a few areas. First, we are stuck with this house until we move. We could sell the house now and rent for a while to reduce our housing cost, but we don't want to have to do that not knowing when Todd will get his own store. We don't want to get into a lease somewhere and have to break it after a month or two and don't want to pay a large security deposit and lose that because we moved so soon. Once we move and sell this house, this will be one of the biggest fixed expense items we can change. Though it is not ideal to rent in my book, we can do that for a while until we can find a house in our price range and until we feel better financially. The second way him getting his own store will help is the obvious - he will make more money. And the third way it would help is with our cars. We also feel stuck with our cars and their payments now and don't want to make any changes on these until we know where we are going and when. This all ties into our credit score and trying to get a house. We want to make sure we make the right financial decisions at the right time to avoid paying higher interest rates on a house and cars (if our credit is bad then they will charge higher interest - or worse, we could get denied a loan at all).

We have already cut back on as many things as we can think of - no gym membership, no home phone, no internet and we are about to cut the cable. We need at least one phone - Todd has to have it for work and we have to pay a large fee if we get out of our cell phone contract early, so that is something we can't get rid of. We can't get rid of our insurance, our cars (we owe more than they are worth), electricity, water or heat. We have though of just about everything it seems and it is still not enough.

Sometimes I wonder why I am not rich, why my parents aren't rich or why I didn't get a great job right out of college (I guess you have to graduate college first). Why are some people rich? I know that some people had to work for their money, but there are some people out there that basically inherited a rich life. Though they work, their parents are always able to help them out with everything and since everything in their life was paid for up until they graduated college, they never had a single penny of debt and already had a bunch of things they may have gone out and bought themselves. So what do they do with that extra money that they didn't have to spend? They can save it, buy a bigger house, a nicer car, a fancier watch, go on nicer vacations. Basically they can breathe. Don't get me wrong. I do not want to be rich. Sure it would be nice, but that has never been my goal in life. In fact, if I could do, see or have many things, being rich overall would be low on the list. I think all I ever wanted was just to feel secure financially. To me that means being able to pay every bill every month and not having to worry about if there will be enough left to get groceries or gas or a gift for your nephew's first birthday.

So, the only way to get where I want to be is to change. Change is easier said than done. We have made changes, but they aren't enough. What will be enough? What can we do? Those are the questions that are stuck in my head. Until I figure them out, life will be tough and I will be feeling low.

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