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Browsing posts in: Kids & Money

Send a Prayer Up – Wisdom Teeth Removal

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Send a prayer up for Sea Cadet today please.  He will be getting his wisdom teeth out, and he is VERY nervous.  I’ve walked him through it from my own personal experience, the oral surgeon answered all his questions last week at the consultation and now it’s time.

I’m very grateful that his insurance covers this 100% and I’ve used that aspect to encourage him to get it done now before he is on his own.  Not to mention it will really help with the braces we are re-doing at the end of the month.


Winning the Lottery

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Winning the Lottery…Boy, wouldn’t that be great!  Do you ever lie around and dream of all the things you would do if you won millions of dollars?  I know, I do, especially when the billboards shout it in your face that the winnings are over over $200 million.  Even the kids have started making “plans” with their fortunes.

So as a fun school activity this week we gambled!  I went and bought a couple scratch off tickets for each child and we played the game.  But even more important then the fun “dream” discussions we had, and hopeful anxiousness as they would scratch off their ticket, were the discussions on chance, and percentages, odds and valuation.

It was so good to hear the thought out discussion as the kids discussed what else could have been with the $10 we spent on the tickets rather than “flushing it down the drain.”  It didn’t quite work out since we ended up $20 ahead in winnings when one $3 scratch off won $30.  But I was proud that the kids all decided to share the earnings and get a treat rather than reinvest and take a chance of losing it.

We finished off the excursion with verbal math problems throughout the day on chance and odds.  They had a blast and what a fun way to do “school” this week as we review all our computation rules as we get ready to dive into Geometry for the year!


Back to School

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How quickly the summer has flown by! Even though it doesn’t feel like Fall yet (and I guess technically its not for another month and a half!), the Fall semester is soon upon us!

This month is going to be a little on the pricy side for childcare. Our current childcare facility (the JCC)’s last day is on July 31st. They close for a week for teacher planning before the next school year begins. But our new childcare facility doesn’t start until August 12th. So we’re left with 7 weekdays with no childcare! Yikes!

Although my job does allow some flexibility for working from home, there’s no way I can stay home for the entire 7 days in a row. Especially at this time of year (being brand new, trying to get all the prep work done for my classes, endless meetings, setting up my new office, etc. etc. etc.) it’s just not feasible.

So after racking our brains for possible options we’ve finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we’re going to have to pay someone hourly to come to our house to watch the kids. This is WAY more expensive (per hour) than taking them to a childcare center. But I also don’t feel good about just throwing them in a random childcare center for 7 days and then moving them again to the new place (they’re not great with change, and moving to the new facility is going to be enough of an adjustment. Plus – anyone remember our bad experience with a childcare center last summer? That experience has scarred me a little so I’m extra careful about vetting places now). To me, this is really our only available option.

And, even so, I’m still going to have to take off work. Our babysitter is a senior in high school and schools start back next Thursday so she can only watch our kids Monday-Wednesday. The plan now is for me to stay home Thurs-Fri, and for hubs to stay home the following Mon-Tues, and then they start the new place on Wednesday, August 12th. Whew!

In addition to babysitting expenses, the new school has a whole list of things we need to bring. I’m going to use our same lunch boxes, but we need a new backpack (I’d only bought one last year and we never even used it, but the new place requires them and I want them to each have their own), we have to bring some school supplies, oversized shirts (to wear over their clothes for art projects), and it seems like a ton of other things that I can’t even remember right now. I just remember going through the paperwork seeing dollar signs as I was reading.

Even so, I’m VERY excited for them to start this new preschool. I absolutely loved the JCC and will sing their praises to the very end. But it’s not practical to stay there given the distance from our home (especially now with me working), and our new place seems really awesome, too. I ADORE their teacher, its closer to our house, the curriculum is incredible (it follows NAEYC standards), and it’s cheaper! A win-win-win all around!

So hopefully after this first month of extra childcare expenses (due to babysitting costs and back to school supplies), costs should even out a little bit.

I don’t know if its just because I’m in higher education, but I have always LOVED back-to-school excitement! You can just feel the energy and buzz in the air! I find it especially true on a college campus, but I’m sure it’s a similar feeling everywhere.

When do your kids go back to school? How much do you typically spend on back-to-school supplies?


Yogurt Date

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One of the joys of being more in control of my month, monthly expenditures and debt…is DATE time.  No, I am not dating…but I am definitely making a more concentrated effort to spend more one on one time with each of my kiddos.  Living in our tiny space have been stressful for us all, but especially as of late with the “hope” of being able to move and having that quashed multiple times.  (More on that another time.)

So I got to end my work day today with a yogurt date with Little Gymnast before dropping him off for his 5 HOURS of gymnastics training.  I love that I can schedule a DATE with him and not worry about spending the $10 for some fun without having a crushing weight over me, living paycheck to paycheck and wondering how to keep all the “balls in the air.”

So just a quick joy filled post about my wonderful mom/son date time today with yogurt…which I did use a $5 off coupon for – even better!


Braces, Part II

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Do you remember my braces post….Braces or a Car.  Well, it’s time for the decision.  Went to a follow up appointment for Princess yesterday and she’s ready for braces.  So at the end of August Sea Cadet and Princess will begin the 2 years of orthodontist treatment subscribed by the most recommended orthodontist I could find…to the tune of $5,800 and $5,300 respectively.  Yikes!

If you will recall, this will be Sea Cadet’s second time in braces…poor kid.  But it really is necessary.  I did make the decision go ahead and get his wisdom teeth out first, which is fully covered by insurance.  So we’ll be doing that the first week of August and then they will both begin braces at the end of August.

I’m thankful that the orthodontist offers a interest/fee free payment plan (although with those numbers, I bet there is a fee somewhere.)  So beginning in September I will have a approximately $500 per month ortho payment. New car anyone?

I say approx at this point as I won’t get exact number until August 31st and they will give us a 5% family discount on the most expensive child.  But I’m using $500 as my budget base to be safe and thinking it will be closer to $460 per month.

Kids are expensive!  (But yes, oh so worth it!)


Giving Myself Some Grace

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When I wrote about my first week of work and the changes I was adjusting to (specifically the looooong days), I had several people comment to remind me to take care of myself and allow a couple weeks to get used to this huge adjustment in my life.

I’m definitely taking those comments to heart and although I don’t want to make long-term budget changes yet, there’s one in particular that I want to make at least for the short-term:

Increased grocery budget.

Prior to starting as a blogger here, I spent a TON of money each month on food. Between groceries and eating out (including $$$ drinks), we easily spent a thousand a month!

When I first started blogging, I set a grocery budget of $400/month for our family of 4, and a restaurant/eating out budget of $75/month (which I later increased to $100/month). So I’ve essentially cut our food spending in half!!!!

But it hasn’t been all daisies and roses! I have notoriously struggled with the grocery budget, in particular. I’ve written several times about how if I lose even a bit of focus that it comes out in my grocery spending. I’ll pick things up all willy-nilly at the grocery store just because it looks good or sounds good at the time. I’ll stray from my list and get random things that are really unnecessary or convenience foods I could make myself from scratch for cheaper. So it’s not like I’ve been operating at 100% this whole time but, in general, I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to about $400/month in groceries for our family.

With this new job, however, I’m already finding it challenging to have the time to make all the from-scratch foods I like to make. I’ve tried to help myself by doing rollover meals (example: one night I made ground beef tacos and I browned some extra beef so the next night I could make a beef casserole dish), and I’ve done food prep once a week where I wash and cut up fruits and veggies so they’re ready-to-go. But I’m still finding it to be a bit of a challenge.

So I’d like to start buying a few prepared/frozen foods that I can just pull from the freezer, heat, and eat – especially on those days I’m feeling particularly drained. I don’t want to eat this way all the time (I still prefer fresh foods, myself), but I can see how the convenience is worth a little extra money at the grocery store – especially when the other option I’m considering is take-out. Frozen, prepared grocery store foods are still cheaper than take-out! So I think maybe 1-2 grocery store convenience meals per week might be a new thing for the next couple weeks.

I’m also going to try to beef up my own freezer stash. For example, in regard to the beef casserole I mentioned above, I made enough for 2 meals and froze half of it so we can eat at a later date. But until I’m fully stocked on my own homemade freezer meals and while I’m still trying to transition to my new roles both at home and the office, I want to offer myself a little grace in the form of an increased grocery budget. I don’t know what exact numbers will look like long-term, but for right now I’m thinking an extra $25/week (extra $100 per month) will really help ease the burden a bit during the evening rush to make food and feed the kids before other evening chores set in.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your favorite work-night recipes, websites, or blogs that you frequent for quick, healthy meal ideas and kid-friendly foods!


Wear, wash, repeat

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I feel like my days are on a serious repeat cycle and this post could pretty much be a duplicate of last weeks, with one MAJOR difference. I am anticipating a check today that will be the last payment towards my consumer debt…July 1st deadline goal met (almost as it hasn’t gotten here yet.) I feel like I should be doing some sort of happy dance or woot, wooting, but really I am just ready to keep plugging along.

I am really enjoying having choices with my money, rather than just looking at what bill is due next. And I really like the idea of not having to fork over a large portion of my money to debt anymore, but I do still have a ways to go. I have picked my next debt goal and am looking at the timeline now so will post that soon.

Now the news from this week…

The housing question is still looming. I have until the 24th of this month to let my apartments know if I am moving out at the end of my lease to avoid any addition fees. I also have the option to go month to month at that time or sign a shorter lease or another year long lease. I know I will not be signing another year long lease, but everything else is still up in the air. So more on that later too.

I’m continuing to do daily chauffeur duties to swim team practice, day camps (this week the littles are at a free VBS,) and gymnastics practice. I feel like I never have a solid block of time at home or if I do it’s at night when I’m exhausted, so not being as productive as I hoped. That is something that I need to change as I continue to try and build my business!

I’ve two extra kids staying with us this week, 8 year old twins. They are from a single mom family and she is really struggling financially so hasn’t been able to afford to run her air conditioner or hire a sitter for them. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of them staying alone day in and day out in a hot house, so voila they are here. They live about 3 hours from us, so she will come on the weekend and we will evaluate the situation for next week. (One of my twins is gone for the week at Ministry and Leadership Training, so it hasn’t been quite as tight as it would have been. Plus, these twins get along like gang busters with Little Gymnast so they are having a blast together.)

Speaking of Little Gymnast, today is his birthday. Now that’s something I can get excited about. When he found out he would not be getting his iPad screen fixed for his birthday, he gave me a revised frugal list…he’s getting everything he asked for: 1 gallon of grape juice, silly string, Reeses Pieces and a new blanket. (His Thomas the Train comforter is on it’s last stuffing!) We will go out to dinner tonight with his dad to celebrate…he’s chosen Golden Corral for the unlimited food and chocolate fountain!

So I’ve got lots of news, but nothing definite. Expect detailed posts coming on:
1. The next payoff goal and timeline.
2. A new, maybe not so extreme budget…maybe. We’ve gotten used to this one and it really hasn’t been that bad.
3. Details on our new family car.
4. A decision on housing as soon as I make one, lots still going on around this so can’t even hint to what the outcome will be.

I hope you are well and enjoying your summer and staying cool. The heat has been stifling and these last few days have been our first break from 90+ degree weather, so I’m dreading seeing what my electric bill will be. But I am oh, so grateful to be a in place where I can run it without worrying about being able to pay the bill. And run it to my comfort. I know that many people can’t do that. We have much to be grateful for, even on our strict budget.