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Updates

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I owe you guys some updates on a couple of topics that I have hinted about and mentioned in passing a few times.

Today I’m going to talk about:

  1. The daycare situation.
  2. The financial relationship between my husband and me.

This morning’s post will focus on the daycare situation. Check back this afternoon for more about the interesting financial relationship my husband and I have worked out.

Childcare Costs

Childcare is an exorbitant cost, any way you look at it. We have been lucky that someone I know has been watching the girls in an at-home daycare for a fraction of the cost of traditional daycare facilities. For comparison, when the girls were 6 months old I was dissertating and had to put them in a “traditional” daycare 2 days per week. Our rent at the time was $595/month (granted, we lived in the ghetto, but still…) Our daycare for TWO days per week = $1200/month. Yes. Literally double our rent!

Currently we pay $600/month for 3 days per week of care ($50/day). I’ve mentioned several times how I’ve been thinking about cutting our childcare back to two days per week to try to save some money.

But in discussing with my husband, he’s raised some concerns and wants to consider other options. I’d love to hear any suggestions or advice that you have.

Here’s the deal…..

We’re trying to decide if we want to keep the girls in daycare at all (versus just being home with me) and, if they stay in daycare, if we should reduce our number of days at our current place, or if we should look into other options elsewhere.

I’ve made a table below with the Pros and Cons that we have been considering…

At Home With Ashley

In-Home Daycare (Current Provider)

Traditional Daycare

ProsI get to be with the girls all the time! I’m 100% in control of what they do, what they learn, what they eat, when they nap, etc. It’s free! Lots of extra money toward debt-reduction!Lots of individual attention; Only 4 children (socialization, but not a ton of germ exposure); Children have a strong bond with provider (not a different teacher everyday); Relatively inexpensive.Everything is documented (food eaten, diaper changes, activities the kids did, etc.); Lots of structured activities in addition to free time; Educational enrichment is provided; Stability (substitutes in case of teacher illness); Extra opportunities for socialization (more kids)
ConsVery challenging to get work done; Never have a “break” (working during naps, and in morning/night); difficult to accomplish some things with girls home; Really sucks when we’re sick (we have no family here so no “social support” to help out if we need it.)Less structure (e.g., music time, story time, art time, etc); No documentation (e.g., writing how much kids ate, at what time; when their diapers were changed, if it was “dirty” or “wet”, when they napped and how long, etc.); Requires flexible schedule (if provider is sick, there’s no substitute).More children (somewhat less individual attention); More chance of illness (more kids = more/varied germs); More teachers (instead of 1 caregiver that we all “know” there could be random substitutes, etc.); Very expensive!

 

I’m leaning toward keeping our current daycare provider and reducing to 2 days per week. However, if I’m really serious about debt-reduction (and I am!!!), then I should really be considering removing the girls from daycare entirely and keeping them at home with me. Even if I got a babysitter for 1 day per week (in case I need to go to campus), it’d still be cheaper. I am VERY nervous about how this would go with my work. I’ve read a couple library books on work-from-home Moms and many of the strategies do not sound like they would work for me (e.g., “Wake up a couple hours before the kids to do work.”……ummmmm, my kids wake up at 5:30am a lot of the time. If you think I’m waking up at 3:30am, you’re out of your mind!). I already work in the evening many times as it is, so I don’t see how I could possibly get everything done. But…people do it all the time. There are LOTS of work-from-home Moms (shout-out, Hope!!!). If there’s a will, there’s a way, right?? Right??? : /

Meanwhile, Chris is leaning toward option 3 (traditional daycare facility). We love our current provider, but Chris really liked the documentation, structured activities, and educational enrichment the traditional daycare provided. Plus, he really thinks the girls would benefit from additional socialization (being around more kids). But it’s literally twice as expensive as our current costs, for less overall care (2 days versus 3 days). And it definitely runs counter to our debt-reduction goals. However, it’s hard with kids because you can’t always just pick the cheapest option. There are some definite “positives” of the most expensive option.

So this is why I haven’t made a change yet. I guess I’ve just been mulling it all over waiting for the “right” choice to knock me upside the head.

What do you all think? Should I bite the bullet and become a work-from-home Mom full time (the quickest route to debt eradication)?? Should we stay with our current daycare provider and reduce the number of days? Or should we go with Chris’ wishes of moving our kids back to a larger and more traditional (and costly) facility?

Stay tuned….I’ll peep back in mid-day with another of my Money-Saving Tricks series, then later this afternoon I’ll post about the interesting financial relationship situation between my husband and me.


Question of the Week – Defining Success

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This is our Sunday series where we all respond to reader questions. If you want to submit a question, please go to this post.

Question of the Week

Beyond the numbers – how will you define success throughout this process? posted by Jenna

Stephannie

This is a question that I would have answered very differently just a couple of weeks ago.  My moms recent diagnosis has really made me look at things in a different way. One thing that has not changed is that I have never been a numbers person. I avoid them at all costs which, let me tell you, that strategy has done wonders for our debt situation. Sarcasm aside, the numbers were never really what I considered when I thought about success in becoming debt free. I used to think that I’d feel successful when we would only rely on ourselves for the things we want and need. When we would use good judgment and if we did not have money for things we want then instead of running out and getting a loan we would reassess and either save up or realize it was something that we didn’t really need. I always thought once our thinking was changed and it had become second nature, I’d feel successful.  Now, I just want to be able to take care of my family. If my mom needs me to take her to the doctor in Houston I don’t want to have to worry that I can’t afford to take a day off of work because I need to pay a furniture loan, or pay on a credit card that has some charges that I don’t even remember what they’re for. Having to make that choice just seems so stupid. So, now I will feel like we are successful when debt no longer rules our lives. We go to work everyday and spend more time with coworkers than we do with our family. I want that money that I make those sacrifices for, to really count. 

Jim

As in life, things are mostly done in baby steps.  Having these small achievements will keep me motivated for the long haul.  There is three things that if came true, I would define it as success.  The first being is the numbers, let’s be honest seeing your Debt Number really does motivate you every day.  The second, is to get in a different mindset, one that is set up for success.  And the third is to change my children’s thoughts about money.  My daughter really has a hard time grasping the idea of money, she thinks that we can buy anything, whenever we want.  She is always begging for everything, just to not play with them.  I really would like to change her thinking.

Hope

Great question! I think there are two ways I will truly measure success other than the debt numbers…First, seeing a change in my children’s attitudes towards money.  Seeing them make wiser decisions with their own money, learning to budget our grocery money and being willing and even excited to earn money.  This would be a huge plus to me out of this whole process!

Second, the stress reduction and loosening of then noose around my neck as I am able to pay bills easily without strategizing so much each and every time I get some money would be awesome. This will come not only from the lowering of the debt numbers, but continuing to consciously choose more frugal choices in a lot of areas, enough so that those choices become habits rather than things I have to think about each and every time.

Ashley

This is a hard one because I am intrinsically motivated by the numbers (seeing the debt amount go down, the amount in savings go up, etc. etc.), so I think I automatically associate the numbers with “success.” But, obviously, theres so much more to debt-reduction than just the numbers! For me, I think another way to measure success is in becoming content with what we have. Its so easy to be tempted with things we see in stores or on TV and the “I want” mentality is rampant at least in the U.S. (and elsewhere too, I imagine??) I’ve been trying to learn to want what I have and be content with that. I am very fortunate. I have a great family and a blessed life. I’m still working toward it (it’s so easy to be tempted by “stuff”), but I think that finding peace with what we have and not always desiring to have the next “hot” gadget or gizmo is a good goal to have. I would love to instill the same values in our children, as well. That, in my opinion, would be a huge “success” on this debt-repayment journey.