Yes, we have chosen her raise over those things. Like when she first started we could afford to go out for a date once a month, sitter, dinner, etc. Now we do not go out at all. We flew to see family once or twice a year. Now we fly nowhere. I had a standing date with friends for Friday happy hour once a month, yoga classes once a week, and regular trips to the pool in the summer. No more. We have sacrificed to make sure she is getting a cost of living wage of three percent each year, even though our jobs have been on pay freeze plus increasing our contribution for benefits, which means we are taking home less and less each passing year. But I still hate it because three percent is what I see as minimally acceptable. She deserves more. That is why I like the more paid days off idea. It is something we can afford.
And yes, sometimes I do splurge and buy that nice cheese, or that new DVD for my kids birthday. But that is because that is a one time expense of ten dollars, not ten dollars every month for the next four years.
Sometimes I wonder why I became an educator. A Master's degree later and I could qualify for food assistance on my salary. Pathetic. It doesn't help that I am in one of the worst paying districts in one of the worst paying states. Base salary for a teacher here is 22K, which is pretty pathetic for a job requiring a college degree. But that is a whole other story. Honestly if public education wasn't so dismal everywhere, I, too, might be scoping out another job! As it stands I figure at least I love what I do, and I certainly can't change before I pay off my student loans! But if our nanny quits on us, it may be the straw that drives both DH and I out of public service occupations. If weIcan't afford quality care for our kids, then we simply can't justify working for our current wages. Both of us choose to work in the public sector over the private one because we enjoy giving back to society. But we both would easily double our salaries by jumping ship to the private sector.
So now I have to decide how to broach the subject of what "cannot afford" means with my nanny. Obviously the lights are on, the Netflix subscription is arriving, and we are eating more than beans and rice. So do I just drop things into casual conversation, like "I'm so happy about my new car because with the amazing financing they have for GM right now I got it for $40 less per month than my old car and the maintenance, gas, and insurance is less too!". Or "We are so lucky that my mom decided to get us a new rug, the old one was so worn out.". Or...what? I don't want to give her the impression that we are super hard up, since she does depend on us and I don't want her to think we are going to lose our house or something. Things are tight for sure, but we are getting by alright. Sigh. Alot of this is just guilt. I want to pay her more. But I also do want to eat more than beans and rice. And I want to be able to buy my kids a toy now and then, or take them to the pool or the zoo. She is getting a raise at least every six months come hell or high water., with smaller ones, like the five cent one, scattered in between. Part of me says she should be grateful for getting something we don't, even if it is small. But logically I know that she doesn't see my pocketbook and financial budgeting. All she sees is her check. Sigh. I guess there is no solution to my issues. I just have to live with the guilt and the feeling that I am getting more than I pay for.