I am feeling like a real loser these days, and need a place to vent. I would also welcome any suggestions...
I have 2 "issues" (really 2 solutions) going at once, and 2 teenage dc's to hate me - one for each!
The bottom line problem is that income doesn't equal expenses. About $1000/month difference at the current lifestyle. Obviously, I can either add to income, or decrease expenses. I am meeting strong resistance to either approach, while one kid supports each plan.
Plan #1 - Extreme frugality. We already live pretty modestly, so this answer is fairly radical, and frankly I question if we could realistically maintain this long term, and even if we could really cut enough to make it work. BigGirl, 17, is enthusiastic about this - she enjoys planning and cooking economical meals, has little interest in cable TV, and shops at thrift stores anyway. YoungSon, 16, on the other hand, loves him some cable TV, junk food, current video games, and name brand clothes and shoes. Grouchy, nasty teenagers are no fun to live with. I don't mean to give the impression that he is a spoiled jerk. He contributes to the household in a big way. But these things are important to him. Him getting a job and supporting his own habits is a long term possibility, but he is mildly autistic, and this would be a very slow process.
Plan #2 - Get a house together with my mother. YoungSon is actively supportive of this - he looks forward to spending time with his grandmother, and to living in a bigger house. And the end of our financial woes. BigGirl, on the other hand, sees this as an invasion of her privacy. She is homeschooled, so is home alone while I am at work (YoungSon will be back in school when summer ends). She treasures having the house to herself, and dreads just the presence of another human. We just ended a room mate situation, and then summer came, so she had really been desperate to be alone again. Let alone that she doesn't have much to do with grandmother.
From my point of view, well, it is complicated. My mom, 93, is my best friend, and I love her company. We lived together until a couple years ago, when I had a couple high needs foster children, and her need for peace and quiet clashed with the ambient chaos level in the home. Foster kids are gone now, and peace reigns. Mom has been living in a personal care home, where her care has been more than adequate, but with some major (and valid) gripes. Most of the problems have to do with communication - she has been deaf all her life, and reads lips. All her caregivers are non-native English speakers, and difficult for her to understand. They don't understand her either, and many minor communication issues have become obstacles out of proportion. If she lives with us, we will hire friends to help with her care, and the communication will not be an issue. It will be demanding of my time, however. I will need to be home to cook a real dinner every night (independent teens can manage on their own occasionally, but not provide for her). I would need to make arrangements to go away for a weekend. I will need to keep the house to a higher standard than when it is just us. She is a little OCD, and I feel she has earned that right. But it doesn't come naturally to me! Money wise, it would be great - she would pay me what the personal care home charges, and even after paying a daytime helper, the increase in rent for an appropriate house, increased utilities and food, I would still come out ahead. Way ahead. Enough that I could seriously expect to be saving at least $1000/mo. AT LEAST! And that would be with no lifestyle changes, moneywise. The bad news is that Mom can't live forever - I would not be able to afford the increased rent after she dies. The good news is that I would have some money in savings for the first time in my life.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that to save the money for moving (1st, last, deposit, plus movers) we would have to share this tiny dump of a house for 2 months. While the right floorplan in a new home would be able to meet BigGirl's need for privacy, it would be very close quarters at this place for now. Rough on all of us, Mom as well.
Thanks for the chance to write this all out. I would welcome any insight/advice. I posted this here because the issues from the kids' points of view are pretty much money related. My own emotional perspective comes into play, but it is really the question of which kid to support in financial decision making that has me boggled. How far can you ask your kids to bend?