It seems like life has a way at balancing itself out constantly. The fortune and misfortune, So I can look at it as every downfall is followed by a windfall, or if I want to be negative every windfall by a downfall...
Bummed out and crunching numbers tonight. I was anticipating a shift in our financial situation- partner works (getting married next summer so i refer to him as my husband some of the time in these forums), and I had been making a small amount in craft sales, being a SAHM with our new baby, and taking care of our 3 part-time kindergartners and managing all of my son's (who has autism) therapy appointments etc. He just recently got approved for SSI, and I saw this light at the end of the tunnel that I may be able to start doing more for him, and the rest of my family. Well, they misquote me and then called back later to say it would be HALF the amount they had told me. Then in the same day I was told that my food benefits would pretty much be cut now that I have a baby with my partner (2 of the older boys are mine, 1 his). SO, I am getting SSI now but actually further in the hole because I lost my other benefits. because the SSI benefit brought our income over! I thought, perhaps now I will just need to find out how to make extra money- but if I do, for the money I earn the SSI will be cut back, until it finally reaches an even point again and I could possibly start making more than where I started.
I am disappointed because I thought the SSI was to help my son, but now it is being counted against the rest of my family and we are worse off than before. I definitely did not want to be part of the system forever, but with a developmentally disabled child, a new baby, and 3 of our 4 children in K part days a job in my field is basically impossible, I've done the math and we would LOSE more money if I worked f/t and put the baby in f/t care and the others in after/before school care! It's crazy. And I'm mourning the fact I won't be able to do the things I was hoping to for my son. :(
The one bright side of this, I suppose, is that I am where I am. I KNOW I am in this financial situation that won't change much any time soon, and I KNOW working would actually cost our family more than me staying home at this time- not to mention added stress on our children and family as a whole. So, I know what i have to work with! Fortunately I was already in the mindset of figuring out how to live more frugally and have a big discussion with my partner about really putting it all on the table and having a real, mindful budget. I know it probably sounds terrible, but I don't think either of us have been good with money and budgeting. I'm not so bad I guess, I make so little I am totally aware of my finances and everything goes to bills and things my kids absolutely need. But as a partner, I don't question how we spend a lot of *his* money. He covers everything else, but there is a lot of spending that goes unchecked- toys the kids don't need, clothes the kids don't need, eating out too much, etc etc. I don't think we really should be upset we lost benefits, because I think we are capable of cutting back and living more frugally than we do. I had just hoped to invest more in my son- and I can- but it will just take longer.
I just want to know how you (yes, you!) got to a point of living a much more frugal, simple, downshifted life. I am particular about some things- I want to preserve my values as best as I can and those include using natural/ organic/ healthy the most I can on a tight budget. I would forgo it for survival, but I'm looking to make things work in our favor as best we can. Specifically by eliminating the things we don't truly need, or at least keeping them in check. I think I am bad at meal planning and stocking up on food- I always act as a short-order cook for picky eaters... I want to know if anyone has pointers on eating well on a tight budget- and in a way that is healthy and somewhat pleasing to kids.
I also want advice on how to talk to my partner. Money has always seemed like a sensitive issue with him and he never is very open about budgeting with me. I think we both need to really become conscious of our money and how it goes toward things, and find the places where we are wasting it. How much were you able to shift your lifestyle, and mend your finances?
The one thing we can't change right now is where we live. We rent a house and the cost of living here is high-for a 3 bedroom house, which is our minimum room requirement. Our lease is through next summer, at which pint we are going to look into buying a house or finding something potentially more affordable. Being in the position to buy is going to take a lot of work, though. And possibly a lot longer than next summer.
Mostly this comes down to food and excess spending. Just wanting pointers on how you tackled those issues :)