Mostly just venting, but if anyone has any brilliant solutions or wants to whine with me, I'm looking for company!
Mostly just venting, but if anyone has any brilliant solutions or wants to whine with me, I'm looking for company!
I so totally understand you. We have an old house here too that still needs lots of remodelling and patching. Just got a minivan for the family we have monthly payments on, now the transmission on DH car died. So he will need a new car soon. We were hoping for it to hold out at least another couple of months. We cannot afford anymore payments. I will be staying home with the baby for the first year. That is already decided. We only purchase the plain basics but for some reason every month something seems to be breaking down that leads to extra spending. So tired of it!
I feel your pain. My family was impossibly squeezed when we first had our kids. Here is my input --
What you can do depends a lot on what your current income is. If you're living pretty simply now and still just making it, I may take that to mean you have a lower income? If that's the case, doubling your family size may allow you to qualify for some assistance that could help you get by. Depending on your area and what's available, daycare assistance may be available. If you've been paying for health insurance, you may qualify for Medicaid instead (and remember that Medicaid qualification calculations include unborn children). If your income is very low, you may qualify for nutritional assistance. If you don't qualify for SNAP assistance, you still may very well qualify for WIC, which can help pay for food while you're pregnant and food or formula once your babies are born. I know that nobody likes accepting assistance, but it was totally necessary for my family for a while.
Even if these things aren't an option, you should definitely adjust your tax withholding on your paychecks. This can free up substantially more money every month. You would get it back at tax time anyway, but it helps more with the budget if you can get it with your regular pay. If you qualify for an earned income credit, you can also get this in advance payments on your paycheck.
If your student loans are federal loans, then check out income-based repayment or pay-as-you-earn (PAYE is the better program, but only applies to newer loans). What you pay is based on family size, and it can make a huge difference. My own standard payment would be about $500, but with IBR, my payment is about $35. It will only increase when my income does.
If you have a moderate income, you can look more at trimming lifestyle if possible. It sounds like you are already brainstorming about that, and of course the internet is full of suggestions for this (so I won't be redundant here).
I completely understand about neither of you being cut out to be a SAHM. For my family, having a parent at home when the kids were small was the only way we could make it. We never made enough money to pay for daycare (especially for an infant), at least not enough to make it worth it. All of our money would have gone to the daycare provider. There are a lot of incidental expenses involved in working, too, that you cut out when you have someone at home (less cost of transportation, wardrobe, plus the SAH-parent can help doing the time-consuming things that help with frugality, like cooking and shopping for good grocery deals). Of course, this is something you have to figure out for yourself, but I honestly don't know how anyone pays for daycare unless their income is high or it's subsidized somehow for them.
Good luck to you and congrats on your babies. This part is such a tough adjustment. If you want any more info on the programs I mentioned here, let me know (I'm a case manager, so I help people navigate this for a living).
Money is a huge worry of mine. We definitely make enough money....I'm just not sure where it all goes sometimes. The biggest thing I am worried about is childcare. It's so expensive. We really want to have a nanny, at least for the first year, and then we'll decide if we want to try a daycare. We haven't looked into how much it will really cost us yet, but I know it will be a big chunk. My BFF is also pregnant and due a month after me. We briefly discussed nanny sharing with them and they seemed to like the idea. We'll just have to see if it will work logistically. My sister asked if she could watch the baby, she is an RN and works only on the weekends. Not only does she smoke a lot, her kiddos have a ton of screen time and they live 30-45 minutes away (in the wrong direction) so that won't really work.
We live a pretty cushy life. I'm sure we can cut money, especially on our grocery bill. It's just one of those really time consuming things that DW and I like to put off. We are looking into the tax withholdings now that we can file as married. We both do the income based repayment plan and my payment is currently $0. It took me a while to find a job after getting my masters so my 2012 salary was basically nil. That will go up this year sadly. WIth the repayment plans you can also combine it with your wife's somehow and it might reduce your payment. The income based and pay as you earn plans are also tied to family size, so adding two little ones could help you get a lower payment as well.
Great advice, PrimalJoy!
My husband and I are having our first surprise baby and I'd say that we're both definitely significantly concerned about money. I do wish it wasn't a concern because it is a very exciting time to have that brewing in the back of our minds. To be honest, I kind of like that it was unplanned in some senses as we're younger than we intended (we're 27, planned on being at least 30 before starting a family) and I think that as a "rational" human, if we were to plan it, it might never really seem like the right time, especially financially.
As far as work, I've been an AmeriCorps volunteer for the past couple of years, and just recently started a "real" job with benefits and a 401k. My husband works for the Forest Service so has the winters off to do odd jobs. Winters are pretty rough for us, which is where we are now and thinking about a baby. The good news is that winters off means my husband can care for the baby in those months thus saving on care costs. I just got off SNAP benefits when I started my new job. So while we're moving up, its still seems somewhat tight. Between the two of us, we have tons of student loans. I was able to pay one off with AmeriCorps education funds which felt great, only a bazillion more to go! I'm currently trying to pay as much as I can on student loans. We do not own a home.
I was considering a home birth as I'm not a big fan of hospitals (actually they terrify me) and they're so expensive for sub-par care. A few family members began to make me feel slightly guilty about my decision but having my first two pre-natal appointments at a hospital and getting blood work, etc., I've decided that I don't feel guilty for wanting a home birth. The doctor was nice, but he didn't remember me at the second appointment and its a very small town (maybe its because I was wearing my glasses, but don't they take notes on those computers?). We had a long discussion at the first appointment about only doing what was needed and discussing each process to see if I actually needed it. Second appt. and he had reverted back to not explaining, just doing. We have insurance, but still have $1500 deductible and then the insurance only pays 70% which is still high. He mentioned that he was so used to folks having medicade and not caring if he did all the tests because they weren't paying for it. So I've been looking around for a mid-wife which has been somewhat challenging as I live in a rural area and they don't advertise well, even on the internet. I found one about an hour away that seems really nice that I'll be going to meet. Her costs are $2,000 including everything. I called the hospital for a ballpark figure and with insurance it will be $4200 out of pocket for a normal vaginal delivery with no complications. For a C-section (I really hope I don't have to have one) it will be $7,000. I'm guessing this is the bare bones and will actually cost more. They don't even give good care and they certainly don't consult you!! I know now more than ever, not simply because of cost, but because of treatment, that I do indeed want a home birth.
After birth, I'm not too worried about costs (until they get older). We'll be cloth diapering and I'll be able to work from home a bit and we'll be breast feeding and then making our own baby food from local produce. Just seems like birth is almost like paying for a new car! A human is being born and automatically, there is sadly a cost. Do they charge more when you deliver two? Or should I be hoping for twins? :)
I'm very excited for our baby. Thinking about finances makes me feel robotic and nonhuman. Putting a price on a human life is terrible.
Isa -- I can totally relate to preferring to be in the workplace. I was a SAHM with my first two, but I work full time now and like it a lot better this way. I think it makes me a better mom, too -- DH has a lot more patience for toddler shenanigans than I do. We do a combination of all solutions. He's home with our 2-year-old much of the time, but he's also a full time student. I work from home two days a week, and we use a good drop-in daycare to fill in the gaps that pop up. It's a big crazy circus that I have to keep reminding myself will not last forever (it feels that way sometimes). It's just going to get harder once the next baby comes along. We have to take it a semester at a time, but we haven't precluded him needing to take a year off school (since the daycare doesn't take babies younger than 1).
It sounds like you have a good plan to possibly work something out with your existing provider. Some of my friends have found that, after one or two kids, having a nanny made more financial sense than paying a daycare center for several kids, and was a lot simpler in terms of having to pick up, drop off and such. Some nannies will also charge less if they are bringing their own child along (if that's something you'd be comfortable with), as that's not an option with most jobs. I hope you're able to find a solution that works well for your family. Child care during the first few years is always such a struggle, in one way or another. It's such a catch-22, because good care is so expensive, but you don't want to cut corners that will compromise the quality.
I really do wish you the best as you figure this out. It does sound like a really challenging situation!
I only skimmed but didn't see this mentioned. Do not forget, next year you will have 2 new dependents when you fill out your tax forms. I believe that will be $2,000 per child or $4,000 for the year. Whoever is working should change their tax withholdings. Doing so you can raise your take home pay by around $300 per month. That's no jump change if you ask me!
I would like to second the suggestion for applying to WIC and SNAP again when the baby is born--that new addition to the family will make a big difference in what they require. I work from home and make a decent amount of money, but found out that I still qualify for both WIC and SNAP. As soon as I realized this, I got back on WIC and it has drastically helped our food bills. Also, don't forget free community meals and food pantries, at least to help you get by for a while. Most work on an honor system and won't check your income, and there are all varieties of people there. If you can even reduce your grocery costs by one trip a month, there's at least a $100 savings!
I know how you feel--we are trying to figure out how to buy a new car to fit the extra baby, when we barely have enough leftover each month to put into savings for a down payment. It has gone down to bare bones around here!