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any budgeting advice?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
  • 770 - Mortgage
  • 223 - Car payment (second car is paid off)
  • 575 - Childcare (I work fulltime)
  • 125 - Life insurance
  • 65 - Car insurance
  • 405 - Health insurance
  • 100 - Power
  • 45 - Internet
  • 35 - Gas (heating, cooking)
  • 30 - Water
  • 145 - Student Loan (Me)
  • 350 - Student Loan (DH)
  • 100 - Discretionary money (Me)
  • 100 - Discretionary money (DH)
  • 100 - Medical co-pays
  • 100 - Gas for car (Me)
  • 100 - Gas for car (DH)
  • 50 - Pet needs (Food etc.)
  • 500 - Groceries
  • 140 - Cell phone
  • 4058 - Total


Over four thousand dollars just for the basics! I think all of our costs--mortgage, childcare, etc--are fairly moderate for where we live. Our house is definitely at the lower end of what you can spend, and we put a lot down as well. Too much, I think now, since we have no cushion anymore. The internet and cell phone are absolutely necessary for DH's business, and at least they are deductible, but that doesn't help us much until tax time.

On a good month we might have $4500 in income and everything gets paid. In a bad month...well, it's bad. At this point I think we have pretty much exhausted all alternative sources of funding.

I'm thinking about applying for child care assistance. Based on just my income, we would qualify and the subsidy would pay about half the monthly bill. I don't exactly know how it works with DH being self-employed, though. We don't know we're having a bad month until we're already in the thick of it and it's a bit late to be applying for help.

I've done the math on whether it's even worth it for me to work--if I should just quit and get food stamps and medicaid like other mamas here. But I guess you only get medicaid for your kids? DH has medical issues that make it unwise for us to go without major health coverage, which we get through my job.

We do not fit the definition of poverty in the months we are making $4500 (that's $54K a year!), but we are definitely not getting ahead or putting any money away for things like car repairs, lower-income months, let alone retirement. DH just broke his glasses and had to have a new pair--we got a great deal at Costco, only $98 for a really sharp new pair--but it was $98 we really couldn't spare this month.

I honestly don't know how other families get by and how DH and I can be so smart about some things but so dumb about this.

I think we could do better on groceries but cooking is DH's area and it is a constant fight to get him to make more modest meals. We should all have the problem of a husband who loves to make gourmet meals, right :LOL . It's a very difficult thing to complain about: "Stop buying all that organic food and making healthy 4-course meals from scratch, right now!" It also helps me in not buying lunch to always have good leftovers.

We are changing our life insurance to a different company that will cost a little less. I think we will save about $50/month for the same coverage. It scares the bejeesus out of me to think of having a child and not having life insurance for both parents.

I don't know what else to add...does anyone have any thoughts on our situation?
post #2 of 29
Thread Starter 
Is it hopeless then? I've just been wondering about the mamas here who say they get by on like $20K/year for a family of 5 or whatever. I think we could cut our bills down by maybe 10-15% if we worked REALLY hard at it--things like hanging out our laundry to dry, and I am trying to coordinate carpooling with another mama who happens to live, work, and use daycare all pretty close to where I do. The drawback is these things take TIME, which in a both-parents-working household there is already such a shortage of. Carpooling with this other mama could save me $5/day but will easily add 45-60 minutes to my overall commute...which is less time for hanging laundry out to dry, or preparing lunches for school/work the next day...you get the picture.

I am working on a plan to be a WAHM, which will reduce a lot of our expenses, but it's a ways off--six months at the least, and we really need to build up a cushion FIRST, which just seems impossible.
post #3 of 29
No advice right now, but I will think on it today! Hugs to you and congrats for making the step in looking at your budget and *wanting* to make it better!

Where do you work, what do you do? What type of child care do you have? Is it a type of job that you could choose to go part time and work at home part time? Or just look at the budget the way it would be if you worked partime and found another mama working PT to share child care with? Could you arrange your schedule with your dh so that he is watching dc part of the time you work so money is not constantly flowing to another caregiver?
Are your insurance rates up to date? They like to raise them often, you might check with a broker to find the least expensive rate for what you need. I don't know the medical situation in your family but 125 a month for life insurance seems really high. Of course the 65 for auto is great!
Could you use less minutes on the cell? Do you use all the minutes you are paying for? My best friend and I share minutes for years and we found that we could keep lowering them by being careful and using the pcs to pcs calling as much as possible until our bill for two phones was only like 85 dollars a month.
Maybe try to cut down just a tad on groceries? Does your DH menu plan? That can save alot just by knowing ahead of time how to get the most out of your meals. If you spend 500/mo right now maybe just say 100 week, which would save you 70 bucks a month but you are only cutting like 17 dollars a week which seems alot easier you know?
I don't know much about student loans, are they already at a low rate? Because if not, you could go to your bank and talk to someone about combining yours and your dh's loans and possibly get a lower rate and most likely a lower paymnt every month.

I will think of more!

I guess I did have some advice! Rambles, whatever.....HTH
post #4 of 29
Your life insurance cost jumped out at me, but that sounds temporary at this point (it will be going down soon).

What does your $200 discretionary cover?

How much longer will you have the car payment? The student loans?

Do you actually spend $100 monthly on medical co-pays, is that averaged over the year or are you just being safe by budgeting that much (worse case scenario)?

Have you looked into a different cell plan? $140 monthly seems a lot to me, but I don't know what DH's work needs are.

How about groceries? We spend a *lot* more than that, but we've spent a *lot* less than that in the past (and I'm assuming based on your mortgage you live in a lower cost of living area, though you could have just owned for a lot longer than us).

You can looking into your state's Family Health Insurance Assistance Program to find out about possible coverage/subsidy of your current coverage.

My first questions about debt repayment, though, make a HUGE difference. Between your car payment & students loans that is over $600 right there. If they will be "disappearing" any time soon, that is a significant chunk.
post #5 of 29
A few things jump out at me:
Is there cheaper internet service where you live? $45 is a lot. We spend $80 CDN because we bundle our full cable service plus high speed.

Can you start bulk purchasing the gourmet ingredients? You know, stock up on good veggies during the summer and freeze them. Get DH into cooking ethnic foods which often cost less (curries cost less than bernaise sauces) and maybe limit fancy meals to, say, Monday and Friday with more humble, but still tasty meals the rest of the time. Can he plan his gourmet meals by what is on sale instead of deciding what he wants to make and then going shopping?

I would not suggest quitting if your health insurance is through your work, especially if your DH has medical issues. Actually, there is one way. Does your insurance provider have a continuing coverage plan? Basically, you can keep your coverage for x amount per month even when you are no longer covered by your employer's plan. It might be something to look into if you want to be a WAHM.

Can you get creative with your work hours? My mom worked 3-12 hour days when we were kids so that she only had to get childcare for 2 days per week (she worked Sunday-monday-tuesday) My dad would drop us off and pick us up, so we only really spent 8 or 9 hours per day, 2 days per week in daycare. That cost a lot less than full-time.

$140 also seems like a lot for a cel phone. you may want to investigate other plans. We pay about $85 for 2 phones and all of the minutes we go over per month (they are our only phones)

Could you use your cars less on weekends? You know, combining trips and such to use less gas. Walking to the park for the day instead of driving to the zoo, etc.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bella Babe
Where do you work, what do you do? What type of child care do you have? Is it a type of job that you could choose to go part time and work at home part time? Or just look at the budget the way it would be if you worked partime and found another mama working PT to share child care with? Could you arrange your schedule with your dh so that he is watching dc part of the time you work so money is not constantly flowing to another caregiver?
I work at a college doing web design. I could very easily do my job from home but it is not allowed. And there is no way I could go part-time. Ideally I would do freelance work from home. I am working on the marketing for that now but I think it will take some time to build to a level that it is reasonable to quit my job.

As for the daycare bill, we JUST got our son into a preschool we like with consistent hours and caregivers. Prior to now we were cobbling together help from family (SIL & MIL), hourly babysitters, and DH filling in the gaps, and it was way too complicated. It wasn't even saving us all that much money, since the sitters cost a lot more per hour than fulltime child care. It is actually a relief at this point to just drop him off and pick him up at the same place and time every day and write one check at the beginning of the month, and know we don't have to worry about it beyond that. Ideally--DS would just go to the morning program maybe 4 days/week, which would cost about half as much, and I would work from home during those hours and make as much money as I make working fulltime now (my current salary is so pitiful that that is not a crazy goal, actually).

Quote:
Are your insurance rates up to date? They like to raise them often, you might check with a broker to find the least expensive rate for what you need. I don't know the medical situation in your family but 125 a month for life insurance seems really high.
Is it? We have $500,000 coverage on each of us. My premium is actually quite low, the high part is on DH. He's in his 40s and is not "preferred" because he has high cholesterol and takes anti-depressants. But like I said, we are going to a new company that has quoted much lower rates for both of us. I just had my medical exam yesterday and DH's is next week so hopefully we can get that changed very soon.

Quote:
Could you use less minutes on the cell? Do you use all the minutes you are paying for? My best friend and I share minutes for years and we found that we could keep lowering them by being careful and using the pcs to pcs calling as much as possible until our bill for two phones was only like 85 dollars a month.
We have a zillion minutes shared over three phones--two of the phones are for DH's business. He works in two different areas of the state so he maintains a local number for both areas. I think we should dump one of them tho. He doesn't have that many clients anymore in the one area and I just don't know if it's worth paying for the extra phone--I think we're charged an extra $20/month for it. We've looked at our minutes a few times and it seems like he does generally use them. He doesn't go over, but he would if we were on a lower tier plan.

Quote:
I don't know much about student loans, are they already at a low rate? Because if not, you could go to your bank and talk to someone about combining yours and your dh's loans and possibly get a lower rate and most likely a lower paymnt every month.
The student loans are at 3.5% so we're doing pretty good there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiredX2
What does your $200 discretionary cover?
Haircuts, lunch out if we forget to pack one, birthday gifts for family, that sort of thing. Sometimes I'll go wild and buy myself a couple shirts at Goodwill. It doesn't go very far, kwim?

Quote:
How much longer will you have the car payment? The student loans?
Car payments for about another 2 years. The student loans FOREVER. Okay seriously, they're 20 year payment schedules and we've been paying for 3 years. So we'll be done paying on them right about when DS is ready to start college himself.

Quote:
Do you actually spend $100 monthly on medical co-pays, is that averaged over the year or are you just being safe by budgeting that much (worse case scenario)?
DH takes 3 meds that come to a total of $85 in monthly co-pays. Add in one office visit for one of the three of us per month (totally realistic) which has a $15 co-pay and we are at $100 already, before anything else comes up, like dentist or optical for example. So $100 is actually the BEST-case scenario. I have $100 deducted from my check each month and put directly into an MSA so we save a little that way.

Quote:
How about groceries? We spend a *lot* more than that, but we've spent a *lot* less than that in the past (and I'm assuming based on your mortgage you live in a lower cost of living area, though you could have just owned for a lot longer than us).
Our house is very modest. I think the cost of living for our area is about average, or even a little higher. We just bought our place and we were able to get a little bit of a summer garden in, but I'm hoping next year we will have a substantial garden to eat from all summer long.

Thanks both of you for the feedback!
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Throkmorton
Is there cheaper internet service where you live? $45 is a lot. We spend $80 CDN because we bundle our full cable service plus high speed.
This is JUST internet. We don't even have cable TV, if you can believe it. No TV at all. That is the lowest price for broadband, and given the natuer of both mine and DH's work we think it would be counter-productive to use dial-up.

Quote:
Can you start bulk purchasing the gourmet ingredients? You know, stock up on good veggies during the summer and freeze them. Get DH into cooking ethnic foods which often cost less (curries cost less than bernaise sauces) and maybe limit fancy meals to, say, Monday and Friday with more humble, but still tasty meals the rest of the time. Can he plan his gourmet meals by what is on sale instead of deciding what he wants to make and then going shopping?
These are very good suggestions, and he's getting better. He goes shopping just about every other day and buys whatever meat is on sale and plans a meal around that.

Quote:
I would not suggest quitting if your health insurance is through your work, especially if your DH has medical issues. Actually, there is one way. Does your insurance provider have a continuing coverage plan? Basically, you can keep your coverage for x amount per month even when you are no longer covered by your employer's plan. It might be something to look into if you want to be a WAHM.
If you're talking about COBRA that is like a zillion dollars a month! I wouldn't buy that unless we had a chronic health issue, seriously. We do have some other options for health insurance that are in the range of $700-900 per month if we decided to purchase it on our own so that I could WAH. It's rather frightening that it would cost more than our mortgage, though, when you think about it.

Quote:
Can you get creative with your work hours? My mom worked 3-12 hour days when we were kids so that she only had to get childcare for 2 days per week (she worked Sunday-monday-tuesday) My dad would drop us off and pick us up, so we only really spent 8 or 9 hours per day, 2 days per week in daycare. That cost a lot less than full-time.
No flexibility at all. They wouldn't even let me shift my hours by 30 minutes.

Quote:
Could you use your cars less on weekends? You know, combining trips and such to use less gas. Walking to the park for the day instead of driving to the zoo, etc.
That is the great thing about where we live--we are downtown and can walk to lots of things. Unfortunately I pay for it with my long commute to work during the week. Again, being a WAHM would solve that particular issue.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday
If you're talking about COBRA that is like a zillion dollars a month! I wouldn't buy that unless we had a chronic health issue, seriously. We do have some other options for health insurance that are in the range of $700-900 per month if we decided to purchase it on our own so that I could WAH. It's rather frightening that it would cost more than our mortgage, though, when you think about it.
Ouch! See, I am in Canada, so my continuing coverage for extended medical cost me $30/month. I assumed it would be similar to what you are already paying.

Other food suggestions: could you buy a side of beef, or a quarter? Split it with someone? We pay $2.00/lb cut and wrapped for a side so even the club steaks cost the same as lean ground grocery store meat. That is grass fed, antibiotic-free beef too. Including our small deep freeze (only 24" wide) this still cost less than buying meat at the grocery store. We get our beef at christmas so by the time summer and veggies roll around the meat is 1/2 gone and we can freeze tomatoes and stuff for the winter.

Seasonal veggies are obviously cheaper, but they are also fresher. We tend to get local produce over organic which is shipped. It costs less, and hasn't been sitting in a shipping container for a week.
post #9 of 29
Cell phone- have you looked into SunCom? When our contract is up we are going to them. $100/mo for nationwide long distance. Check into that.

Student Loan- 3.5% is a great rate BUT over 20 years- ouch! I would try to get that out of the way. If your car is at a higher rate, get that paid off then put that payment towards the SL.

Discretionary spending- could you do without giving gifts? we simply told our friends, sorry we can't do gifts, but come over for diner and a movie or something like that. Hair cuts- is there a beauty college near you? there was one in my hometown where you could get a cut for $3.00. Forget the Goodwill shirts- that is about $10 here. Put that money towards one of the bills.

The best advice I can offer is get the highest interest thing paid off first (excluding your house, of course) and then apply that payment to the next one and so on. We did that and I was able to quit working before we had E and I went back to school for my MAR. We just bought a house so we have some debt related to that and just having a baby, but if we don't need it, we don't buy it.
post #10 of 29
Have you tried eating mostly vegetarian? We do that now that we lost my income and it has saved us quite a bit of money overall.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Throkmorton
Other food suggestions: could you buy a side of beef, or a quarter? Split it with someone? We pay $2.00/lb cut and wrapped for a side so even the club steaks cost the same as lean ground grocery store meat. That is grass fed, antibiotic-free beef too. Including our small deep freeze (only 24" wide) this still cost less than buying meat at the grocery store. We get our beef at christmas so by the time summer and veggies roll around the meat is 1/2 gone and we can freeze tomatoes and stuff for the winter.
I like the meat idea! And we are hoping to grow most of our produce next year. Thanks for the suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wausau74
Student Loan- 3.5% is a great rate BUT over 20 years- ouch! I would try to get that out of the way. If your car is at a higher rate, get that paid off then put that payment towards the SL.
DH is always saying that 3.5% is equivalent to inflation so there is no point paying it faster. I'm not sure I agree but I don't really have a counter-argument.

Quote:
Discretionary spending- could you do without giving gifts? we simply told our friends, sorry we can't do gifts, but come over for diner and a movie or something like that. Hair cuts- is there a beauty college near you? there was one in my hometown where you could get a cut for $3.00. Forget the Goodwill shirts- that is about $10 here. Put that money towards one of the bills.
We get haircuts at Great Clips, like $9 or so. I don't go that often anyway, maybe 2-3 times a year. We only give gifts to family and even then they're modest. We do give baby gifts to friends. Last weekend we visited an old, old friend of DH's who just had a baby. We gave her a really cute onesie from a boutique that had been marked down to $15, but looked more expensive, kwim? This is someone DH has known for 20 years, who came to our baby shower with a $50 gift, and then came after our son was born with ANOTHER gift. I just can't see showing up to meet her new baby empty-handed, you know?

We've been to three weddings in the past year without giving a gift at all. I'm horribly ashamed but what can you do. I'm more embarassed to give a $10 gift than nothing at all, which I tell myself might possibly be overlooked.

Goodwill shirts are $3 here and the store I shop at always has tons of brand-new overstocks/seconds from Talbot's, Eddie Bauer, etc. It's unbelievable. My size changed a lot since having DS and I have to look somewhat nice for work so it's kind of been a need. I'm pretty well set now though.

I'm a little worried about clothes for DS this winter but it seems like someone always comes through with a bag of hand-me-downs just when I'm sure we're down to the last 3 outfits that will fit. So I've got my fingers crossed. Shoes are hard, because kids his age (23 months) seem to trash their shoes before they outgrow them--but I'm asking MIL to give him shoes for his birthday and I'll probably ask again at Christmas. So I think he won't be barefoot in the snow!
post #12 of 29
I understand about the gifts. Maybe I should have said to the friends/family that would understand. One set of friends we just can't do that with but most understand.

Sounds like Goodwill is a good deal where you are. When you are there look for plus size maternity and try to sell them on ebay. that stuff goes fast.

Clothes for DS- look for the fall church consignment sales. I have found GREAT deals there. I know about a few of them in the Charlotte area.

Since your DH is fine with the student loan, I would just try to get the car paid off then apply that to the loan. Maybe you could tell him just because it is steady with inflation doesn't mean you have to maintain that loan for 20 years. Figure out the interest and show him how much it is. Maybe that will help. I know SL are cheap compared to many things, but I figure the governement should learn to be more wise in their spending and stop getting more of mine! :LOL Maintaining that loan for 20 years means you guys MUST have $1134 a month for just your mortage and SL. That would scare me to death.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wausau74
Sounds like Goodwill is a good deal where you are. When you are there look for plus size maternity and try to sell them on ebay. that stuff goes fast.
That's a great idea!

Quote:
Clothes for DS- look for the fall church consignment sales. I have found GREAT deals there. I know about a few of them in the Charlotte area.
I haven't had good luck with that...I've gone to consignment sales but it seems like clothes are $4-6 per piece and honestly that's too much. I stick to yard sales with $1/piece items but nobody's been selling 2T all summer long.

Quote:
Maintaining that loan for 20 years means you guys MUST have $1134 a month for just your mortage and SL. That would scare me to death.
I know! But he has an MBA and a law degree, you'd think we would see some return at some point.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Here's a discretionary item--DH's family is getting a house at the beach this month and we're invited to come out for Labor Day weekend. It's sort of assumed that if we come, we'll contribute to the cost of the house, so we declined. Then MIL said she would pay for our "share." But still just the cost of gas is a lot! And I hate being the poor relatives who don't contribute. Someone will propose going out to eat, or to mini-golf, or whatever, and we'll decline, and they'll say, "Oh we'll pay for you," and I'll just die that we can't provide it for ourselves.

It wasn't even that much fun last year, SIL & BIL were having a fight the whole time. I know DS is going to be absolutely miserable the entire way in the car (5 hours or so, and he doesn't do car trips very well.) But we kind of have to go.

I guess at this point I'm just venting in general...
post #15 of 29

As many hugs as I found!
I know sometimes it just is too much!
post #16 of 29
Hi,
We're pretty much in the same boat as you! As soon as we think we'll do okay for a month, we'll have something come up! I started WAH about 6 months ago, and that has really helped. hopefully that can help for you also soon

Life insurance... Is there a way that you could reevaluate what you need? We only have 100K on each of us, 20 year term. This is enough to pay off our mortgage and car payment if one of us should die, which could free up money for daycare for future dcs if needed in that situation. Its only 8/month each of us, but we're also in our 20s and in good health. Ideally, if I died, I would really want to leave DH with 1M, but we are not planning on us dieing, and mostly just decided to get life insurance that would keep the other out of bankrupsy (not going to look up how to spell that word...)

Can you call around and see if you can get a cheaper HOUSE insurance rate? They seem pretty competative? Don't know if that amount is in with your mortgage total or if that is a seperate bill. Maybe raise the deductible, etc.

Health insurance (lol, we've been doing a lot of insurance switching around, so insurance is fresh on my mind) is there a way you can keep DH on a low-deductible (like Blue Cross private insurance) and then put you and DS on a high deductible one? Or put DH and DS on a low deductible one and you on a high? Depending on who needs/uses what that might come out cheaper?

We have me on a 5K deductible for 78/month, and adding DCs to it will bring it up to 130/month.

Good luck. I hate money and am currently avoiding our budget... :P

Cara
post #17 of 29
I have a suggestion that is a bit more esoteric that I can't really find the answer to in any of your posts.

*Why* are you trying to cut back on expenses?

Are you bringing in enough money to meet your bills? Are you wanting to save for something specific?

Because *for me* it is very hard to just not spend as much $, kwim? But, if I have a specific reason or goal, I can measure how important that goal is against how important the stuff I am currently spending money on is.


I am NOT suggesting you get rid of your pets. But lets say you needed $50 a month extortion money for the mob of they would kill your child. I'd find it pretty easy to kick the pets to the curb if that was the only way to get an extra $50 monthy. If, meanwhile, I wanted $50 for an hour massage... suddenly the pet expense is more important to me.

I think if you had some kind of specific goal, in either $/month or item/experience/etc... it might be easier to decide where to cut back.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
The *why* of it is because DH's income has been so variable and there are months that it just hasn't been enough. So, if we can cut back, then maybe we can build up a little extra to tide us over on the months there is less cash flow. Also, since I want to WAH, we need to have built up some savings first. Currently about half our expenses are covered by my monthly salary, which we can depend on. What if I quit and then DH and I both had a bad month? We'd be looking at foreclosure on our home in very short order.

We have done the math on our pets, for sure. We re-homed our cat about a year ago with barely a second thought. We liked her, but not enough to choose cat food over groceries. Our dog, on the other hand, is 12 years old and has some annoying behavior issues and it's just inconceivable to me that we could find another home for her. On top of that she has food allergies and has to be on a special, expensive diet or her hair all falls out and her skin breaks out in raw sores. It's awful. For the last year and a half she was staying with a relative who was picking up most of the expense. But we just got her back, tonight in fact. I really don't know what to do about her.
post #19 of 29
I think that internet is REALLY pricey. We have PeoplePC and the bill is $10.95/month. We like it fine. Not as fast as high-speed, but not terribly slow either (and we're on the computer alot, so it we wouldn't have one that was slow).

I think the answer to WHY she needs more money is obvious... there is NO allocation for SAVINGS!!! That is SO important. Sounds like any emergency money would be put on credit cards, etc.

Your food bill sounds a little high, but not considering that you and your DH both work full-time. So you could see that going down if you quit your job.

In your 1st post, you mentioned quiting and getting kids on Medicade, etc. But not having health insurance for adults. We would ideally like to have health insurance, but we can't afford it right now, so the kids are on the State one, and we go to the North Carolina Free Clinics. I had never gone until recently, thinking they would be too weird or in a homeless shelter or somthing. It was really nice, just like a regular doctor's office with TONS of staff. Just a long wait (about 3 hrs. total) with really nice people who were mostly working-class folks without health insurance. There were also dentists there. Just something to remember

As far as the debt, if there is any more minimal a payment you can make on the student loans, you should pay off that car as soon as possible and then focus on the student loans. But if you already on a payment plan, then maybe that's not possible. You always want to pay off the smallest ones first.
post #20 of 29

I want to ask

" But we kind of have to go."

why?
you see I have btdt with the 'but we have to go for faaamily"
i finally started saying no. I don't give out reasons. When pushed 'why won't/can't you" I got to the point of saying 'the answer is still no'
Although certain relatives I will tell 'it is just not in the cards right now for us"

If they are not understanding then perhaps you don't need to be around them anyway? just a thought..

1) ds will be tired/cranky/hot etc from 5 hours in car
2) gas is nuts right now
3) you don't want the feeling of the poor relation or obligation that the 'we will pay for you ' comes with ( btdt too)
4) Last year wasn't exactly a great experience what makes this year going to be better?
5) I may be wrong but it sounds like you and dh and ds would enjoy each others company much more...
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