Making Ends Meet

Making Ends MeetAs I write this, my laptop is sitting on an empty box of diapers, and a line from an Eminem song runs through my mind – ‘these @#$$#% food stamps don’t buy diapers!’ My next payday isn’t until next week, and I’m praying the diapers we have will hold out until then.

I work from home, because there is no point in getting a traditional job – by the time I finish paying for daycare, I might as well not be getting a pay check. That’s assuming that I can get a first shift job, or find a day care that has night hours. And most customer service work in this area (all my recent work experience is call center customer service) is 2nd shift.

So, between all of that, I kind of gave up on a traditional job a few month ago, after I briefly tried temp work which ended in disaster.

I read somewhere recently that it costs half a million USD to raise a child, not counting college expenses. If they are factoring medical costs and especially the hospital bills from giving birth (which thankfully insurance covered) I can totally believe it. Well, sort of. Even with medical costs it seems astonishing. One of these days I’m going to sit down and do the math myself. Because that works out to spending nearly $30,000 a year on one child – and I’ve known people who were successfully raising more than 1 child on an income of just $30,000 a year – and doing it without government assistance except for medical coverage.

Regardless of the real ‘cost’ of raising children, no one I know will deny that money is definitely a critical necessity. And one I’m struggling to keep up with. I try to avoid ‘creative bookkeeping’ (taking from one budget item to pay another) as much as possible, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Craigslist and Freecycle are G-d-sends, I buy as little new as I possibly can, which has the benefit of reducing the amount of waste getting dumped in landfills around here. I’m working on my sewing skills – I can do basic repairs and make simple clothing. I’m hoping within a few years to be making almost all our wardrobe. Bonus there – people are always putting up bags of old clothes on Freecycle, but rarely in the sizes we need. Once I’m good enough, I can take the clothes that are two big, and take them in, or cut the fabric up for kids clothes.

The one area that I don’t follow this philosophy in is diapers. Cloth diapers are reusable, cheaper in the long run then disposables have no chemicals, and are, in my opinion, all together the better option. ESPECIALLY from a financial standpoint. And I still shell out over $50 a month on diapers – well, I do, or my parents (who have been a big help in the money department) do it for me. Because bluntly, I’m having enough trouble keeping up with laundry as it is.

Which brings me back to this empty box of diapers, the couple handfuls of loose ones on the changing table, and praying they will last until next week’s pay check.