Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Making it Work

Two years ago when the idea of starting a family first snuck into my little brain....okay you've seen my forehead, apparently I have a giant brain, I just don't use all of it....there were a lot of worries going through my head. How would we afford a kid when there are still months when we are eating Ramen and counting down the days until our next paycheck? How would we ever pay for daycare? Since obviously not being able to afford food means there isn't an extra $500/month to spare. When I started voicing concerns like these to friends of mine who have children the response seemed to always be "things just work themselves out". As an uber-freakish-planner, you can imagine how well the thought of just letting things work themselves out goes with me. I break out in hives just thinking that there are areas of my life that I don't have total control over. Of course, once you hit that infertility wall you quickly realize there are lots of things outside of your control in life. I guess it is good training for learning to go with the flow.
I spent the several months between when I first started thinking about a family and when I got off the pill working on figuring things out. We modified our finances so that we wouldn't have months of Ramen eating (although there are always exceptions to that rule). I still wasn't sure how I was going to come up with the extra money necessary for childcare and such, but decided that 9 months would probably be enough time to figure it out. Then Andy started school and thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill we were able to figure out a way to make things work so that he could go to school full-time and not work. It began as a trial for us. We were going to see how the first semester worked. We had to cut back on a lot! But it was important to me for him to see that he could handle school and I thought the best way to do that would be for him to just be able to fully focus on it. Well our lives were definitely different, no more going to comedy shows every other weekend and eating out several times a week, but in reality we didn't really notice the difference when push came to shove. I think our quality of life skyrocketed in all actuality. Andy was considerably happier, which most likely had to do with not being stuck in a sucky dead-end security job where he stared at TV monitors all day. The saying 'if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy' I think can be reversed for dudes as well. It isn't that I wasn't happy before, but when he started enjoying life a lot more, I started enjoying life a lot more. Our marriage got more fun.
We lost about 15% of our income when he left his job, but it was worth it. Once we figured out how to make things work with less income, all the other benefits of it started to become apparent. When I realized that this situation would actually reduce the need for significant childcare, I fell in love with it even more. Of course that doesn't save me from all uncertainty or worry. There is still the thought of how to pay for the midwife, how to pay for the childcare we will need, where is the best place to look for childcare: near the house, near his school, near my work, etc. etc. There are a million concerns still left to be answered, but I think we found a solution for a few things. If there is one thing I hate more than anything it is debt. I constantly think about the amount of money I still owe in student loans. Add onto that the house, Andy's truck, and I am surprised I am not in some facility with padded rooms. When I think about the amount of money going out of our checking account each month and the teeny tiny bit of it we are able to scrape into savings, it is hard to feel like we will ever get to the other side. I think the only way I keep myself sane is each time I pass the Powerball billboard I think 'I am going to win that and everything will be okay'. Granted I never play Powerball. I realize that is the key to having any chance of winning. But in reality it only increases your odds by a teeny tiny fraction. Despite never playing, every once in a while Andy and I will daydream about what we would do with all that money. He usually asks with a glimmer in his eye just anxiously waiting for me to finish my list of wishes so he can jump in with the things he would love to have. My response is usually 'I would pay off all our loans and then I would wait 6 months before I spent anything else'. He is usually like 'What? That's Boring!'. But I think it is smart to give yourself time to adjust to that amount of money. Come up with a good plan for it, a smart 'live off of it for the rest of your life' plan. I wouldn't quit my job, I wouldn't go out and buy a new car, I would just sit there and revel in the amount of money in my savings. After I got used to the idea and had a solid responsible plan for it, then I would start making the life changes. What a dork right?
Whoa I have obviously gone off on a giant tangent. Anyway, like I was saying debt=hives, but when we started looking at making things work for nugget, it was definitely starting to stress us both out. And to me stress isn't worth it. After filling out Andy's FAFSA for this next school year, we got a letter in the mail saying we were eligible for some student loans. At first I was thinking we should reject them. But I think we were both on the same page with the thought that this could really help solve a few worries. It won't solve everything and I hate borrowing knowing that someday we will have to pay the piper. However, it seems like a good solution to alleviating a lot of worries. We will be able to pay for the midwife and not have to worry about trying to go on the Ramen diet for the next 6 months to do it. Something tells me Ramen is not a well-rounded meal.
As for other unknowns we are figuring those out as we go. I am planning on getting a crib off of craigslist and have already started cataloging what friends have available as they move out of the baby stage. At the end of the day, things will work out. Maybe not as perfectly as they could have if we won Powerball. But they are working out just the same. I look back on my early doubts after hearing my friends say 'everything just works itself out'. It certainly appears to be a true statement. We all have different worries. Healthcare costs, maternity leave, childcare, etc. The list could go on forever. In truth I will spend the rest of my life trying to problem solve different situations that we will face. I am not worried, I have always been pretty good at solving problems, let's just hope I get most of my brain capacity back.


  1. I think we're a lot alike - I'm a huge planner, and IF has definitely made me realize a little break from that mentality, as much as I don't want to. I'm glad you're figuring shit out - at least school loans have a super low APR!

  2. Same here! I planned when I wanted to get engaged, when I wanted to get married, and it's driving me NUTS that I can't plan when I get pregnant! You will be great at figuring everything out for your little nugget. Student loans are probably the best option out there and that's nice that you are eligible since Andy is in school.

  3. Things do work out - not always as you had hoped, but they do work out. I think sometimes it's easier to let go of the wheel and see where the pieces land than to try and force them into where you think they should be.