Friday, November 03, 2006

The Moment of Truth

It's happened. We are really, truly, officially, a one-income family now. Meaning, the money in my private practice checking account--income from my business that I closed last June in preparation for the arrival of baby #2--has run out. It only lasted four months, mainly because having a baby is damned expensive. Even more expensive when your lousy health insurance didn't cover nearly as much of your C-section and subsequent 72-hour hospital stay as you had hoped and expected. (Good Lord, those bills! Those bills that come every single day in the mail, one after the other after the other when you swear this must truly be the last one, and how is it possible that they are going to ask for more money? And HOW much did they charge me for the IV???)

It is totally terrifying to realize that the one checkbook? That's IT. There's no other money. No other money for Target, for groceries, for the monthly townhouse association fee, for hair appointments, for Christmas gifts. No other money for the gargantuan student loan payment you owe every month and will until you're sixty. No other money for the exorbitant hip-college-town property tax. NO OTHER MONEY. Yikes.

I've done some previous writing about the choices--and the anxieties--that go along with staying home full-time when Christopher's income doesn't fully cover our living expenses. Luckily, he has some opportunities ahead for some extra work--part-time, evening, contract-teaching gigs--to bring in a little more income for our family. That helps, but all I can think is, I really, really, really don't want to reach the moment where I am forced to return to work before our family is ready, strictly to bring more dollars into our house each month. But it's starting to feel a little bit inevitable.

9 comments:

Heidi said...

Can you re-consolidate your school loan at all, considering you are down in income? Check on that....

Shan said...

Thanks for reminding me! Our friends Elise and Chad suggested that a few months ago and I totally forgot to check into it!

Question said...

This is a timely post. My brother and his wife made it one year. She went back to work this week, part-time,(nights and weekends at the Eddie Bauer outlet for a remarkable $12.00/hour) because they found themselves putting stuff on the credit card they shouldn't (like groceries) and really didn't have anything saved for Christmas presents. They are also on WIC, which helps, but really, how many jars of peanut butter can one family consume? It really bugs me that we don't value the at-home mom more.

Shan said...

Yep, I hear you. I have thought, too, that as soon as the credit card starts being used for necessities, I've got to find something (even if it is part-time evening retail!). There is a really good essay at the web magazine Mothers Movement Online right now by writer Tracy Thompson about some of these issues....www.mothersmovement.org

Jim said...

Shannon, when one is broke where is the best place to go?

Shan said...

Um, is that last comment a riddle? Is the answer, 'As far away from Target as possible?'

Heidi said...

I doubt you guys would qualify for WIC on CJ's salary, but I suppose you could try... It's not just pb; it's lots and lots of milk. And it can be dried beans, peas, or lentils INSTEAD of pb. I don't know if the scale is based on the county in which you live or if it's standard across the country. We no longer qualify on OUR salaries, so that tells you something.

Shan said...

Yeah, I know we wouldn't qualify for WIC. But, it's still true that in our community, housing costs are astronomical, and C.'s salary, which would go a long way in, say, Moorhead, is a budgeting challenge here. Of course, our huge student loan payments don't help and those would exist no matter where we lived!

Donna said...

Although you don't qualify, I'm still happy to tell you they are re-doing the WIC package to be healthier and have more options! In fact, I think they released the new package earlier this year.