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Monday, January 7, 2013
So, this is in part an angry blog post. Thora and I just went to the YMCA to join for the winter. They have free babysitting for members, so it actually makes real exercise doable for us. We went and applied for the financial assistance version, because our income is very low. The lady who took our paystubs and applications first of all thought we were lying about our income, and second of all thought we were crazy for wanting to pay for a gym membership when we have so little income. I got really flustered and embarrassed. Now I'm going to write a blog post of what I wish I could have explained to her.
I am going to talk about our actual income, not because I am whining or bragging, but because I think it is IMPORTANT for people to talk honestly about money. Our society is financially ignorant, and I believe it is due to people not talking about money with honesty while simultaneously being addicted to shopping. So I'm sorry if you think this post is in poor taste. But you should think about changing your mind.
So here's our budget. It's pretty much the same every month:
Tithing and fast offering: 151.80
Electricity: 70 average
Gas: 50 average
Gas for car:150
Samuel's allowance: 16
Clothing and kid stuff: 20
Vacations to see family: 40
Home supplies (toothpaste, soap): 60
Savings for emergencies: 100
Left over:$271.20 -minus $29.95 to the YMCA. HA!
Yes, there is no food category, because we are currently on food stamps. But we are planning to get off them when they expire in June. I am tired of being on them. We have been enormously grateful for them, but I feel comfortable enough with our income now to stop using them. I also want to build up more savings, which makes you ineligible for food stamps. We also use and are enormously grateful for Medicaid. It is only for kids' checkups, emergencies, and pregnancy. If we lived in a midwife-friendly state I would totally do homebirths and pay for them myself. But since Ohio hasn't seen the light yet, I go to a women's health care practice and the hospital, and use Medicaid to pay for it instead of paying OSU's high prices for family health insurance, or paying out of pocket. When Samuel has a real job, we will pay for our own healthcare, and/or pay real-job taxes for government healthcare programs. We are ok with that.
Samuel got a $2000 scholarship last year and we use that to pay for books, his laptop, and other school expenses and occasionally family expenses. It's not even half gone yet.
Tax return: last year we got $8700 from this. Add up all the witholding, two child tax credits, and a bunch of earned income credit, and it is a lot of money. Last year we used it to buy a van because our station wagon had 323,000 miles on it. We had to spend it all in order to stay eligible for food stamps (this is why we're NOT getting food stamps again).
This year, we have some financial goals. Our income and budget will stay pretty much the same (unless my etsy shop really takes off, which I am working towards). So there's not much planning to do there. But a major goal we have is to 1. Have 6 months worth of expenses in emergency savings -about $7000 and 2. Save up major $$$$$$ for a down payment for when Samuel graduates, gets a real job, etc.
The planning part comes with the tax return. Of course, there is no guarantee what it will amount to. We won't know until it's deposited in our bank account, hopefully in the next couple months. But, let't just say it comes out to $7000. It might be much less, of course. But just for rough planning....
-770 tithing and fast offering
My plan for food (if we get enough from our tax return) is to join two CSAs -a meat one and a fruit/veg one. Total, these cost $1400. In theory, they would provide fruit, veg, meat, eggs, and milk for 9 months of the year, which is about $155 per month. Totally worth it for the healthiest food money can buy. I am planning to spend $350 per month or less on food, so we will nees $2805 total for food all year, in theory.
We will set by $1000 for home improvement projects
And the rest will go into savings. By the time Samuel graduates in about 3 years, maybe more, we should have at least $7275 saved up, probably more (all dependant on the tax return though. But since our lives don't actually depend on this theoretical financial plan working out, I am ok with theorizing). There is a lot of slop room in this plan. Secretly I'm hoping to spend much less on food staples, thanks to food storage we've built up and been given by family. I'm hoping to use up the food storage, thereby spending very little, and having less stuff to pack up and move when Samuel graduates. I'm also planning to get into a legitimate daily working schedule for my etsy shop, treating it as a part-time job instead of a hobby, with the hope that I'll start bringing in a part-time income.
The woman at the YMCA hinted that she thought we should either 1. be working or 2. that we were lying about not living off of student loans.
I don't really know how much I would be able to make, but the expenses that would pop up due to me being out of the home would include:
Daycare for 2 children
A second car?
Higher food bills due to less time cooking, grinding wheat, gardening, preserving, baking, etc.
High costs for home things due to not having time to make/do: laundry detergent, shampoo, cloth diapers, diy home improvement, sewing
Some reasons why we don't need student loans:
Samuel gets paid to go to school (this is our income) (thankyouthankyou)
Housing is dirt cheap here, and we are ok with living in a somewhat sketchy (but really not bad at all) part of town
We bought our van with cash
We don't have a cell phone contract
We don't have cable tv
We rarely eat out, and we never go out drinking
We go to the dollar movie theater
We get 99% of our clothes from thrift stores or hand me downs, or made using inexpensive fabric
We don't buy many electronics
We have no credit card debt to pay off, and actually decided to quit using our credit card a few months ago to be more disciplined, and it seems to work.
In short, having no student loans is totally doable for our family right now. And we might have a little more money if I worked 9-5, but probably not much. And we wouldn't be eating as healthily, which might mean poorer health and the expenses that come with that. I'm not against ever working outside the home, in fact, I do get sick of being a SAHM sometimes. But what I love about it is the flexibility. One day I might be in the mood for puttering in the kitchen, so I make a bunch of freezer meals, grind a bunch of wheat, make some buckets of laundry detergent, make some granola for breakfasts. Another day, I might want to sew all day long, so I put a freezer meal in the crock pot and do just that. Another day I might feel like cleaning or organizing. On a typical day, I'll spend 4 hours working in my studio, do maintenance cleaning and laundry, and make lunch and dinner. Today, I ran an errand (YMCA) and wrote a massive blog post. I might go grocery shopping, and I will do some painting prep work in the bathroom. The point is, I love my flexible life.
There are times when I wish we had more money. Last summer when we had to get a new sink to continue our bathroom reno, we had about $50 to spend. We bought two used sinks (one for the sink, one for the faucet) and about a million tiny things over the course of several trips to Lowe's to make it work. In the middle of all that, I really wanted to just buy a new sink and pay a plumber to install it. But that would have cost a few hundred dollars. So there are times....
But I have learned to never whine about how little you have, because there is ALWAYS alway always someone who has less, or who has to use student loans to get a degree, or who has very poor health and can't support themselves, or have few opportunities in life due to things beyond their control. I try to be content with what we do have, and be grateful for how bright our future looks.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
2012 was a really eventful year. Aside from the many projects and events, including my first garden, preserving food from that garden, sewing several things for myself and my kids, running my etsy shop and doing two craft shows, tiling my bathroom, getting a dog, having PPD, attending my grandpa's funeral and two of my siblings' weddings, I feel like I grew a lot last year.
Most of my thoughts on this are more appropriate for a private journal than a blog post, but I will share a little.
i have realized this year that for a very long time i haven't been allowing spiritual things into my life. I habitually explain away spiritual things. I do feel the Spirit in church, but in daily life I would not allow myself to. By letting my practical side rule, I somehow manage to blot out almost all spiritual things. It's like all spiritual/magical/mystical/symbolic/otherworldly things all belong in the same room in my brain, and i can either open the door and let them all out, or close it and lock them all away out of sight. The result is feeling bored, like I'm drifting, and have a poor sense of who I am. so i've had to do a few things differently to open that door. I have started reading fantasy novels again. i have been listening to more of my favorite music. when wondering whether to attribute a fortuitous event to God's blessing or happenstance, i choose God's blessing, no matter how silly it seems. i've been gardening. i've been going on walks by myself. i've been trying harder to listen to my sense of style while decorating and choosing clothes. That last part may sound silly, but for me, beautiful surroundings are often closely tied to how spiritual I feel. One need only visit the house of the Lord and take note of the furnishings and decor to see that this is a significant point.
as a result of focusing on these things, i have a better sense of self. after a long time, i finally have a sense of personal style again. I feel a great love for my body and the world and all of the beautiful gifts in it. i feel spiritual notions and promptings constantly -things that, previously, i rolled my eyes at when others would talk about them. i feel less dead to the world's sensations. i enjoy going to the temple. i feel better prepared emotionally as a mother. I feel happier, like i have a sense of purpose and direction for myself as an individual. I feel more confident and powerful.
I chose a theme word for 2013: MIGHTY
Scripture of the year is: Isaiah 40:28-31
28 ¶Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
My goal for 2013 is to be mighty, specifically to have more strength and stamina in my daily life. I get tired a lot and I know it is mostly due to diet and lack of exercise. I don't do well with specific, will-power, sheer grit and determination type goals -like the scripture says, I utterly fall. But God can change my heart. I am much more successful when I focus on inner work, prayer, thinking, and striving for that change of heart. And as that starts to happen, changing my habits becomes much easier. The inner work and change of heart have already started to happen over the past year (I'm fed up with being wimpy!) so I'm using that momentum to start exercising and continue eating more mindfully in the year to come, with the hope that I will become stronger.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I read recently in an Arthurian romance -Eric and Enid vv6713- a passage where music was described as something magical and valuable, worthy of being carved and depicted on a king's throne, along with geometry, arithmatic, and astronomy. When I read that I thought it was strange, until I remembered that they had no recorded music. Hearing music was truly a rare experience for people in the middle ages, at least rarer than for us. However, all of their music would have been live, and much of it communal I think. Music was something they enjoyed wholly -not something they half listened to while performing other tasks. How many people would go to an orchestral concert and then do homework the entire time? But many people listen to classical music while studying. Recorded music just doesn't have that same power.
On the other hand, I have had many memorable experiences with recorded music. I do use music in the background while working, and it adds another sensory layer to the moment/day. Recorded music brings up memories so vividly and quickly compared to, say, a photo or journal entry of the memory. For example, I can't listen to Beethoven's Ode to Joy part of his ninth symphony without being emotionally brought back to several times in my life when I would put my earbuds on, turn up that song super loud, lie on my back on the floor, close my eyes, and let that song take over the unbearable emotions I was feeling. Usually the emotions were due to being unlucky in love...maybe that's why I haven't done that in years ;) Anyway, if i had simply written a journal entry about it, I wouldn't be able to experience the memory quite as emotionally. Maybe that speaks to my lack of skill as a writer, but I think there is true magic in it as well.
And on that note, I'll stop writing now and go listen to more Jethro Tull. Here's some videos for you. Not that they even compare :)
Friday, November 2, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
halloween 2006: the event where amuel and i really started pursuing each other. that was one of the best parties i ever went to ;) i believe we finally said goodnight at midnight, long after the party was over. i did have to work for an hour or two within that time to help strike a show, but he waited outside the HFAC until i was done.
i won the costume contest at that party (i was a jellyfish, but you can't tell from this photo. i had a clear umbrella with tendrils of bubble wrap taped inside it)
samuel is wearing his super awesome jedi costume. it is really fantastic, and completely designed by him.
we start planning our halloween costumes in july most years. we mix and match homemade and purchased pieces. we do spend a bit of money on them, but don't just buy a complete costume outright. i think i spent around $30 for the jellyfish costume, and $50 for the old west gunslinger costume of this year -most of that for the toy gun. samuel's jedi costume probably amounts to hundreds of dollars...even though the amazing lace-up leather boots were from the thrift store! most of that money went to the custom light sabre. this year, he spent around $100 for his gunslinger costume. we use thrift stores, ebay, DIY, and birthday money/allowance to make our costumes.
Monday, October 29, 2012
and here is peter, the vampire baby, during dinner
at one point guinevere and abraham were missing. we found them by the food table, hoarding a bag of chips, like this:
proper costume post coming later this week!