Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about money (well, more than usual since I pretty much always have the family budget in mind). I’m thinking about it for the obvious reasons: The economy is going down the toilet, and I’m praying my responsible-mortgage-owning-pay-all-bills-on-time butt can weather the storm. I’m thinking about it because we just did our taxes and, despite saving/paying a lot of dough last year, I still owe. A lot. (Hello, self employment tax!) And I’m thinking about it because we are considering having another child. In short, I just don’t know if we can afford it.
Last year, my husband and I made good money—more than ever. The funny thing, though, is that we do not feel any more wealthy. We still budget down to our last dollar each month in order to pay for food, gas, childcare/preschool and other daily necessities. We didn’t do anything extravagant such as take a vacation or buy any big ticket items.
My husband did trade his gas-guzzling Jeep for a car, and it does carry a higher payment, but it’s nothing compared to what he was paying in fuel. All the extra income did was allow us to pay cash for some home upkeep items and let us eat dinner out a bit more often without worrying so much about the bank balance.
I don’t know how people do it who make what we do and live in more expensive parts of town. Perhaps they’re not making it? I guess I should be happy we aren’t in over our heads on our mortgage.
But here’s the rub. We need a bigger house, and we need to get to a better school district. I’ve done the best I can for my daughter where we are, camping out overnight in the freezing rain to get her into a magnet school. But I still wonder whether this is the best option. I would feel better knowing I don’t have to worry about schools at all—that I can just send her to the one down the street and trust that her education will be excellent. In order to do that, we need to move.
Without even mentioning the dismal housing market, I know we’ll have to take on a bigger house payment. If we took what we’re paying now in preschool tuition and childcare and folded that into a monthly mortgage payment, then it would be manageable once she reached grade school. But if we have another child and have to pay for daycare on top of that? Um…
I have to say that I’m feeling discouraged and a bit trapped. Current economic conditions make it difficult to envision increasing our income by much when you factor in the rising cost of living. Daycare costs already are through the roof. And I’m angry that we’ve played by the rules and are not finding much reward. Thanks, in large part, to irresponsible lenders and borrowers, my wealth and mobility are compromised.
Whatever happens, I’m sure we’ll make it. We’ve weathered hard times before and will do it again. It’s just scarier now because our child is affected, and because I just don’t know if we’ll be able to give her a little brother or sister along with all of the other advantages we want for her. I know some people don’t let factors like this affect their decision to have more children, but I wouldn’t feel responsible if I didn’t consider it.
Looks like we’ve got some tough choices ahead.