Money Talks

So I can’t help but notice that this being a stay at home mom gig doesn’t pay as much as one would hope. For serious, where is my $137,ooo a year? Noticeably absent, is what I am saying.

I mean, obviously, I am very fortunate that I am able to stay at home, and in some ways we are lucky. Mr. E makes more now than the both of us used to make combined, so we never had to figure out a way to live without my salary when I decided to stay home with Senor Pants. But I would be lying I said we haven’t made some sacrifices, and if I didn’t admit that at times, times are tight. And there’s a reason we have a craptastic lawn mower we bought on Craigslist for $50 and a reason we only have one car. We don’t eat out more than a few times a month, at most, and we don’t ever have money we can just spend on whatever we want without thinking about it. We have a budget and a Google Doc Spreadsheet and encumbrances and we have to keep very careful track of our money.

We do spend A LOT of money on groceries and I will freely admit I don’t try to save money in the grocery store. Part of this is because if I am going to eat almost every meal at home, I am going to eat good stuff, I’m not eating beans and rice four times a week. Part of this is because I love to cook and good food is important to me and so I buy fancy olives and King Arthur flour. Part of this is because Mr. E has the appetite of four teenaged boys put together, and part of this is because if I do try to save money at the store, it doesn’t work. I end up getting stressed out and feeling guilty over every thing I put in the cart and then we’ve spent just as much as ever, and bam! I’m right back to the ten year old version of me – my stomach tightening in knots as my dad pissed and moaned over that weeks grocery bill as we walked out of the store on Saturday afternoon. I just can’t deal with that emotional pitfall twice a month so I pretty much just let the chips fall into the cart as they may, so to speak.

Sometimes I use a meal planning system and sometimes I’m sick of planning and I just wing it, but I generally go to the grocery store twice a month for two big stock ups and then make little trips to our close by and really expensive Safeway and when all is said and done we end up spending between $600 and $700 a month on food. Which is a lot, but as I said, it is what it is, it’s not going to change, and we hardly ever throw anything out other than the jicama I rot every month, so I am not too worried about it.

It’s time to go to the grocery store again but I was poking around making a list and I couldn’t help but notice that we still have a lot of food. Like, no room for any more food amounts of food. So we decided to just not go to the store and to not do the big stock up trip, and we’ll just make a quick run for some liquid gold strawberry milk and a few veggies and some eggs. Of the Reeses variety.*

Um, so, this seemed a lot more interesting when I was writing it in my head, before? But seriously, yeah, the most exciting thing I’ve got going on right now is that I’m not going grocery shopping. On the plus side, I’m buying bras with the $300 I’m saving. Also, can you believe the glamour that is my life? I know, I know, I can’t get over how fabulous it all is either.Speaking of money of and not having much, we have the WORST HEALTH INSURANCE EVER. I am sure you are all, omg, she did it, she found the one subject more boring than her boring ass rantings about grocery shopping, but dude. It is SO SO bad, this insurance of ours.

We knew before we had S. Pants that we’d have to pay 20% of what it cost to have him. We also knew that we’d have to pay my doctor around $700 dollars because she sent us a gulp inducing letter declaring so. (There’s nothing more funner to get when you’re trying to figure out how to pay for a crib and a high chair and a $300 car seat than a letter saying “Surprise! You will be owing us the $700 please” but whatever, we dealt with it). So we knew all that ahead of time and of course I never expected having a baby to be FREE, and so even though it sucked we saved what we could and we got a tax return and we tried to decorate the nursery on the cheap and all that hoo ha. And then we had E and we had to pay for almost all of my first ultrasound and we had to pay for his baby snip snip all on our own, but thank goodness all the well baby visits were covered, we never even paid a co pay when we took him to the pediatrician.

Then when S. Pants was about nine months old the bills started showing up. Not just the doctor bill and the hospital bill, but bills from the pediatrician and a bill for all of my second ultrasound and bills from the eye doctor. That’s when we found out that the insurance that we pay over $5000 dollars a year for only covers $1000 worth of doctor visits. For all three of us. Including a baby who had to go to the doctor every week when we has first born. Sucktactistic.

So we’ve been paying all these medical bills as best we can bits at a time. I have had several low moments during the whole thing – realizing the extent of our debt, coming to terms with having really bad health insurance for the first time in my life, putting the balance of the pediatrician’s charges on our credit card when the receptionist whispered awkwardly to us that Eli couldn’t have his immunizations while we owed them money. But some of the bills slowly got paid off and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d be on a payment plan with the hospital forever and that we couldn’t afford to have another baby while we had this shitty shitty health insurance, and then the hospital sent us a notice on Saturday that said “Surprise@! You were on a payment plan but now you owe us EVERYTHING including all the money in the world RIGHT NOW for no apparent reason. Also have a good day, bye.”

Fudge, is what I was thinking about that. Fudge fudge fudge.

However. Shortly after we got the “we are bastards” notice from the hospital, a certain someone who shall remain nameless per request, handed me a check, unasked, for the remaining balance of what we owe the hospital. And I can’t tell you what this has meant to me. Of all the things I have been given in my life, this was just such a very nice and kind and uncomplicatedly decent thing to do. It was not any millions of dollars or a fancy show of anything, but it just simply means that I can breathe again, now, and for that I am just so insanely grateful. I’m not even sure what to say or how to say thank you, but there it is. Sometimes the people who love you do extraordinary things for you and when it happens, this reminder that people can be so surprising and wonderful?. Well. It helps me to believe that we may just make it after all.

*Apparently some people just can’t be trusted around novelty easter candy. Since there are no punishments equal to the crime of stealing a dieting woman’s partially eaten Reese’s Egg, I have chosen instead to administer a lifetime of emotional torture. Hope that egg was good, Mr. E.

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5 Responses

  1. Check the health department for immunizations. They charged about $5 when my kids were babies. I never thought I would stoop so low as to use the health department unti my first child had his first shots at the Dr office and it cost $50 for the shot. Why pay the over paid Dr for something your can get next to free (and your tax $$ pay for anyway). The nurses at the office actually suggested it so don’t be intimidated by your Dr or staff if they try to discourage you from getting a freebie.

  2. I hear ya sistah – we still owe the hospital just under $2000 for our daughter who will be THREE YEARS OLD in May. Let’s hear it for shitty insurance!! Hooray!! Add to that some outrageous student loans and a crazy credit card bill and we are swimming in a lake of financial doom!! We are chipping away it a little at a time, but man, some days it really sucks to be a grown up!

  3. I’m so glad someone was kind enough to help you out of the financial rut. B is in school and we’re trying to make ends meet, just the two of us, while working 4 jobs and borrowing as little as possible so we won’t be quite so in debt when he graduates. It’s a trying thing. Breathe easy now…or easier at least! Enjoy your easter candy:)

  4. I’m like you- on a tight budget, but refusing to scrimp on groceries. Organic food is very important to me… although unlike you, I kinda do live on rice and beans! (In various forms, of course). And I know the pain of your shitty insurance. I don’t know who your guardian angel is, but s/he rocks! My mom once paid off our credit card bill, and that feeling of a weight being lifted off your chest in indescribable.

  5. We have happy health insurance that doesn’t have a cut-off for doctor appointments–but it’s a $20 copay per visit, and our share is $15,000 a year. Which, I’m thinking we could probably pay cash for all our doctor appointments with.

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