April 15, 2010

After a year…

Filed under: budgets,children,debt,money — by elysianconfusion @ 12:14 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

We started this journey in April 2009, so it’s now been a year.

April 20, 2009: 403,438.14
April 15, 2010:  $367,664.68

So, we’ve paid down $35,773.46 in a year, which is not bad, I guess. It’s down only $1,814.63 from last month, and honestly, I’m feeling pretty discouraged.

We’ve had a lot going on lately and haven’t been able to sell anything on Craigslist. I haven’t even gotten my donations together.

The real problem here is that after a year of budgeting and planning and working it all out, I’m faced with the unexpected. Summer camp requires you to pay 100% of the cost before the child even starts camp, and I wasn’t aware of or prepared for that. Maybe I should have been, I don’t know. So despite saving aggressively for preschool (so I could pay the entire amount in August, thereby eliminating the interest (10%!!!!!) they charge to make monthly payments, I still am screwed. This month I have to pay $1,800 for extended day at preschool (necessary in order to work) for next year. I also have to pay $300 for two weeks of camp so that my younger child will be in “school” until the same date as my older son. I have one week with no plan for either of them, then the following week they both go for 1/2 day for the week.

After that they start camp at the YMCA (116 acres and a pond and lots of activities, I think they’ll enjoy it). We already had to pay a $772 deposit for this last month, and this month $1,496 is due, and next month $1,072 is due. This month I also have to pay my town taxes, about $1,630. This is just overwhelming for me.

I have been saving and saving and SAVING! I am insanely frustrated.

As I see it, I have 3 options.

1) Charge camp. I *think* I will be able to pay that back within the grace period (current balance = 0 so no interest).

2) Take the $1,000 out of my emergency fund, leaving me with nothing in there, so I’d have to charge emergencies anyway.

3) Borrow money from my mom.

I really don’t want to borrow money from my mom, even if I can pay it back within a month or so. I just don’t want to.

The other two options seem more psychological than anything else. Both feel defeating.

The other issue is that making sure I have money for camp and for preschool means I pretty much have nothing extra. No snowflake or snowball at all. I hate that. I wasn’t able to snowball this month, and I don’t think I can start again until August. Unless, you know, we have some kind of windfall. On the other hand, by August I can successfully drop savings for camp and preschool and full-day kindergarten to $440 per month, down from a high of  $1,850 this June. That will significantly improve the snowball at least. Or at last.

So here I am, praying for windfalls and snowflakes!


February 24, 2010

Summer Camp Costs

Filed under: budgets,children,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 5:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ahh childcare. I want my kids to have a good summer. I want them to do and learn fun things, and I think they’ll be happy at camp. Last year we had a babysitter for the summer, and that was great but…

I don’t like having people in my house every day. I didn’t like having to tell her what to do to keep the kids out of my hair (one of the burdens of working at home I suppose). I didn’t like not knowing what they did when they weren’t here (how much tv did they watch? I have no idea).  And they got almost no playtime with other kids. So this year we’re thinking camp. Unfortunately for me, this really kills our budget.

1) Camp costs at least 200$ per week per child.

2) Many camps don’t have full programs for 4 year olds.

3) Camps seem to require payment before the program begins, which means I need at least 3k by June 1 for summer costs.

4) I have to figure it out now to make sure we have a spot.

5) The sessions seem to be typically for two weeks, and you pay for both even if you don’t go to both. So either I keep them home for a week and go on vacation for a week, or I pay for two weeks and only use one (I don’t want to do that).

6) It’s really hard to find comprehensive summer camp information for the area, and it’s impossible to search on things I want to know (price, minimum age, hours). I don’t even want to look at the camp unless they take both kids. Otherwise I’ll spend all my time driving them to and from and won’t get any work done.

So although of course I knew I’d have summer childcare costs, I somehow didn’t realize that I had to pay for them before sending the kids for a single day. I’ve been redoing my budget to try figure out how to get everything paid in cash and on time. The worst thing about that, really, is that I can’t think of any way to do it without (temporarily) cutting back on my snowball. I’m really disappointed about that.

I think I can get it all worked out and make sure I have enough to prepay preschool (saving 400$ in interest I’d pay taking the monthly payment plan) in August. So it’s basically six months of lowered snowball payments (I think they’ll be 379$ extra going to debt a month, but I’d sorta been planning on 719, which would have paid off a credit card in the next twelve months. (Can you hear the big sigh??) And I’d just calculated a new emergency fund goal of $6,000 and started my own little snowflake spreadsheet to keep track of everything and hopefully ramp this stuff up a bit!

Well, I guess I’ll see what I can do with what I’ve got… maybe I can find more corners to cut in our budget and push a little hard on the EF and snowball. (Although my husband was just complaining about how tight the budget was last night — and I think we waste lots of money! I guess we need to sit down and look at everything we spend — I do this all the time and he pretty much never does. Two posts at Get Rich Slowly made me think we need to work on this: What Marriage Has Taught Me About Money and Money Without Matrimony (even though we’re married and heterosexual, sounds like a good book!))

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