Our youngest son is in his junior year of college. We knew that this would be the toughest time financially for us. We had enough money in his college fund to get him through his Freshman and Sophomore years. When we got beyond that, we knew it would be a little dicey, especially with my not working full time.
So, how are we handling this? We have always said that we would help and do our best to fund our kids’ education but we also knew that they would have to help also by working and paying what they could.
The next 18 months will be like the first 18 months I was home and “retired.” From July 2009 through December 2010 we knew it would be difficult but I also knew that being home would be worth it. I still believe this. We will be able to handle the tuition for the fall and the following year along with other expenses we have coming up only if I am extremely careful with spending on household expenses. By household expenses I am talking about food, clothing, laundry, being careful with our water usage and usage of all utilities - keep the air conditioner set high and the heat set low, keeping track of all we have on hand in the pantry and freezer and use up what we have on hand for meals and so on.
Our budget has taken a hit with gasoline prices and food prices. I remarked to a friend yesterday that I am so confused about what is a good deal as the prices have kept going up and are constantly changing. When I saw in the newspaper last week that one store had 85% lean ground beef on sale for $1.99 lb., I bought 25 lbs. for the freezer.
Last week we were talking about finances and my husband told me what I had already known. Things were getting tighter sooner than we had projected. We had a lot of extra expenses over the past few months and we have some upcoming expenses besides having college tuition to pay for in the fall.
We are putting up a privacy fence, our house needs painted and our front porch floor needs replaced. The fence materials are paid for and with the help of family we are installing the privacy fence ourselves. This fence is a necessity as we both feel the need to be in our backyard without people constantly walking by and looking over the fence and see us on our back porch or deck. (We have a corner lot, so the sidewalk is right next to our yard.) Some people walk by and tease our dog and that has to stop.
We have to paint our house this summer as it is badly needed. I was going to change the colors, but have decided to keep the same color scheme since we have a lot of the paint colors already on hand. The front porch floor is starting to rot and so are the spindles and railing. My husband will be putting in a new floor, railing and spindles. The materials are expensive but since we are doing the projects ourselves and not hiring a contractor, we will be saving money.
So, I have two choices: tighten the belt and dig in or go and get a job. I like the first choice better especially now that we have a grandson in our lives.
Step One to getting back on track: take it one day at a time. Look at what tasks I have to do and see where I can cut expenses. Tomorrow when I do laundry I am going back to making sure I am measuring the exact amount needed per load to stretch the detergent into as many loads as possible. I have plenty of detergent, probably enough for at least 1 year, but my goal is to stretch it into 18 months.