Did you struggle when your kids were young?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by littlered, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. littlered

    littlered Mouseketeer

    Mar 6, 2005
    I feel like we are struggling right now. My DH has been unemployed for about 27 months and he is looking but we live in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates. We can not sell b/c were upside down like everyone.

    I am fortunate I have a job with benefits that cover us but it is like every month we barley make it. The thread about could you find 2,000$ on another board was totally me. DH's unemployment has drained everything and while I work we have taken pay cuts the last 2 years.

    We have 2 kids so a job has to pay somewhat decent to make it worth it. I try to tell myself that doing things with my kids(both under 5) is important and we do a lot of cheap things like bake a cake, go to the park and splash park and library all free.

    I don't know what I am asking, maybe just commiseration that it doesn't last forever. I am paying debt down(student loan and medical for the most part) as I can and am looking into Dave Ramsey..it just seems like how can you pay down debt when you barley can pay day to day expenses.

    And before I get flamed, I have not been to WDW since 2005, my honeymoon, so no trips planned. Vacations are driving to the inlaws in another state..
  2. Juliet25

    Juliet25 DIS Veteran

    Nov 5, 2001
    No flames from me. :)

    I have three kids under 8. We've tried doing DR and I just had to throw in the towel. There's just too many expenses with kids (most recently, a $600 dental bill :scared1:). Food alone is killing us. I can't get over how much my kids eat, and one of them still nurses. I can't imagine our food bill when they're teenagers. (and yes, I coupon, shop at Aldi, meal plan, etc.)

    Kids are expensive, no doubt about it.
  3. Avatar


    to hide this advert.
  4. descovy

    descovy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2008
    Yes, but for us it was back in 2004 when EVERYONE was living large & money was free-flowing :rotfl2:

    We had just had our 3rd child... so a newborn, 2yo, 4yo. My dh panicked at the thought of a 3rd child (surprise!) and quit his steady, lower-paid gov't job to make more money at an engineering firm.

    It didn't work out. They were going to fire him, and he quit. BIG mistake as it meant no unemployment. And I was a SAHM to 3 under the age of 5 :scared1:

    I immediately got a job at my church's preschool. The 3 kids came with and the director let them attend for free. I was an assistant in the 2's classroom early in the day, and worked in the afterschool program until 6pm in the afternoons. I nursed the baby during my breaks.

    I made $8 but it was full-time and childcare was covered. (For 3 small kids not in school, that was HUGE!)

    The funny thing was we lived in a small 2br house (all 3 girls shared a bedroom!) and while we had hoped to sell and get a bigger place before the baby was born, we were lucky we hadn't. Again, this was in 2004 when you could be approved for a loan just by breathing.

    But what a relief we only had a $500/mo mortgage that year.

    We were resilent and willing to do whatever it took. We cut EVERYTHING. No cell, no cable, no eating out, cheap food for dinner. No whinibg that we "deserve" a night out, etc... Just focused on surviving. And we did.

    It did get better. Dh has a good job now, I work p/t just because the kids are all school aged and I need to do something with my time (what a switch!) We have since moved, and are breathing easier, but the lessons we learned back then still remain with us!

    You'll get through...:grouphug:
  5. laurafergie

    laurafergie DIS Veteran

    Mar 1, 2008
    Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. :hug::hug::hug And still do it sometimes as my DH is in construction and we have been self employed forever. It's very stressful not being able to budget.

    We worked ourselves to death for 20 years, talking 60-80 hr work weeks, 7 days a week. We missed so much of the older kids growing up and we'll never get it back.

    Without boring everyone to tears with all the details, we lost most of everything in 2006 - then the absolute rest the next year. I was literally selling the contents of the house for food.

    But, it was a real - reality check, we completely realigned our priorities, and while we are still self-employed and do not make near the money we did before - we make time for vacations, and things to do as a family, and one on one time with the kids, and time for each other.

    OP - you are doing the right things - spending time with your children, and it will get better - financially - but, more importantly, it will get even better as your mental outlook improves.

    I know life is stressful, but it always will be, even if you had all the money in the world. So focus on the most important things in your life. Your marriage and your children and take your joy from them. Good luck to you. :hug:
  6. divabydisney

    divabydisney Mouseketeer

    Apr 5, 2011
    Yes, I can relate. I have 2 boys and was unemployed for a year. I am the only parent so I DRAINED my savings to stay afloat. I tried listing my house but had not one person come look at it. Even now, NOTHING is moving in my neighborhood. The day before I missed a payment, I got a job. I went on 17 interviews, countless phone interviews, was told I was overqualified a hand full of times, you name it, I was flat out MISERABLE. Shamefully, I did take a lot out on my kids/family. I was extremely depressed and felt inadequate. We often did the free things but my kids missed some of the "fun" stuff we did. I explained it to my older one and while he understood, understandably he could't fully grasp all of it. I often cried througout the day and when I was just about to fully give up everything I owned, I got a job out of the blue. They called said I had interviewed with them in the past and that they didn't need another interview, just wanted to offer me the job. I've been there almost 2 yrs. Please have faith and know you aren't alone. It's tough, but doable. Keep talking and know that it can and will get better!:hug:
  7. mom2pandc

    mom2pandc Earning My Ears

    Oct 30, 2008
    I know it is rough now, but it will get better. You don't have a money crisis as much as you have an income crisis that is causing a money crisis. If you were both working, your whole world would be a lot different.
    Being unemployed is awful in more ways than just financial. It affects your whole family's psyche, and mental wellbeing. It's difficult to move past that, but perhaps you can try to figure out what your DH is good at, what skills, or knowledge he has that he can market and make some money as his own business. Starting a business is scary, we did it 4 years ago, but we are thriving now and each year gets less scary.
    I've heard recently that it's kind of the trend right now, when there aren't any jobs out there, people are making themselves a job.
    I know Dave Ramsey suggests the book 48 days to the work you love. It sounds like perhaps it could be a step in the right direction? At least in finding some hope in such a rough time.
    In the long run, you will be better for it. You will remember what it's like to struggle and that's a life lesson that is hard to swallow, but it's also hard to learn without actually living through it.
    The free and inexpensive things you do, those are the things that I do too, and I'm not having much financial strain now. Your kids aren't going to remember all the toys you buy, they are going to remember the things you DO. Those are the memories that mean the most to me growing up and for much of my very young years, my parent's struggled to make ends meet and my dad was laid off multiple times.
    Keep your chin up, and good luck!
  8. collegejunkie

    collegejunkie DIS Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    if your DH has been out of work that long, it may be time to look into another field. i would actually say go back to school, nursing or dental hygiene, as those pay fairly well right out of school. good luck!
  9. Beckypooh1972

    Beckypooh1972 Mouseketeer

    Apr 3, 2009
    I know it's hard not to take the Disney trips you used to. We haven't been able to go since our kids turned 3 and we had to start paying for their park admission. :headache: Now it just takes longer to save for a trip.

    The most encouraging words I can give you is love doesn't cost a thing... keep baking those cakes, going on picnics, using the free sources of entertainment like the library and playing in the parks; we do this too. Even though it may feel like a sacrifice to you, chances are your kids don't feel slighted. In the long run, you will be:

    1.)living within your means
    2.)teaching your children important values. I have friends that spend huge amounts of money on gifts and STUFF for their kids and it's never enough - their kids have come to expect bigger and better. Guess what? Their relationship with their kids is no better than my relationship with my kids.

    You are doing the right thing by your kids. :hug:
  10. marko

    marko Mouseketeer

    Apr 1, 2000
    It seems that each year as my children get older expenses increase, but at the same time I feel like I look back each year and ask myself "How did we manage it"?, but we somehow do. I suppose it's in the same way that I tell my children as they are studying for finals while playing in those last final games and working (taken from nike) "Just Do It". You do the extra time, work.... that needs to get done to accomplish things (or make ends meet), It might not be easy, but you make things work and get by. Good luck and good vibes.
  11. shaylyn

    shaylyn Mouseketeer

    Feb 4, 2011
    Yes, absolutely, we struggled in the early years.

    Dh was unemployeed for the first time ever last fall. It took him only a few months to find another job. He took one with a 25% pay cut and a HUGE reduction in health care benefits, but he is working!

    It's easy to fall into the "unemployment is high....nobody is finding a job" trap. Depression sets in, people stop looking for a job, or they look minimally (sending out a resume here or there) and that results in nothing.

    Here's my suggestion. Your Dh should be spending at least 6 hours a day networking (sites like Linkedin) and working on resumes. Have him rewrite each and every resume to match the job requirements. Now is NOT the time to go back to school--he needs to focus on working, even if it is for McDonalds! He may need to start at the bottom, but that is what has to be done!

    Sell everything and anything that is worth value that you don't really need. In our very early years I sold a stroller just to get enough money for food for the week. We had nothing at all and two hungry little ones to feed.

    Keep your chin up, it will get better! :hug:
  12. arthur06

    arthur06 DDC #689

    Oct 26, 2008
    I know it can be extremely tough right now. We have 3 boys, and can they eat! We don't have tons of money by any means, but we get by. I totally understand what you mean about children being young and struggling.

    What does your DH like to do? Is he into sports at all? I have found an awesome PT job around our area... I got an Umpiring Certificate for local amateur sports. It pays about $30 to $50 per game and most games are under 2 hours. There are many tournaments here on the weekends that you can do about 5 games on Sat and 3 games on Sunday and easily make over $200 (in cash). Our state doesn't tax the income unless you make over $600 at one school or tournament. If he is into sports at all, it is worth looking into. There is a huge shortage of officials here, so if time would allow you could easily do 20 games a week during baseball/softball season...
  13. MomToOne

    MomToOne DIS Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    My parents raised 5 kids on one income. We had a solid middle class life, but they struggled at times. That meant we ate out in restaurants only once or twice a year, we wore hand-me-downs, our birthday parties were a homemade cake after dinner with the immediate family, and we only got new toys at Christmas. We would take 1 day trip to the zoo each year, and usually 1 trip to a museum. Otherwise, we were expected to "entertain ourselves" on weekends and during the summer.

    And, looking back, I wouldn't have changed ANY of it. It wasn't perfect - having three brothers is a nightmare in and of itself :rotfl: - but it was good.

    Today, I am raising my daughter on my own. Only money coming in is my salary. And I have to pinch pennies like crazy to pull off the things I've decided are important. Sometimes I just want to say to heck with it, and pull out the credit cards and start spending - usually on things for my daughter, to "make her life better". But then I stop and think about my childhood. And how it was good. Without any of the bells and whistles everyone seems to think are required these days. I remind myself stuff like fancy clothes and fabulous trips aren't what makes a child - or a parent - happy in the long run. It's having a family that is tuned in, that you know will always be there, even if you screw up.

    So - stick to making cakes, running through the sprinkler in the back yard, and having picnics in the park. Kids don't need expensive activities, they just need your time - no matter how much they complain otherwise :laughing: I have faith that slowly things will get better if I keep at it and for now I just do the best I can. I celebrate what I have accomplished financially - however small - and try not to focus on comparing my "stuff" to other people's. And I try to remember that I have SO much more than many people in this world.
  14. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2000
    I was fortunate in that I didn't feel like we "struggled." However, many of the things you described - free entertainment and only traveling to see relatives - were simply a way of life for us when the we were in that phase of our lives. We owned a home, but it was a "fixer." This was the norm amoung young families we knew.

    You have obviously made some really good choices to be able to survive a long period of unemployment. (It would have been pretty rough for us if dh wasn't working and I was.) You should be proud of yourselves! It sounds like your DH is functioning as a SAHD right now? Maybe he can look for some part-time SAHM kind of income opportunities?

    As for the simple things, like another poster my favorite memories are really simple things - talking mom into mowing in certain patterns so we could pretend the lawn was a swimming pool, playing "fishing" off the tailgate of our station wagon in our driveway, etc. We specifically TRIED to replicate that kind of childhood for our kids.
  15. Bungle

    Bungle DIS Veteran

    Jan 12, 2011
    Oh man we have hit some rough patches in the past financially. I mean brutal. I did learn some important lessons about needs vs. wants at that time, but I never want to be in that spot again. No advice really just a lot of :hug: and know that it will pass. How old are your kids? Do they still need daycare if both parents are working?
  16. AnnieEMT

    AnnieEMT Mouseketeer

    Mar 20, 2011
    I can completely relate & believe me, this too shall pass - most of the years that my kids were small we were on one income. There was no such thing as a vacation - we did maybe a weekend away once a year. At the time it felt like a never-ending struggle & it was hard not to be disheartened, knowing all the "extra" stuff I would have liked to have given my kids. The only piece of advice I have is not to focus in a negative way on finances - don't let it eat you up. Not saying be irresponsible, but don't give it more power than it needs to have in your life. Do what you can, enjoy your children & family - and eventually, things really will turn around :wizard:
  17. indimom

    indimom Are We There Yet?

    Jul 18, 2008
    It will get better. Just keep chugging along. We have had some rough patches along the way also. Back in 2001, we were living in a tiny two bedroom, one bath house for our family of four, had one car, worked 50-80 hours a week, no cellphones, no internet, no cable. The kids wore 100% hand-me-downs (Thank God for cousins). Times were tough and we were both working!
    But, it does get better. And the lessons you are learning right now will stay with you through the decades to come. We've never forgotten and have worked (and continue to work) to insulate our family against financial set backs. It came in very handy when the economy tanked and our jobs took a hit. Two years of decreased income followed by car breakdowns, car replacement, and medical bills, but we're still hanging in thanks to the lessons we learned 10 years ago.
    We're never going to be rich, but our family is happy and healthy and we value that. Don't let $$ get you down, listen to your children's laughter and know that you already have everything you need. :hug:
  18. beansmom

    beansmom Grumpy Grandma Extraordinaire

    Feb 3, 2000
    oh, honey, yes! I didn't work so I could stay home and raise our boys myself. We drove an old beater and there were times when we were so broke I had to wash diapers by hand. (We had no w/d.) Some nights all we had to eat were beans and mustard..(which, oddly, wasn't bad). Kids always seem to need SUMTHIN--shoes, new clothes, posterboard for projects...it's just always something. And, of course, expenses are more...food, clothes..toilet paper...when you have more in a household.

    Now I live in a huge house, we travel and I have just about everything I want. Of course, i 'married up' this last time. :P

    I think struggling financially when you're young is mostly a part of life and life....at every stage...has its own challenges.

    Good luck to you...things will get better. Kids do grow up and go away and you will get to eat 2 oreos from the package by yourself someday. :woohoo: :lmao:
  19. ancestry

    ancestry Trees Without Roots Fall Over

    Jan 27, 2009
    I have struggled at different points in my life. Once was when my older two were little. I recovered stabilized then I went through a divorce and struggled all over again. Then I got remarried, stabilized, and then DH and I both lost our jobs and it was back to struggling. We have now recovered but any major life change could change that all over again.

    It comes and goes in my experience. You learn to be resurceful and go with the flow.
  20. Rekenna

    Rekenna DIS Veteran

    Feb 9, 2010
    To the OP-thanks for posting this-I have been going down this same "will it ever end" spiral myself. Fortunately, both DH and I have good jobs-some of our $ problems stem from when I didn't work for a year when pregnant with #2 (long story). Also, I stupidly got an MBA that I have never used and have quite a high student loan payment to make, we have 2 little ones in day care and DS3 has autism which adds to the pot b/c of $, time, stress and extra worry.

    I have older friends who have been through the same thing and as others have said on this thread-it will get better.

    We do go on vacation, but as cheaply as possible, it's our one thing and we plan and save for it all year. And, honestly, I don't think I could make it through the year without something to look forward to-when I am really down, and I mean way down, it's about the only thing that can dig me out-fantasizing about our family on vacation and being happy and relaxed. :earsboy:

    I just wanted you to know, I hear you, I empathize-it will get better. Although, I tell myself this evey morning-I did just have a panic attack on Saturday at 3am-dreaming about money and woke up in the middle of the night and totally freaked out.

    All we can do is just keep plugging on, we will get there. I'm trying really hard to not miss out my kids and DH and how awesome they are b/c I either am worrying or stressing about $.

    Chin up!

    I also wanted to add-I remember when DH and I would take a can of corn and a can of peas and mix them together and call that dinner-gross! Also, where we are from we have Cincinnati style chili and coneys, I would buy a pack of hotdogs, a pack of buns, 1 can of off brand chili and shredded cheese and we ate coneys every night-not the healthiest thing in the world, but it kept our tummies full and I only spent a total of $20 a week of groceries, wow.

    Have you ever watched the show "The Middle"? There was an episode where Frankie accidently bought a $200 jar of eye cream. Her DH was so angry and his reason for being angry? After all their time together $200 was the difference between them making/not making their bills for the month. Frankie then pointed out that when they first got married $10 was the make or break point. I liked this episode, b/c while it may feel like we aren't getting anywhere-we really are. Deep breaths.

    Wishing your family all the best and hoping your DH finds something that pays well and that he enjoys.
  21. Schmoodle

    Schmoodle DIS Veteran

    Sep 30, 2008
    I can completely relate. I remember rolling coins at the end of the month for groceries when DH and I were both in school. We'd gather up our cans and bottles to return for the deposit and our change and scrape up $10 for food to get us through that last week. Then DD came along and vacations were going to my parents time share at the beach or camping. The first time DD went to Disney World, she was 4 and we drove, again stayed at a time share, and boy did I scrimp and save to pay for those tickets.

    What made the difference for us is that all those years we were on a tight budget, we were both getting an education and then getting established in our careers. We intentionally picked careers that would pay a good wage and not be so dependent on economy (after we got past our "what do I want to do with my life" phase). I do not love my job every day, but I love the life it allows us. We are comfortable now and I can take my (now 3) kids to WDW and stay anywhere I want to (although I still look for the deals!). So yes, this too can pass, but you may have to make some calculated moves to get yourselves in a more secure position.

    And I think there's some value in struggling at the beginning. I tell my DD that, who is now struggling to get herself established. It definitely makes you appreciate what you have and work for.

    ETA - I hope things start looking up for you soon. I know it is difficult and stressful. But your kids will still have wonderful memories of doing things together. We never took expensive vacations when I was a kid but I have great memories of camping trips and family times.

Share This Page