We are about 10 months into dealing with Covid and things don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was looking back over pictures from the year today and I was struck by how sudden everything was last Feb/March when everything shut down. […]
Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I […]
I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised our income and increased our savings rate. Over the last 10+ years many of the small habits we started are so ingrained in us that we don’t even think about it any more. We have added a couple of kids since then and now we have one in college and our expenses have dramatically increased so small changes are much more important for our overall financial health. I find that when we don’t keep track of the smaller things the larger ones get lost as well. One of our biggest costs every month is child care and keeping those costs low is a priority for us right now as we head into another school year where we could potentially be paying way more than we budgeted for if we are not careful.
As ridiculous as it seems, “sleeping in” until 5:30 am every day costs us around $300 a month. How you might ask? When I sleep in I start work an hour later and we end up paying for an extra hour of child care after school. At $15 an hour for two kids times 5 days a week is $75 a week extra in child care. Multiply that times 4 and you are at $300 a month which of course would be higher in a 5 week month. It is kind of ridiculous to think of that extra hour of snooze time as costing us so much money a month and $3900 a year if we do it all 52 weeks!
Small changes over time add up to huge improvements later on in life.
We are super lucky to have flexible schedules and childcare that charges us by the hour for after care instead of a blanket amount each month but it also leads to childcare costs not being steady and harder to budget. Starting this summer is our first time having to pay for after care for both kids. Prior to that our son was in a more traditional day care setting and had a flat monthly rate which was great for budgeting but it never went down when we missed days. Now that he is a preschooler his official school end time is at lunchtime and we pay for afternoon care by the hour. Our daughter gets out at 3:00 and we pay for care after that time.
One of the good things about this arrangement is that we are able to put our child care costs on a credit card and earn cash back for something we would be paying anyway. This only works though if you are paying off your credit card every month and not paying any interest. We find out about three weeks in advance how much our bill will be and prior to that I put a placeholder in my Quicken account for an estimated amount that is over what I think it will be and that helps us prepare for making a large payment on the next payday. I budget for childcare based on when they bill us. We get billed on a monthly basis from September through the first half of June and then we get a separate bill for care from the second half of June through the end of August. Last year all of the charges for the second half of June, and all of July and August went through in September so it was quite a large amount but I knew it was coming so I was able to set aside money and schedule my payments out in advance. This uneven way for charging us for child care is part of the reason why we have had a hard time budgeting over the past few years. Our expenses vary so much based on which month we are in that it is difficult to plan. Putting our expenses into Quicken months in advance and then looking at our lowest point over the next six months has really helped keep things in perspective.
We budget six to nine month in advance to get a bigger picture of where our finances are heading.
To reduce our child care costs Mr. Oscoey and I do a mini split-shift with work . I go in super early and pick the kids up as soon as I can and he drops them off when school opens so we are not paying for before care as well. We do this to save money and because our son can’t really be dropped off early enough to make a difference in paying for before care for our daughter. It does cause some issues, mainly because sometimes Mr. Oscoey has to go in earlier but so far we have been able to work it out where I work from home before dropping the kids off closer to 9:00 but honestly this is pretty exhausting for me. I usually end up having to work another hour at night and spreading my 8 hours out over the course of the day like that makes the work day seem soooo much longer. My commute is pretty bad and when I split my working hours up I end up spending the entire day working, driving, working, driving, eating dinner, and then working some more and that is not super fun. I need down time every day and when I work those crazy split shifts I don’t get enough.
Last year when we were only paying for after care for one kid some months Mr. Oscoey was able to get off early and pick the kids up by 3:00 nearly every day our bill was only $150 for an entire month which is super cheap. Based on our normal pick up time for this year with two kids in after care we will end up paying $262.50 a week if I sleep in until 5:30. This ends up being over $1000 a month which is a huge chunk of our budget. If I can leave in time to save an hour of after care every day that will lower our bill by $75 a week and $3900 a year! Unfortunately when Mr. Oscoey got off work early enough to pick up the kids and avoid after care he would have to work late at night and we would not get grown up time. For everything there is a trade off and finding balance while being a working parent is difficult.
Leaving an hour earlier will save us $3900 a year in child care costs!
If we wanted to save $3900 dollars a year and pick the kids up right after school I would have to get up at 4:30 every morning and unfortunately that is not an easy task for me. I need my sleep, like really need my eight solid hours a night and I would have to go to bed immediately after the kids if I wanted to get up at 4:30 in the morning every day. Leaving earlier would also be a guarantee that I would not see the kids in the morning, even for a little bit, nor would I get alone time with Mr. Oscoey at night. Being a working parent is all about balance and I love seeing my kids in the morning before I leave. We snuggle on the couch for a few minutes and we talk about our day for a bit. Sometimes if they get up early enough I am able to eat breakfast with them and maybe read a book. The days that I don’t see my son before I leave it is hit or miss whether or not he will cry for a long time because he didn’t see me before school and that is hard to hear about when it happens.
Alone time with your spouse is also key to a healthy marriage and difficult for any couple with small children. Mornings are spent packing lunches and getting ready for school/work and the evening is the only time Mr. Oscoey and I are able to catch up about work or talk about what our family plans are. I also spend some some of that time working on the blog and balancing our checkbook. Right now we are trying to watch “Game of Thrones” which is pretty inappropriate for kids so we are only able to watch when we are alone. Running the numbers on how much we would save if I leave earlier in the morning was pretty eye opening though and I think I will try to find a compromise where I can leave earlier some of the time and maybe have Mr. Oscoey pick up early when he can. I don’t want to lose too much of my morning time with the kids nor my evening time with Mr. Oscoey so we will have to find a way to reduce our costs without bringing too much stress into our lives.
Balance is key when you are a working parent.
What could we do with an extra $3900 a year? I can think of so many things but I would absolutely love to travel with part of it and invest the rest. If we saved $3900 for the remaining 6 years that we are paying for after care for both kids it would be a grand total of $23,400 plus interest! This small change would have a huge impact over time. It is definitely something I am going to work on and see if even leaving 30 minutes earlier will save us that hour of child care in the afternoon.
What small changes are you making that have a huge impact on your life?
Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off […]
Travelling has always been something that we have wanted to do as a family but we have never actually done much of. Before we had the youngest we took 2-4 small trips a year spread between Oregon, the Washington Coast and Vancouver, BC for a […]
A few months back I wrote my first post after going back to work (A not so Brief Hiatus) about the gap in blogging while I went back to work. I didn’t blog for eight months last time which was almost the entire length of my employment until I was laid off in October. Although this time around the break from blogging was shorter at seven months the long break did feel very long. I have had so many ideas floating around in my head about blogging that I wish I had really had the time to write everything out but the reality is that my week is packed and the weekends aren’t any better.
We have made a huge effort this year to go out and do things. I have always wanted to travel more and this year instead of always talking about traveling I decided we were just going to go ahead and do it. It has been a huge success! We have so far gone to San Francisco, Eastern Washington, checked out the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington and headed up north to the tulip fields. We have two family trips scheduled for June, a yet to be determined beach vacation penciled in this summer, a something else over Labor Day weekend and we are trying to figure out what to do towards the end of the year. Our family has had an awesome time and our kids love getting out of the house and exploring new areas. We are definitely going to try to hike a bit more this year now that our youngest is three and can keep up for almost a mile before getting tired so any family friendly hikes you know of in the PNW I would love to hear them!
I started back up at work right before Christmas and I absolutely love my new job. It is at a much larger company with room to grow. My schedule is flexible enough and most importantly of all it is pretty low stress. My biggest complaint is my commute but we are torn about moving closer into the big city with the market starting to be unstable so for now it will continue to be a huge chunk of my day. I am now driving a hybrid car and even though I drive 2-3 hours (yes it really is that bad) each weekday getting to and from work and picking up kids after school I am only filling up my gas tank once a month or so at $40 a tank which is so low I don’t ever worry any more about how much we are spending on gas every month.
About eight months ago I took a break from blogging. There were many reasons, the most pressing being a complete utter lack of time while trying to maintain balance with both Mr. Oscoey and I working full-time with small kids. To say it was difficult […]
Meal Planning to Save Time and Money I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]
Going Back to Work
Three weeks ago on a Monday marked a new day in the Oscoey household. For the first time in over three years I am no longer a stay at home mom. I went back to work and the next few months will be a season of change for us. I looked for six months for a job that is a good fit for me and I am pretty sure I found it! It is all very exciting and new and I am sure the first few weeks will be difficult but in the long run it will be better for our family. I have not worked full-time since our oldest daughter was in elementary school and even then it was a retail job so I did not have regular hours. This new job will be my first full-time job with regular hours and I am really excited about it!
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Preparing for going back to work
The last couple of weeks prior to starting work were pretty hectic catching up on last minute tasks that needed to be completed before I no longer had a bunch of time. Laundry, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments and hiring a nanny topped my list. I would have loved to have the entire house scrubbed from top to bottom but we had a busy weekend before I went back and that just didn’t happen. I settled for reasonably clean and a solid plan in place as to when regular household tasks will be complete.
We originally wanted to hire a nanny for morning drop offs but it kept getting delayed and after a couple of weeks of Mr. Oscoey dropping the kids off he didn’t want to give up that special time with the kids so we are going to try and make it work without one. I start before day care opens but hopefully after I have been at work a while I will have some flexibility with my start time. Child care is a major expense for working families and one of the reasons I held out for so long when finding a job is that I wanted to earn enough that we weren’t breaking even with day care costs.
The change from SAHM to Working Mom
The hardest part of going back to work has been the mental part. My kids had a super easy adjustment. They love their school and my daughter is always asking to stay later so she can hang out with her friends more and now she is able to do that every day and she loves it. My son loves his class too and is always smiling and laughing when I pick him up. Sometimes he doesn’t want to leave either. Neither kid has a hard time at drop off so we at least do not have that to add to the stress of returning to work but I am still having a bunch of mom guilt about going back which is totally normal. It hit me really hard this week when we all came down with the flu. My husband and daughter had it first and I went to work on Monday and Tuesday not being the one at home with a sick kid all day and even though I knew Mr. Oscoey would be an awesome care taker of her it was still hard. My job the past few years has been to take care of the kids and I was always the one to care for them when they were sick while my husband went off to work. Needless to say Mr. Oscoey did an awesome job and I am really grateful that he was able to stay home with her.
Family time is more precious
The biggest challenge for me the past week weeks with working has been time. I have been trying to spend a little bit of time with each kid every day. My daughter gets up with me in the morning and we eat breakfast together before I leave for work. After school I try and get some alone time with my son for a bit before bed time. We have had really busy weekends the past few weeks with a day trip to visit Bellingham, two school auctions, Easter, birthday parties and the usual weekly family activities of dance/gymnastics class. It has been a challenge to fit everything in and I am definitely going to have to scale back my gardening this year but I am more focused on the family when we are all together and as an added bonus since the kids are not home all week making messes the house cleaning has gotten easier. I am looking ahead in our calendar and we have a few full days free on the weekends and I think we should spend some of that time on family day trips to maximize family bonding.
The one thing I have been missing since I went back to work has been the ability to exercise regularly. I worked pretty hard to get back into a great exercise routine the past six or so months and one of the things I had to give up when returning to work was my weekly Stott Pilates sessions. I miss it quite a bit. I am on a waiting list for if a spot opens outside of work hours but I am afraid if I wait too long I will lose all of the progress I worked hard for. I also miss my semi-regular long walks with a good friend. We have been walking for over a year and I will greatly miss our talks and the opportunity to get some much needed exercise in as well! Now that the weather is starting to get better I am going to try going for shorter walks in the evenings in my neighborhood after the kids go to bed. I am also going to try and locate a Pilates studio near my work so that I can continue my progress. I am pretty exhausted when I get home from work but I sit at a desk all day long so exercising after work is a necessity for long term health.
The first few weeks back to work have been a season of change in the Oscoey household. How has going back to work after a period of being home changed your household?
I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is […]