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 […]
One Year of Blogging Done!
Last weekend was the one year anniversary of Oscoey. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I have learned a lot about blogging over the past year and gotten to know many fabulous bloggers as well.
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When I first started out blogging with my very first blog post:
I had all sorts of ideas of what I wanted the blog to be and then the reality of life set in and I had to way scale back my ambitious plans. There simply was not time for me to be posting quality posts 3 days a week, be on top of social media all day long and be an active member of all the blog groups I am part of and have some semblance of a home life. Luckily I realized pretty early on that it is ok if I can’t write an article for a few weeks or if I miss out on pivotal twitter discussions because I am not doing the blog as a full-time business making gig. I am doing it because I enjoy writing about our life and I love the community of people I have become a part of.
My blog first started out as a basic mom blog with many posts about the garden and recipes. I loved my weekly garden posts and will continue them on a less frequent basis this year. I love looking back at how the garden changed over the growing season. I am probably going to scale back on the recipes though. Mr. Oscoey is more the cook in the family and now that I am working again I really don’t have time to cook much any more. I use my banana bread and chocolate chip cookies recipes all the time though. They are a great dairy and gluten free choice for any sort of social gathering you need to bring an item to. I am planning on making my dairy and gluten-free banana bread to bring with a jar of homemade jam to our work potluck at the end of this month.
I have spent a little time focusing on urban homesteading on Oscoey because I firmly believe that people should grow at least a little of their own food. It is easy to set out a pot and even just grow a little bit of lettuce. Connecting with nature and understanding the seasons is something a lot of people have lost. Growing your own food is the easiest way to regain that connection and as an added bonus you have cheap organic produce to munch on! I am very excited to start our garden this year and I look forward to spending time out there with the kids every day. They love to graze and eat whatever is in season and that is fine with us!
After I had done the mom blog thing for a while and focused on our little urban homestead I found the personal finance community and I haven’t really looked back. I love reading about personal finance, talking about savings strategies and getting inspiration from others. I will be honest and tell you I was a little nervous when I added the “Finances” category to the top of my page but then I did the Uber Frugal Month Challenge this January and I loved being a part of that community and jump starting our frugal mindset once again.
My crossstitching progress pictures seem to have fallen by the wayside…and that is mostly because I have not been stitching. I would love to have the time to stitch every day and I am very inspired by my Instagram feed with everybody’s progress but I am honestly too tired at the end of the day to even think about picking up a needle. This picture was taken almost a year ago and even though I have actually made progress on the piece I am no where near finished with it like I had hoped. I also have several sewing projects I would love to write about that I have not worked on in months so I think one of my blogging goals for this year is to talk about some of my projects and spend some time tracking them on a weekly basis to motivate me to finish them.
Oscoey had a great first year! I want to thank everyone that is a regular reader of the blog! I love your comments and interacting with you. Here’s hoping to another great year of blogging!
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 […]