Saturday, January 11, 2014

Working on the household budget as a family.

After a bit of a kerfuffle with Hubs over the fact that he wanted an upgrade on an item that I wholeheartedly refused, he saw me sitting at the computer staring at the Family Budget.

"Oh, no!  Not the Family Budget!"

"It's the time of year.  I do it twice a year."

After crunching numbers and moving things around, adding some additional expenses and (thankfully) some additional monies into proper places, I was ready to present my report to my people during dinner.

Hubs saw the paper sitting on the table.  "But I have to work out tonight.  You can't deny me working out!"

"It'll be a dinnertime discussion and I believe that you'll basically be pleased."

As we were enjoying the Pinterest deconstructed pot pie that I made, we reviewed changes that occurred over the last 6 months.  I went over my Family Budget report line by line.  Each of us discussed different things, but we discussed it together-- as a family.

I can't speak for Hubs, but I know that my experience in growing up gives me visions of my mom sitting at the kitchen table, juggling bills and the checkbook.  We were definitely poor, but Mom always paid the bills and paid them on time.  Often, I don't know how she managed it, but she did.  However, she didn't hide away and cover up the fact that there were finances and little money and some pretty hefty stretching that needed to happen.  It was good for me to see this.  As a childhood experience, I don't look at it as a negative, but rather as a positive to show me that you have bills, you have money and you can only spend what you have.  If you don't have money for it, don't spend it.  Believe me, there were plenty of times we would have liked different things as kids, but there was no additional spending money for them.  Don't get me wrong, we had food on the table and clothes on our backs.  There was a time when I was in second grade that my brother (4 years younger) shared pants.  You do what you have to do.  The only real time that I remember crying about not having extra money was when the book fliers came in and were passed out.  I always wanted a book and could never get one.  That is why Scholastic is a $5 line item on our Family Budget for K.

We discussed with K that while we have money in savings and in the bank accounts, "living within our means" is a bit different for us.  We talked about jobs not always being stable, but having savings there as a fall back.  We talked about being blessed to pay for our car and not to have a car payment, but that we worked very hard to make that happen.  We talked about health insurance costing less, but that copayments are more.  We talked about changing insurance companies and having better coverage for $85 less a month.  We talked about the fact that since we do live within our means and that we do put money into savings, it is the way that we are able to put braces on her teeth.  It also enables us to get glasses for both her and her dad, rather than skipping it or not being able to do it at all.

She told us that she would be willing to sell all of her toys at a yard sale to put money into the family savings.  Bless her dear sweet heart.  We told her that it is definitely not necessary, but that we appreciated her offer.  We told her that she needs to remember that when we go to the store and she asks for $1, $2 or, "It's just $4, Mom," that it is all little monies that add up to a lot.  She also came up with another idea.  "I have a great idea!  When we aren't home or we're sleeping, we can turn the electricity off."  Now, I do believe that this idea was a spin-off of the water issue we experienced this summer with the bathroom.  We did have to shut the water off at the main valve because of intense faucet leaking (bathtub 2 1/2 gallons an hour) while we were working on correcting the problem and awaiting our wonderful plumber to be available.  We explained why that option wouldn't work, but applauded the problem solving that she was doing.

We discussed how it is an incredible savings for her to have a uniform for school and how wonderful it is that we're able to re-wear some things from one year to the next. We talked about how we go to the uniform swap to trade out/buy new uniform pieces and by going to the thrift and the resale CD store that we're saving a lot of money.

We talked about how we know that a lot of kids in her school got tablets for Christmas and as those are grand, we have a computer that we all use and she loves reading paper books.  I told her that we talked with Santa and we just can't do big Christmas' like that.  She also brought up different things that people spend money on that would be viewed as wasteful to us and by us not buying or buying into such things saves a lot.

She knows that church and the local homeless shelter are line items on our budget.  They come from the first fruits.  We're blessed to be able to do so and she is the one to drop the check into the plate each week.  I was brought up in a home where we were regular church attenders and no matter how little we had, Mom always put something into the offering plate.  She knows that we only have what we have because of God.  Even Hubs chanted to me this afternoon what I've always said to him, "We've always been provided for."  Even as that is true, it is still up to us to be responsible with what is given to us.

Our discussion went on for about an hour.  We explained things to K and she had different ideas and questions.  It is important for us to have this money to be viewed as "family money" and not "our money."  It is so very important to Hubs and me to teach K to be financially responsible because you never know what is going to happen.  A few years before K's arrival, I lost my job.  I was out of a job for a summer.  I was working a job for a friend, but outside of one $500 paycheck, I was stiffed for the other $1000.  I drew unemployment for about 6 weeks until I got the job that I have today.  I was out of work for a month after the loss of Bailey and recovering from preeclampsia/eclampsia.  I was out of work for a few weeks when I had knee reconstruction.  I broke my foot, but missed no work despite that.  Still, there were bills.  Hubs went from one park district to another, cutting his salary by 25%.  The old RAV was paid off, but wrecked and totaled a result of someone rear ending us, leaving us to get a new car and back to a car payment.  We bought a house that needed a new roof, new doors and new windows.  All of those expenses ended up being far more than our original estimate.  We also needed a new furnace, whole house air conditioning (we didn't have that), and a new washer.  The bathtub faucet needed tightened, which turned into needing replaced, which turned into needing a new surround, then some exterior repair needed done because the exhaust fan stopped exhausting, a plumber was needed and while he is extremely reasonable (and didn't charge enough so I sent another check) it was a project we didn't see coming.  My bathroom got repainted though.  With that, we reused everything we could and repainted everything we could instead of ripping everything out and replacing.  We did other things around the house and yard that were needed.  There is continual maintenance on house, cars and health.  I have a habit of getting holes in my tires.  In the last week, all of us have been to the dentist and my two people have gone for glasses.  My point of rambling is that we were explaining to K that though we have a budget, things come up and we don't want to run ourselves so tight on the budget that there isn't room to take care of the extras that come up that need tended to.

Consider discussing finances with your children.  Sometimes you'll have a better report than others.  In order for us to raise financially responsible kids, we have to be their role model.  Sometimes you can't get the upgrade.  Sometimes you choose a fuel efficient car over a nice shiny truck.  (Hubs' personal choice and it was a great one.)  Sometimes you have to eat food you have and though it isn't what you are hungry for, it needs to be consumed.   Sometimes you have to say no.  Sometimes you have to pull out a needle and thread.  Sometimes you have to carry your mom's backpack from her college days.  (A purple Jansport made in the US and the vintage age of 22 years old with a leather bottom and wearing like iron.  You'd never guess it to be that age at all!)  Sometimes birthday parties are craft kits that you have that you share with your friends, and a laid back at-home party with a sleepover instead of a destination party.  Sometimes summer sandals are ones that your mom bought for herself (in your favorite color) and wore only a few times and passed down to you because she didn't know when you would grow out of them because shoe sizes weren't lasting that long at that point.  (K loved them!)  Sometimes it means camping in the dirt and not sleeping in a hotel.  Whatever it means to your family, discuss it with your kids.  They need to know that credit cards need paid back, life isn't free, money doesn't grow on trees and bills need paid.  Don't sweep it under the rug.  Teach them.

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