I'm recycling that post title from one 3 years ago. It's fitting.
I've been reluctant to blog about this. I've been reluctant to speak about this. I've only told two friends and just within the past week. The economy is kicking our butt in ways I never imagined and it's scary.
We have always been very responsible when it comes to money. We have a money market account into which we file away a percentage of our income every month. While we do give ourselves some leeway, we don't spend money frivolously. We discuss all big purchases and anything over $30 is a big purchase. I ALWAYS look for a deal on kids' items and we buy consignment when at all possible. We have health insurance because not having any is not an option. If there's a medical emergency, we will not be solely responsible for insane bills. Remember, my daughters' birth and NICU stay was over $200,000 which was completely covered by Tricare. Each time, before we started trying to conceive, I insisted we have a certain amount of money saved--enough to tide us over should we need it.
Well, thanks to the state of the economy and a bit of a catastrophe we dealt with a while ago (about which I didn't feel compelled to blog), we're hurting financially and it kills me. Dh's income has suddenly dropped to 1/3 of what it was. I realized the other day that we now qualify for food stamps. How in the hell does that happen? How does that happen to us?
Our money market account is almost gone. Every month, I've had to transfer money to our checking to pay our bills. And our bills are NOT extravagant. We no longer have cable. We get our books and DVDs from the library. The only things I've bought for this baby have been from the clearance racks and even then, not much at all. I haven't bought anything for the bigger kids at all with the exception of shoes they needed all of which were on clearance. We're not eating out at all.
We have a baby due in a matter of weeks. I'm more than a little scared now. We were financially safe when we started TTC and even through most of this pregnancy. Now, though, not so much and that worries me. I asked for stroller/bouncy seat recomendations, but when I saw a bouncy at a rummage sale for $8 the other day, I thought, "We can get by without it." Dh and I were considering looking at strollers at a consignment sale in 2 weeks, but now I don't think we'll get one at all. We can't afford it.
This is killing me. We've always been responsible with our money. The only designer clothing our kids have ever worn came from garage sales or were hand-me-downs. We are not the types who take trips to exotic locations. Hell, our only family vacations, with one exception for which my parents' paid, have been to visit family (and even that aforementioned parent-funded Disney trip while dh was deployed was actually to visit cousins we hadn't seen in years). Yes we have what I consider luxuries, but we have the bare minimum (cell phones, but no internet access, fancy phones, or text plan).
Anything that costs money has to wait. We've had to put off major and minor repairs because we don't want to spend the money. When the kids were sick a few weeks ago, I didn't take them to the doctor because I knew they'd all be charged the $150 fee each for first-time visits in addition to any prescriptions we'd need. Yes, our insurance helps, but not enough. And yes, if the illness had gotten worse, I would have taken them in, but just the thought of having to balance my kids' well-being with what we can/can't afford killed me.
This lack of money is breaking my heart. My mother had some serious health issues lately. All I wanted to do was jump on a plane to help her, but we can't afford it. My FIL's cancer is back and he's nearly halfway through with his radition. I know a visit from the kids would lift his spirits, but we can't do it. Bubbe is getting worse. When she passes away, we cannot afford to go to her funeral.
Our whole lives are now on hold because we don't know what to do. We don't know what we can afford to do. We were supposed to move closer to family after the baby is born (remember, the military left us in a state where we have no family), but we don't know if the house will sell given the current market and the downpayment we had saved for another house is gone. We had to use it to pay for gas and food.
Luckily, we're getting some money back from taxes. Dh's work load has picked up quite a bit in the past week. We know we have more money headed our way. That has me sighing with relief (at the rate we're going, our money market account would have only lasted us another 3 months before it's gone). Still, I'm terrified. I don't know what to expect. We're trying to be proactive, but this all came on so suddenly. What do we do? What can we afford to do?