I'm not one for labels, though, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't read them whilst in the grocery store. What is on sale this week that doesn't also contain high fructose corn syrup? Cheap popcorn! Oh wait... it's GMO.
I flip through the weekly flyers, but don't obsess with a coupon folder ( anymore.)
I wait until payday, and hope the milk not treated with growth hormones is still on sale - if not, I only buy 2 instead of 3 - certainly can't go without milk.
When I check out at the cashier and hand her a few roughly ripped coupons, I hope I did alright. Slyly I leave the Oreo's in the stack of baskets under the conveyor along with the cute travel mug, bag of chocolate bars, the second box of cheese-its, and few miscellaneous things the kids tossed in while I wasn't looking - or, that I tossed in spur of the moment.
The nice old couple behind me, surely with only good intentions, points out my discarded items bring them to my kids's attention - I suppose the battle over the Oreos is really not one I feel like fighting; I get the Oreos.
The total: I'm sure we have it in our account. I check to be sure. There are few things more embarrassing then a rejected card. We just paid a month of day-care for two kids, the rent, life insurance, car insurance, health insurance, the phone bill, the power bill, the cable bill, the water bill, the trash bill, a month of Netflix, filled the car with gas, and of course two student loan payments. It's what everyone pays, right?
Here's where I bring class back into it.
My husband has an amazing and stressful, yet fulfilling career as a University Professor, and I work two part time jobs and teach one University class. I'm overeducated and underemployed.
Surely due to bad money management, thousands of dollars in unexpected medical expenses, and another family move, we're almost breaking even at the end of each month - putting off larger bills and paying them off bit by bit.
We make too much money for any assistance, and not enough money to get ahead.
And so are thousands of other working families.
Daycare costs a good deal more than our rent. Basically, I work to pay daycare costs. I tried staying home, but I suck at being a stay at home mom. There is no assistance for families like ours - and really, we're not asking for any help, but it would be nice to get a break every once in a while.
I call this the plight of the Upper lower class.
We give to those who have less than we do, and respect what we do have. We are a loving family, but fight about a stupid cup of fancy coffee, or a meal out towards the end of the month.
We're planning a family vacation and cant seem to agree on how to bring it to fruition. Hourly workers don't get sick leave. Hourly workers don't get vacation time. Hourly workers don't get paid when they have to stay home when the kids are sick.
How do we fix it?
Can we pare down our expenses anymore?
Can we get a home loan with very little if any cash down, so our mortgage would be less then the rent we pay? Hell no, no one will loan to us.
Babysitters charge more than I make per hour, but I stay because my boss is flexible, lets me work when I can, and take time off without giving me too hard a time.
We need a second car to allow more freedom to take more work and allow children transport, but I drive a motorcycle and get 70 mpg and pay $11/ month in insurance. It's also paid off. The one car we have gets dozens of miles a day getting everyone where they need to. We do what we need to do.
What's the solution? Pay teachers more? Sure. Have daycare subsidized by the government? It's a dream. Allow low rate loans for families with good intentions and big dreams? Unlikely.
We're not alone, and we will all continue to do our best. We will continue to give back to the community when we can. We will be the best friends and parents we can be, and try not to fight about money too often.
I'm sitting on my couch watching my kids pretend to take a vacation - their school is closed today due to "staff training"; we still paid for the entire week. I love their imagination, they are arguing what they can take in their carry-on purses, and it seems everything has to be orange. Not sure why.
Perhaps they know something I don't. When you're a kid, you have everything you could ever want, ever need, or ever hope for. There is a song for everything. A piece of clay has infinite possibilities and a piece of paper an emotional expression.
I envy their existence, and strive to emulate it.
If only the Barbie credit card were real, The Hi-Ho Cherries were cash, that Matchbox Minivan was fueled and outside, the Lego Jet was at our disposal, and that Little People's 5 bedroom house were ours.
"Stop jumping on the beds! I know the floor is shark infested lava, but you don't have to jump to avoid it!"