WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Budgeting with Mito


Like many Mito families and most American families right now, - finances are always a tug a war around here!

The other night I was watching the Houston news. They were talking about the Janitor's union being on strike. I don't know enough about their Union to have an opinion about why they are striking, but one of the Janitor's adult daughters was giving an interview. What caught my attention was how she described living on Janitor's income- she did not complain about time, nor about educational opportunities, nor about medical care or even food- she was whining about how terrible it is to be a school child and not have high end kicks like "all" the other kids- Yep- any sympathy I had for her plight flooded quickly down the tube. Derek and I prioritized family and education above everything else. I grew up in a not affluent family, but very comfortable and any of my family that were affluent got that way through education,saving and hard work. Derek grew up in a lower middle class family- Our families failed us at various turns, but one thing they always focused on, was to get an education! When did we as American's quit teaching our poor our middleclass even, that the free education they are offered has far more value then a pair of designer shoes and an Iphone? Okay- so got that rant out of the way, and here are some of our tricks to living on a budget.

When our oldest was born my husband and I decided that 1 fulltime parent was necessary. We were both products of divorced parents and it just felt right to know 1 parent was the fulltime caregiver. Turned out to be me! :-)

So, before Mito even came into our lives we learned to budget. When only one parent works you make the choice that you are not going to have everything that a dual income family has, and that has been fine with us. Over the years sometimes we have had to sell the second car, or not have cable or cellphones, but the option would have been me working and losing that "anchor" of 1 parent at home. I have been fortunate that my girls are not the types that need the latest and greatest and appreciate saving up for special items- they enjoy the creative outlet of being thrifty. Sara remembers the year we lived in an apartment without a washer and dryer- often I had to chose between paying for the washer or dryer or food. Sara and I have great memories of pretending our dirty clothes in the tub were grapes and we were making wine! LOl Or the year I bought yards of old drapes and made sundresses for two years out of them! :-) She and Abby delight in those memories-it was because I made it fun and creative and we spent time together.

Abby's diagnostics inhaled any dollars around here! We were just recovering from a job loss in Seattle and I don't remember having to stretch the dollars that far in probably 20 years! LOl But we did it! Now that our budget is higher then ever, I have hung onto my thrifty ways, partially because I worry that I need that money in reserve to prevent hitting bottom if Abby tanks in the future, and partially, because I find being cheap a challenge and joyful! Not to mention, we aren't going to be young forever! Time to get very serious about retirement. Selling the second car to pay to travel to Drs. during the diagnostic period was well worth it, as we say around here, it is what it is! Plus, it feels good to do it ourselves. We are just stubborn enough that we may haggle for a discount but we haven't had to accept charity. We were very lucky over the years to be apart of a group of friends who always shared with us when they could, and it feels terrific to be able to share back again! I will say having a second car again has been simply amazing! I clearly appreciate the little things more, and the big things like a second car is equivalent to winning the lottery to us! :-)

Our rules: Pay cash. Save your money and don't use credit. Believe me, I know how painful that is.. but if you can everything else will seem easy.

Buy used- new cars lose a ton of value the minute you buy it. Wood furniture can be refinished, add new hardware, a fresh coat of paint and you saved at least 50 percent plus odds are a better quality piece then new today.

No eating out- Abby cannot as there isn't anywhere safe for her, but skipping starbucks or a soda at a drive thru adds up! Put that few dollars away and in a matter of weeks you would be shocked how much you have saved! Not to mention you have just probably lost a pound or two avoiding empty calories!

NEED vs WANT- Of course I look with envy at the ladies with the new Coach purse every other month, or the latest hair color- but at the end of the day, they are wants, not needs. We do allow ourselves wants now and then but really try to think about whether we just want it because the Jone's have it, or because we really want it and will use it. With our income increased significantly this year I have a lot more buying power. I have been wanting a Vitamix- what woman doesn't? however, for as much cooking as I do I just thought 500 bucks for a blender outrageous.. I did need a blender however to be able to make a better variety of foods for Abby but it was still more a want- I saw the new Ninja with 1100 watts- that was almost the same power as a vitamix- it had all the bells and whistles and was only 170.00 bucks- plus a terrific door to door warranty and simple return if it turned out to be a lemon- so I satisfied my need and want and saved ourselves a lot of money by not buying into brand name envy! FYI- I love that Ninja! I use it nearly 3 times a week at least! Years ago I had a kitchen Aid which I ended up selling to offset bills during the tough years,- I mourned the loss of that mixer- but it was the "status" that I mourned not it's use. It took up a ton of counter space and I found the accessory pieces to be a bit of a pain. I could buy another one now, but find my handmixer that fits easily in the cabinet works terrific for everything I need it for- so not buying a kitchen Aid. Clearly a case of Want vs Need. Sometimes I can satisfy a WANT through my second hand addiction. Abby doesn't have to eat ice cream, but if she is going to it has to be homemade because of all her restrictions. I happened across a compressor style ice cream maker that you don't have to mess with a freezer bowl for 30 bucks brand new in the box still!! Those easily cost up to 300 brand new- a bit of a chance to buy a used appliance but 30 bucks was worth it- that machine has more then gotten it's money worth and other then struggling to find a place to store it has been a joyful and cheap want!

Clothes- I admit I am addicted- I am a "quality snob". Here is the deal though, if the walmart item is quality and the best bang for the buck that is what I would buy- I am not a brand snob. What I have found though is that usually Walmart brands are not quality and cost more then a quality item sold used- I am a consignment and thrift queen for clothes. Last week I got the cutest pair of Theory new seersucker capri's for 3 bucks- a pair of capri's on their clearance page online run anywhere from 90 to 170.00 bucks! Cost me far less then Walmart, very high quality and the fit is terrific!. I do buy new on occasion, but I have the 20 dollar rule- if I cannot get it for under 20 bucks new I won't buy it. I have gotten some amazing deals just by being patient. A new pair of Lucky brand jeans- for 19. An adorable Loft sweater for 8.00... It can be done. I also only take with me the amount of cash I am willing to spend. If I have a shopping day, I will tuck 60.00 in my wallet. I usually come home with cash and plenty of needs and wants. I also do not buy snacks or drinks while shopping,my family knows to pack a drink and snack.

Coupons- not a huge coupon fan. At least for food. Most of the products that have coupons are full of chemicals or ingredients Abby cannot eat- or I find another brand that is actually cheaper or the store brand- so not worth my time. Some coupons are golden though. If I am working on a project a 50 percent of coupon at Hobby Lobby will help offset the cost the bottle of paint I "want". We only use Scotts Toilet Paper as it is one of the few that is corn-free, when I find those coupon's I am overjoyed. But, buying things just because you have a coupon can lead to a lot of wasted money.

Lastly- Share and Swap. Huge fan of giving. If I have more tomatoes then we can eat I can always find folks glad to take them off my hands. When I clean out the cabinets and find excess school supplies someone on craigslist or freecycle is thrilled to come pick them up. If I canned too much applebutter? A friend might like a jar or they will be great in a Christmas package. I know first hand what it is like to struggle to pay the power bill or buy paper products- If I know someone that needs a hand because they aren't able to have the BASICS their NEED comes before my WANT. I try very hard to share locally. Though I like the idea of feeding a child in Africa for a year with 20 bucks, I would much rather feed someone in my own community for 40.

Mito supplements, home schooling, medical supplies do add up, but we all have something that can be trimmed from the budget. It stinks to get up at 5am and wake up sleepy kids to drop the hubby at work, but it can be done. We lived for years without a cellphone- until home phones are no longer available, you can live without one. Nike shoes are great, but betcha you can find last seasons for half the price. Used Loft clothes for 5 bucks last 10 times as long as a 20.00 Walmart shirt and fits better too!

We have changed our lifestyle, goals, to fit our children's needs, that is what parents do, we put our children first, they did not ask to be born and they are our most valued part of our lives. Most times it is very easy.- Mito is no different then if your child needs early college, or if you have a gifted cheerleader- those activities are expensive like having Mito is, and like Mito they are simply part of the individual needs of your child that you are responsible for because they are yours. Despite the restrictions Mito puts on many of our lives there are benefits. We prioritize our family. We prioritize our home(since we are home so much!)we appreciate being creative. On a bad day Abby has developed some keen management skills and from a couch or bed and is willing to share what she see's and often her quiet insights help complete a project. We have stopped envying the Jone's. We have learned to appreciate just feeling good. As they say we stop and smell the roses.

As I have read blogs from other Mito families I see that appreciation for the true things in life bloom under the stress of Mito. Despite the cruelty of this disease or any chronic illness there are gifts. We just need to take our blinders off(aka the Jone's) and see them.


Betsy said...

I find myself agreeing with so much of what you say, but often don't have time to answer. :)

Although I at one time intended to go back to work, mito/autism got in the way. I am good with that most of the time. I have those occasional homeschooling days where I am about to rip my hair out, but I overall I feel blessed to be able to spend my days with my wonderful children.

My dh is military so we have great insurance that unfortunately does not cover CoQ10 and many of our other supplements. I find that we spend most of our money on supplements and food (we all eat the same restricted diet). For me quality clothes, supplements, and good / real food rank high on my list.

I think most people put their wants before their needs. It truly is all about priorities.

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