Monday, November 7, 2011

We've Got to Start Figuring Out How to Save $

After years and years of just barely having enough money to get by (and, often, not enough). I've been thinking about the future and it is scary. In the near future, I have the oldest to think about. He's in high school. This has already cost us money - sports fees, yearbook, a couple of field trips, and "special" fund raisers where they order a bunch of pizza and sell it at lunch time. Not to mention his constant needs for school supplies. And it always seems that the money for these things is due just a few days after I hear about it. It's not like I have an envelope of money sitting around from which I can take the $5 or $10 he needs. And, in a couple of years there will be prom, driver's ed, all the costs that come with graduation...

And after high school, there's college. Yes, he'll have to get student loans. But they won't pay for everything. My oldest wants to go to University of Michigan, so he's going to need a place to live, food & utility money, he'll have to buy books, and then there are all of the incidentals that go with being a college student. He'll probably end up needing to get a job or participate in a work study program. But I don't want him to miss the experience of the care-free college days - he'll have enough to bear when he gets out of school - he deserves to have a good time. It all takes money.

Little Guy is a little easier - for now. His wants and needs are simple. But, he'll be growing up and following in his big brother's footsteps. While the plan is to unschool him, plans sometimes go awry and then we're back to going to school and the fund raisers, year books, and field trips.

My dream has always been to live somewhere far away from people. Off the grid and self-sufficiently. I've spent years learning how to refurbish an old farmhouse and even how to build my own home. I have the basics down when it comes to plumbing, electricity, and heating. I know about the types of things I will need to grow in a garden to ensure we'll have enough food year-round. I even read up on raising animals for food (though I think I may just end up having some chickens, goats, and cows just for the eggs and milk!) Well, here's the one piece of good news I have about the future: In an article I found on, it can be done!

However, my biggest concern is what lies ahead for us in the far future. My husband has all kinds of health concerns that, in reality, will end up killing him. No matter what changes he makes in his life right now, it won't undo the damage he's done to his body previously. He was a drug addict through most of the 70's, 80's and 90's. He has medical emergencies due to his drug use that should have killed him more than once, but he managed to survive. These all left some kind of lasting medical problems that is getting worse with age. I don't know how long he has, but in the past year or so, he's been diagnosed with new debilitating problems that really have no cure. They can be controlled with medications and therapies for a time, but they'll never go away and slowly get worse.

How on earth will we manage when his physical and mental states just give out? Right now, I am able to make a little money here and there from surveys. I'm also working on getting back into school so I'll have a career to help keep our needs paid for. But what happens when I can no longer work? If there's no money now, there certainly won't be any later!

So, I did some checking around online and found this savings calculator at Discover Bank. I've never had reason to use one before because I just figured that those were for people who had extra money to stash away for retirement or even a rainy day. But, I found that I can really make some kind of a plan that will make sure I have at least a little bit saved up for when it will be needed most.

And, by using the savings calculator, I can figure out how much I'll need to save for my oldest's needs, Little Guy's upcoming needs, and how much I'll need just in case all hell breaks loose and it looks like we're screwed. But, most importantly, I can use it to figure out how much I will need to have to realize my dream of being self-sufficient. Once I have the goal in place and know how much I'll need, I can slowly scrape together the pennies needed to realize that goal. For me, having a visual, such as a graph, that shows me how much I'm saving will really help me out. Questions like, "Do you really need that, or would you rather have a house?" will pop into my head as I get ready to make an unnecessary purchase, along with a visual of that graph.

So, while I'm still worrying about keeping the electric company happy at this very moment, I'm feeling some hope for the future. How do you keep track of savings? Have you ever used a savings calculator to figure out where you stand?

*This is a sponsored post. I will receive compensation for it. However, as always, ALL opinions are mine!


Paula Wethington said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Don't be discouraged about a college student working part time or taking work study. As long as it's a PT job with FT classes, or FT job with PT classes, it's fine. My daughter had a PT job or work study every semester except the one she was on study abroad - and she still graduated in four years.

Jen Crum said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It is SO hard to save money. I can't imagine trying to figure out how to do it in your current situation. We have a little savings, but it regularly gets eaten away by things like chimney repair and roof leaks..

I too hope to homestead some day. We've got to get rid of some debts before we can look into getting some land outside of the city.

It sounds like you're looking into some good options.

Alicia C. said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Paula Wethington Thank you for telling me. It really makes me feel less anxious about his having a good time. It's just that he really deserves a chance to let down his hair and get a little fun out of life for a while. He's a great kid who takes on responsibility that most 18-year-olds don't even know about!
I think he can manage to find a PT job and attend classes FT and still have a social life...

Alicia C. said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Jen Crum You know how a few pennies here and there don't seem like they're worth saving? Well, that's where I'm starting. Even loose change adds up! Then there are those times when I hit a thrift store and see something I really like. I don't need another shirt, but I think "Hey, it's only $0.50! That's a geat deal!" If I pass it up, the money can be put into savings. We might only get $2-5 ahead each month, but it's something!

(Oh, and if you're looking into homesteading, I highly recommend "Back to Basics" It's a reader's Digest book ISBN: 0-89577-939-0 Open to any page and prepare to be enthralled!)

Smart Ass Sara said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Preach it.. :/ I can't find enough money to get everything done yet we're as frugal as we can be. It's so frustrating and now that I'm learning how Medicare REALLY works (thanks, Bush administration), I'm even more depressed. I realized after looking through my mom's costs just to have Medicare, my 10 years of retirement will get me through one year of medical expenses in retirement. Awesome.