Contemplating the doctor’s suggestion to cut back on stress, I quickly pinpointed the two areas that topped my stressor list.
- Money (always). Teenagers are not cheaper than infants or toddlers even though they no longer require diapers, daycare or babysitters. They tend to be involved in extracurricular activities that often come with a significant expense (show choir, anyone?), and to need things like braces. They start driving and your insurance bill doubles, or they don’t drive and you have to chauffeur them. And, of course they are known to have prodigious appetites! Even the 10% discount I get (on store brand products) at the grocery store is no match for the bottomless pit of a teenager’s stomach. Add on things like repaying student loans, paying the insane ER bill ($5,000+ billed to the insurance company ($1,000 my share) for the 5 hours I spent there while they ordered expensive tests and did absolutely nothing to lower my stroke-threatening blood pressure in January) and the not infrequent car repair bills and you can see why we are always stretched to the limit.
- Time, lack thereof. Between working two jobs and commuting my day has little down time in it. A typical two-job day is getting up a bit after 5 AM, hitting the road at a quarter to six, arriving at school by 7:00 AM working until 3:00, driving to the store, working there from 4 to 10 PM and arriving home by 10:45, in bed around 11:30. If I am only working at school but have to pick up a kid for an orthodontist or doctor’s appointment I will spend over 2 hours on the road and drive more than 80 miles making the trip from from home to school, back to the kids’ school, backto town, and then home again. This happens at least twice a month. Throw in meetings in Indy (computer science workshops, professional conferences, coach training) and that’s another long day once or twice a month. Even my best day, Saturday, my only day off, is spent running errands -hauling trash and recycling, filling water jugs, taking clothes to the laundromat, running a kid to play practice or a friend’s house, returning books to the library, doing grocery shopping… I generally do not get enough sleep and I do not have time for a social life at all.
So, money is not an easy problem to solve. Although average teacher pay in Indiana is around $50,000, pay for a beginning teacher, even with a Master’s degree, is about $35,000. Even though I’m now a STEM coach not a classroom teacher my pay is still on the teacher’s scale. Indian teacher pay has actually gone backwards – according to a news article quoting the Department of Education “Pay for Indiana teachers has suffered the biggest inflation-adjusted drop since 1999-2000, according to the Department of Education. They now earn almost 16 percent less.” In other words, I shouldn’t expect a big raise any time soon!
So that leaves job #2, my part-time gig. I’m actually making less money at the store than when I started because they are cutting back hours. They are also about to implement a new procedure that will cut out the need for cashiers! They plan to have a “Scan, Bag and Go” program where shoppers will get a hand scanner, scan groceries as they pick them up in the store, put them in bags and pay electronically. No doubt this will be slow to roll out and there will be problems to work out before they stop needing cashier entirely but I wouldn’t recommend anyone plan on being a retail cashier as their life’s work!
I’m looking at finding a better paying 2nd job and have applied for a 20-hour a week position at the local library that pays $3 more an hour (and I have an interview in 2 weeks!). I’ve also inquired about transferring to the pharmacy at the store. That pays an additional $2 per hour and, since it requires more training, is a more secure position. Both possibilities would incrementally improve my income.
As far as time goes – well, quitting the 2nd job would certainly add more hours to my day but it would make the money situation worse! That leaves moving closer to the places we need to be. And, coincidentally I recently came across an ad on Facebook Marketplace for a fixer-upper in town. A 3-bedroom, one bath house needing repairs. Only $5,000 down and low monthly payments (which would eventually equal about $50,000) and in 8+ years you would own the house. It seemed worth checking out so I emailed the seller.
Days went by and then out of the blue the seller responded with a note giving the key code for the door and saying that there was a new ‘even lower’ down payment. I told him we’d go take a look. This is what we saw. Not a lot of curb appeal but that’s OK.
The next thing we noticed was that the door was moving. It wasn’t closed. My daughters refused to get out of the car but my son and I decided to check it out. We thought perhaps another prospective buyer was inspecting the place. When we got to the door we could see that it was being blown in the wind because not only was there no lock box attached to the door, there was no regular lock!
The seller (who by the way turns out to be located in Texas) characterized the house as needing some work. That was an understatement.
The roof was leaking and there were puddles on the floor and soggy carpet.
There were piles of trash – mostly old food containers littering the floor and broken windows in several rooms. The toilet was full to the brim with foul smelling congealed liquid.
On top of all of that, the neighborhood had little to recommend it. The area behind the house was home to numerous shabby mobile homes with ‘yards’ littered with broken down cars and miscellaneous trash. Across the street were the trash dumpsters belonging to several two-story apartment complexes.
We left and I emailed some of these photos to the seller and wished him luck in unloading the property. Demolition would be my suggestion – at least it would keep the squatters out.
Still the idea of moving into town has taken up residence in my mind – the soon to be smaller family (daughter number 2 leaves for college in August) could possibly fit into an apartment- one with a paved parking area, running water, decent internet and phone reception. Close to my work and opening up possibilities for the teenagers who want jobs and mom who craves connection with other adults. I’ll be keeping my eyes open!