August 22, 2011

Sacrifices, Splurges, Compromises: Part 1

For those that don't know my whole story, here we go. Until June of 2007, I was working as a scientist in research and development at a major pharmaceutical company. I was making good money, my husband and I had been married a couple years and we had just had our first son. Then they shut down my facility. It was completely unexpected and led to some serious soul-searching. We decided that relocating didn't make sense. My husband is a teacher and was happy in his district. Starting over somewhere else didn't appeal to him and the only option for me to stay in my field (or to enter my dream field-marine biology) was a pretty significant move. So, we decided that I would stay home and take advantage of the retraining allowance that was part of my severance by getting my Master's degree. A few years later I had my degree and our second son. All seemed to be going well. This is where the cuts to my husband's salary come in. Starting next month, we're looking at living on $500 less per month. We're already pretty low-key, frugal people, so where are those cuts going to get made?

First off, let me admit that we both made some dumb financial decisions when we were younger and stupider. We freely admit to our mistakes. Mine are taken care of, thanks to the above-mentioned severance, but we still have some other debts, including student loans that we're dealing with. If we didn't, the cuts would be much less painful. But, it is what it is and we have to deal with it.

So what are the sacrifices and compromises we're making? Cooking at home is now more than a nice idea-it's a necessity. Dinners and lunches out are being reserved for our newly designated "Family Weekend". More on Family Weekend in another post, but basically, one weekend a month is reserved for family and that's the weekend that we may splurge on some eating out.

Another sacrifice is my Artfire store. I was paying for the Pro level store. I've downgraded to Basic, which makes sense anyway. The amount of time needed to keep the store updated and promoted was more than I wanted to spend and, honestly, cut into the time I was spending creating things to put into the store. I love Artfire and highly recommend getting the Pro level store if you're an artisan with a strong online following, but it's not right for me at the moment.

I've been getting a couple projects underway, and while I don't think of them in the "sacrifice" category, it will take some changes to get them going. I have become an Independent Wine Consultant, which allows me to make a little extra money by going to people's houses and hosting wine tastings for them. It's been fun and has already paid for itself in the short time since I've joined. I'm also starting Smarty Party, LLC which is a science-based children's party concept. I'm hoping that, between the two, I can make up most of our income loss and maybe even end up with a little extra.

These changes are just the beginning. As we get used to our new normal there will be more. That's why this is Part 1. I also realize that, compared to so many others, we are extremely lucky. I'm not complaining about a relatively small loss of income when others have lost so much more. I'm just trying to share what we're doing to compensate, in the hopes that someone might be helped in their own situation.


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