Hard Choices Part 4

It’s time to update my current list of our family’s wants and needs. As I’m learning, prioritizing among various needs and wants is a never-ending task.  Once you cross one item off the list, another major expense usually jumps up in its place.

I should update this more often so that big expenses are top of mind. I didn’t even realize that I had two pricey personal care items on the list until I wrote this post.

1) Car #1 Repairs (Spouse) – $1,500 – Have been putting this off for many, months. Check Engine light keeps coming on. This is the primary family car. 

2)  Airplane ticket to home country (Spouse) – $1,300+ – Spouse has not been home in 4 years. 

smile3) NEW! Retainer replacement (Me) – $400+ – It’s time to replace my old retainers. I have a feeling that this will move to the top of the list very soon. $400 is my estimate for retainers but I would probably have to pay out-of-pocket for the consultation. 

4) NEW! Private Speech Therapy (Kids) – $1,000+ – We’re figuring out how to get much-needed lessons through the tangled web of school district rules, regional center and private insurance. While we’re in this holding period, I’m desperate enough to pay out-of-pocket so that my kid can get a good therapist who doesn’t accept insurance. At $70 per session for at least two 1/2 hour lessons per week, it ain’t cheap! Even if my kid does well with this therapist, it will have to be a short-term solution since we can’t afford this indefinitely.

5) NEW! Spa Day (Me, Gift for Mom) – $300. I already spent $160 on a livingsocial spa deal. Tip would add about $60 to the total. I also have a $50 spa gift card that must be used before September 1st. I don’t know if I can find a spa service for exactly $50 and also need to include tip.

6) Car #2 Maintenance (Me) – $500+ – I need to get the brakes checked.

7) Dental Work (Spouse) – $500 to $2,000  – This is #6 mainly because I have little control over my spouse getting the work done. For my dental work, I want a second opinion.

8) Foam mattress or topper (Both) – $1,000 – $2,200 – This may not move up in ranking until the mattress falls apart.

Other Notes:

ipad-airYou may notice that a new iPad is no longer on the list. I had estimated $600 for this expense but we were able to get one through a generous foundation.

Even though we bought a semi-pro camera for my spouse, we left the airplane ticket on the list. We spent much less on the camera by buying used instead of new.

I just found out that it will cost $120 ($60 per adult) to volunteer at our kids’ school next year. This is for fingerprinting, background checks and office fees. Small items that don’t make the “Hard Choices” list can really add up.

This is one in a series of tips/ideas to help you stay middle-class (HTSMC).  Whether you consider yourself on the lower- or higher-end of the spectrum, you can probably find some useful tips to help you stay there and find save more for retirement even as wages stay stagnant.


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