There's a reality check in any family's life. Ours was the impact of medical costs. We are grateful for the exemplary care our son has received by pediatric gastroenterologists, by our providential proximity to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, by the rapid rate of research into treatment and (we pray) a cure for Crohn's Disease, by a generous and responsive health plan provided by my husband's employer, and the fact that Remicade is working for him. But all this comes at a tremendous cost. No health insurance covers 100%. 20% adds up when you're dealing with medical costs that run up to six figures each year.
Making do is our mantra. My children are still young enough not to realize how much their parents skimp and move and adjust and tweak. And that's wonderful. They take pleasure in family traditions, occasional outings and luxuries, and the continuity of everyday life. I've found resources that make our budget happy while indulging them in their special pleasures. Thrift shops and estate sales, consignment shops and sales, homemade cooking and hand-crafted treats - put it all together, and we live darned well!
Making Do Pointer #1: Income isn't really disposable.
If you find a Goodwill Store in a very upscale area of town, check it out! I have searched elbow to elbow with women decked in couture and found designer jeans, Coldwater Creek, and Chico's in mint condition for myself, and the trendiest Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited Too, and N Kids outfits for my daughter. It seems disposable income equates to a disposable attitude about nearly-new fashions!
Making Do Pointer #2: Shop with purpose.
I can't stand keeping up with coupons. It's just too much work. Instead, I always work with a menu and a shopping list. I plan four meals a week, two of which have no meat, and try to limit my shopping to just one trip. I find that my costs stay much lower when I'm disciplined. Buying off the menu and spontaneously always costs more!
Making Do Pointer #3: Make your hobby self-funding.
The Shakers got it right. Take pleasure in hand craftsmanship. Utilitarian objects can also be aesthetically pleasing. Knitting is my indulgence as well as a source of income. It began when my son was hospitalized the first time. He went from tummy pains to full septic shock in a matter of months. A dear lady in my Bible Study handed me a pair of needles and yarn and showed me how to knit. I knitted my first prayer shawl in the ICU during ten days of critical condition and slowly improvement. I knitted my first handbag during the few months we were "back to normal." Then I knitted scarf after scarf, another shawl, a few more handbags, and more when he went critical again, perforating at the ileum and sustaining multiple surgeries.
I sold more than $500 worth of those handbags and scarves the first bazaar I tried - that was more than enough to pay for the yarn and add some to the kitty for future projects. Such "self-funding" takes the guilt out of something I love doing so much.
Making do. It's a GREAT thing!