Stocking Up For Summer Financially
Those of you who are teachers know -- summer is a glorious time. But it can also be a stressful time financially. Most teachers are 10 month employees. For the uninitiated, that means that our salary is spread out from September to June (or August to May or whenever your area of the country starts and stops), and those months of July and August (or June and July or whatever) are unpaid. Unless you teach summer school or summer programs, and even then by the time the payroll comes in it is the second month of summer into the school year. There are options for addressing this pay desert, and they differ by district. Some districts give you the option to receive your salary spread out along 12 months. My district is not one of these. We can either have our salary divided into 20 equal paychecks from September to June on the 15th and 30th (I really, really hate this new pay schedule, as sometimes it is well over 2 weeks between paychecks and payday could be a Friday, or a Wednesday, or any day, which is slightly unpredictable and makes for icky planning even though technically the checks are bigger, which also means more taxes taken out at once), or we can have 19 smaller paychecks and then a bigger paycheck for that 20th end-of-year one, that will ostensibly carry you through the summer. I don't do that option, because with all the health insurance for both of us and the Union dues and the retirement system (all wonderful benefits), my smaller check would stress me out. I would rather move money into a savings account myself throughout the year than have the district hang on to my money. Something I finally decided to do this year, but late in the game. The first stocking up strategy was to automatically transfer a nonstressful amount into a savings account with every paycheck, so I'd have a stash of cash for summer. Unfortunately my math was hideous, and so I've had to rely on the kindness of Bryce to cover the rest. I did make it into August though! Progress. Next year will be better (although next year hopefully I am on maternity leave into summer and maybe a wee tiddly bit into fall).
Besides money, I stocked up on nonperishable essentials. I decided this year that starting in April, when I still had my normal cash flow, I was going to stock up on toiletries and stuff that usually makes for expensive shopping trips in the summer. I would have loved to stock up on nonperishable food essentials like pasta, condiments, and rice, plus nonedible items like toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, etc, but our basement is an unholy disaster and we don't have the space yet to store such treasure. My dream is that soon we can rip out these ghastly, salmon-colored, poorly constructed cabinets that line two walls of our basement, somehow address the water issues in our basement (unlikely while we're receiving inches of rain per week), and set up nice heavy-duty open shelves for storing canned goods, dry goods, and toiletries. Alas, not this summer, but it's coming! The toiletries thing worked amazingly, though. We have these very deep (almost too deep to be useful) bathroom cabinets, and I filled them full of my shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioning treatment (a must for curly hair), leave in conditioner spray (do you sense a theme?), anti-frizz cream, moisturizers for body and face, eye cream, face wash, razors... a lot of things that tend to jack up the price of my summer runs to the grocery store or the red bullseye. That really, really helped this summer! Next year I will add sunscreen (we go through a lot, but that's a good thing) and vitamins/supplements to the list. I am ridiculously proud of myself for thinking ahead in this manner, because it makes me so happy to shop my cabinets. It's a relatively easy way to take some of the financial strain out of the summer.
Another bonus was that while we are effectively doing two cycles this summer, we've already paid the bulk of the monies. We chose the package deal at our clinic, and paid for everything but ultrasounds and medication up front. For the entire year. That includes the fresh cycle(s if you include the canceled disaster in April), the two frozens from that cycle, ANOTHER fresh cycle, and any frozens from that. We just have to finish it all by May, which is a little stressful as that doesn't actually seem that far away. The frozen medications cost between $100-200 depending on how much Lupron is needed, a far cry from the $3000+ for a fresh, but my FSA and some lovely medication donation action helped with that. The ultrasounds are covered by my insurance, which makes me feel incredibly lucky. A $15 copay every time we go in (a lot for the fresh, barely anything for the frozen) is a far cry from the $2200 I used to pay for a frozen. While it was stressful to drop all the cash in April, it is ABSOLUTELY LOVELY to know that there are no giant medical bills looming in the future. I sincerely hope we do not have to do another fresh cycle, because that will change that with the meds. But, thinking in the now, this frozen is basically paid for. And so is the hopefully unnecessary second frozen we have available.
Stocking Up for September
Another strategy over the summer that I'm proud of is stocking up to be ready for September. Someone once told me that her very wise mother never went in to get ready for school in the last week of August, that week before school. She went in earlier, got all her stuff done, and was able to have an ACTUAL WEEK OF VACATION, without any stress about "am I really ready? Am I good to go for September 2nd?" weighing her down. Seeing as how this last week is both my transfer and a trip to Vermont to visit with Bryce's dad and his wife, it would be a wonderful gift to myself to actually accomplish this. So far, I am in really good shape. I've gone in for between 3-6 hours for four days so far, and I've been dedicating oodles of time at home to organizing my units, planning out recurrent structures of my classes, and updating materials. I am going in ONE MORE TIME on Monday, and then I'm done. I may putter a bit next week at home with materials, but then after next Friday, I'm not even doing that. It is a freaking miracle that, for the most part, my classroom is all set up with my files for students and my copies for the first two weeks of school are pretty much done. My biggest goal has been to stock up on organizing my files and my materials in a way that works this year, so that I am not fighting the Paper Monster all year. I did a horrible job of this last year. I want to start the year organized and have everything easily accessible and even copied ahead of time, since I've been adjusting things all summer. My not-so-secret ulterior motivation for this is so that, when we are successful, I am all set for my maternity sub to come in. Everything is clear, everything is sequential, everything is ready for someone else to pick up and take off with it. And, should anything happen that would result in me going out early (bed rest, twins, not that I want to plan for those possibilities but it can't hurt to be prepared), I do not have to stress about it. I am so psyched. Now, can I keep this up throughout the year? THAT is going to be the challenge. But I have a better foundation than I've ever had.
Stocking Up on Hope
Lastly, I have been working on stocking up emotional reserves. Filling up my pot of hope. Taking very good care of myself so that I am feeling good about this transfer, and hopeful for the possibilities it brings. I am doing some training on myself to try to lessen the negativity that I (understandably) keep feeling, about everything. I have tried very hard this week to not say or think anything negative about my body. Maybe a joke here or there, but that's it. Such as at lunch with a very fitness-conscious friend who was asking about the whole gluten-free thing, and I said that obviously a lot of chocolate and ice cream and assorted goodies like that were gluten free while I did a Vanna move with my hand alongside my body, but that's kind of true. Gluten free (not by choice) does not necessarily a skinny person make. And, you know, there are lots of different bodies out there. Since puberty, mine has never been a super slender one, and that's ok. I am trying to embrace my womanliness, and channel a little more of Mindy Kaling self-confidence. Take my husband's complete and utter adoration of my curves as a pure compliment and not a sign that I'm looking fat. I slip up every once and a while, but overall I am doing pretty well with this attitude adjustment. I am also doing a better job of saying "when I go on maternity leave" and "when this works" and, within reason, planning on being pregnant. Not in a crazy way where I am setting myself up for a shattering (although that may not be possible to avoid in the unlikely event that this goes awry), but in a positive way, a hopeful way, a loose way. I am really good at holding tight to things, grasping onto possible outcomes so hard that a snap is inevitable. I am feeling positive, I am feeling looser, I am trying to fill myself with love before that scary period where I could be pregnant and where in the past I have rarely actually been. The past does not necessarily predict your future. It's not a bad idea to bolster up my reserves for a difficult time that could not be timed any worse. However, thanks to my stocking up on getting ready for school, I am totally ready for the time I will be preoccupied with what is hopefully happening inside my body. I do not have to worry about school so much. I am filling up on relaxation and nourishment and hoping that it will carry me through this next possibility for success, this beautiful new opportunity to become parents.
I don't feel like I am stocking up for disaster. I am preparing for the positive. I am doing work now to make this September the best ever, on every possible level. I am gearing up for a year that will be so much better than the last, with all the things that are within my control. I am slowly gaining traction in letting go of the things that are beyond my control, and embracing what is, right now. On what little and big things I can do to make this world a little kinder on me than it's been.
I can't resist ending with a picture of a giant tiger swallowtail that graced my enormous Joe Pye Weed plants that are now over seven feet tall. This butterfly somehow found my flowers, and then had a field day filling up on nectar, just flicking fuzzy pollen-drunk bumblebees off when they got too close and concentrating only on doing what was nourishing for it in that moment. It was just a beautiful sight, a beautiful reminder to concentrate on what's important and flick what annoys you off to the side. My mascots this summer seem to be insects!