Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roller Coaster of Emotions

It's been an emotionally charged week out here in the bush. Dave was given a job as principal at West Glacier Elementary and we were ecstatic for about 24 hours, until reality started creeping in. The first hurdle is that Dave needs to get his certifications transferred to Montana. The position demands that he gets an Admin license, which is not a problem, AND a K-8 license which might be a problem. We're still waiting to hear how this will pan out.
The second hurdle is money. This school pays below Montana standards, and wayyyy below comparable Alaska positions. Dave and I both have student loans totaling about $54,000. Mine we've been paying on, but his are just starting to come due since he finished his program. We also have our car loan. We also have our sweet baby girl, too young to enter pre-school and thus requiring me to stay home and care for her or for us to pay a baby sitter to care for her. The bottom line is that after we paid our loans and paid our insurance (which does not include vision or dental) we would have about $800 a month for housing, utilities, gas and food. We were pretty excited about buying a home, thinking that there was a program that helps teachers purchase homes on the cheap, but learned that even though our area should qualify, it doesn't qualify. Even with our excellent credit scores, the bank estimated a mortgage to be $800-875 a month, which is obviously not going to work. We looked for the cheapest rental place we could find, and while $600 a month was the average rate, we found one studio apartment for 475, not furnished and not including utilities. Estimating utilities to be $125 monthly and estimating that gas will be at least $100 a month, brings us to $700, leaving $100 a month for food and nothing left over for extras or unexpected expenses. Ironically, we make too much to qualify for government assistance.
One way to make this gig possible is for either or both Dave and I to go back to school and defer our student loans. Dave can pursue another degree from Western Governor's University online, and I could enroll in a LPN program at a community college that also has a childcare program. This gives us another $800 to work with, but puts us in the odd and uncomfortable position of accruing more debt to avoid paying on our current debt. If I worked a evening or weekend job for 20 hours a week at minimum wage, I could add around $600 a month to the picture, but it seems like full time school, parenting and a part time job would be really hard to juggle (assuming that I could find a part time job in this economy.)
On top of that, it might be possible to get our student loan payments reduced. We're looking into that possibility.
So what to do?
First, wait and see if the licensing will go smoothly.
If not, we will likely stay in this district another year where the pay is good but everything else is kind of sucks.
If so, we will start applying for programs and pinning down housing, to see if we really can make a go of this.
One kind of funny thing is that I have no idea what it costs to feed us for a month. Pretty much since I finished college 5 years ago, I've been living in unusual food situations. At Holden, food was provided, and out here, we purchase food in bulk and months in advance, but pay inflated bush prices and/or exorbitant shipping rates. I have no idea what a realistic monthly food budget is. Feel free to comment with your budget!

My crafty distraction of the week was to sew this skirt for Julia. It looks a little big for her, but I wanted it to fit her when she was a little older. It was super easy to follow this tutorial:
My mother-in-law sent some fabric odds and ends up with me, and this is one of those pieces. The cotton ribbon trimming was from a scandinavian store in Minnesota. It's a lovely pattern, and if you are in the market for a sewn gift for a young girl, give it a try!

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