Money Matters

I'm quite lucky in that my wife found a full time job recently that can support us both. For the nine years of our marriage, I've been the main bread winner and, up until two years ago when our first and only child was born (we're older parents - maybe twenty years too late), she made just a little money as a post-doctoral student. Two months ago, I left my job to move with her across country (for her new job) and we have no plans for me to go back to work in the next year or so. Indeed, the past 5 years have been very tough on me and almost a year ago I had to cut back hours and resign from my managerial position because I just didn't have the energy anymore and kept getting sick (colds, stomach things, etc) every few weeks. This was both from stress (mental fatigue) and physical fatigue from CMT.

My wife's job came just in time since I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold out. I have not gone on disability, yet... It's a big decision and I'm not entirely prepared to take that plunge just now. For the past couple months, I've been a stay at home dad, which is tough as well but my daughter is a more forgiving boss. ;-) I'll not get into the feelings of inadequacy and failure that comes to a middle aged male and recent parent who foresees the inability to work looming on the horizon. Rest assured, I'm having a lot of inner mental problems dealing with not being able to be "the provider" for the family. A male with a family, unable to work, is rarely seen in a positive light. This is tempered a little by the wonderful time I get to spend raising my daughter. But, as all parents know, even that isn't all roses...

So, if it isn't too intrusive, how do other CMTers make ends meet? Is anyone on disability? What do you do for insurance? I know how we're getting by but I don't know what others do and I'm trying to see what kind of solutions people have different than ours. Money matters. How do you bring home the bacon? What's your situation?

I am a 54 year old with cmt. I have been on disability for ten years. The insurance is Medicare $30 a month. Great insurance really. We don’t have a lot of money but live awesome by the grace of God! We have a side-line business and that helps and my wife babysits. Life is good!

Thanks Buck! I'm 42 so it sounds like disability is not out of the question. Some people told me I am too young. My Mom said I'd likely get it but she didn't claim until her mid-fifties.

Buck said:

I am a 54 year old with cmt. I have been on disability for ten years. The insurance is Medicare $30 a month. Great insurance really. We don't have a lot of money but live awesome by the grace of God! We have a side-line business and that helps and my wife babysits. Life is good!

Hi Chad,

I just want to let you know that I have the highest regard for the 'expanding man' as my favorite band Steely Dan refers to the stay at home Dads. Right now my granddaughter's husband takes care of the children, and is fantastic at it! He comes and helps my husband and I with chores and projects when he can, and that allows them extra money.

I salute your dedication to your daughter!

I have a car load of groceries that just came in the door with my husband, and my granddaughter's husband, they stepped up and did the shopping!

I adore you guys, so please know this! Time to get at the groceries!

Welcome back Chad, you have been missed!

Whatever you do, do not wait very long to check into disability. l have been out of the workforce for over 10 years and now and completely unable to dray disability due to some "points system" thing they have. l would have to go back to work for many years in order to even begin to think about it. But now l would be totally unable to do so.

l left the workforce due to wanting to spend my life with my disabled hubby. His VA and SS checks cover things pretty well, so l did not need an income.

Thank you for your commitment to the family. ~Tami

Hi Chad,

I too was hesitant to take the plunge into Disability, even though my neurologist recommended it about 5 years ago. I finally did, two years ago, and I'm so glad I did. I never realized just how much of a toll working full time was taking on me until I didn't do it anymore.

My husband works full time, so we have insurance through his employer.

Fortunately we have been extremely aggressive about saving for retirement. While my husband is still 7 years away from that, it is a feeling of security that we both appreciate.

Obviously, since I am no longer working I don't drive as much as I used to, thus gas expenses have been cut drastically. I no longer have to maintain a professional wardrobe which has saved money, as well.

I think the biggest factor that has made our transition into my collecting disability an easy one is the fact that we have zero debt. I know that not everyone is in the same situation but it makes living with the loss of my substantial income so much easier. I would advise anyone that is not debt free to make every attempt at paying off debt, little by little, as much as they can each month.

Shopping the sales at the grocery store can help, too. Rather than deciding what we feel like eating each week, we look at the sales flyers that come in the mail and plan the week's meals around what is on sale. We also purchased a freezer, and purchasing a half of a beef or hog can be an immense savings; we just filled our freezer with 200 pounds of roasts and hamburger for $1.80 per pound. We live in a rural area, so this also makes sense in terms of not having to drive to the store all of the time. But anybody can have a freezer and do what we did and we have probably cut the cost of hamburger in half, and the cost of roasts and steaks by 70-90%.

We have a large vegetable garden, and while our growing season is shorter (in Wisconsin) we dehydrate, freeze, or can a lot of our own vegetables. Canning jars can be found on craigslist.org for a fraction of what they cost new.

These are just the things that come to mind, since my disability income is a LOT less than I was making when I was working.

And perhaps the best strategy we have ever utilized is that if we can't pay cash, we don't buy it. We do have and use a credit card but we absolutely, unequivocally pay off the balance every month.

Writes-A-Lot

I am a 41 year old single mom and on SSI. I am raising two daughters on $733 a month. I cut corners and stay out of debt. I would advise you to go ahead and file because I waited, mainly relying on my spouse's income and not not wanting to admit to being DISABLED, I didn't have enough points to get anymore than minimum. Luckily , I got disability the first time. I believe that having a genetic test helped.

Chad you pose an issue that definitely takes a toll on us all unless born into a "silver spoon" family.

I fought the idea of disability for a while; it's a process to come to terms with. I am on disability now for 18 yrs, and got it after being denied once; The denial was not on my being disabled but rather not showing enough quarters of paying into the system; This being not because I had not worked but filed jointly with my husband for the many years we'd been married and self employed. At the recommendation of a lawyer, we amended the filing and assigned half the income earned all that time to me.I was approved and got back pay for the original time I had filed. In addition to the very small disability check, we do a bit of homestead living and have learned to make the $ spent count and learned to live without needing so much money. My husband retired at the time the building industry broke momentum, and we find we live just as well, and enjoy the time together. He retired mostly to be home and keep me supported emotionally and watch out for me "overdoing" b/c stress and my tenacity kept me falling and having more problems b/c I push myself too hard. We live frugally and the years we worked we did pay cash for everything so we do not have monthly bills other than electric phone insurance (minimal). We own our home, b/c we lived in it while building rather than mortgage and we lived in them and then sold and reinvested so it was part of our income we did not have to be taxed on. so, sweat equity got us debt free. We raise a few sheep and goats on our small farm; have chickens and our own milk and raise a small veggie garden. We go to the public library for movies, books and activities. We don't eat out much or go to theaters. We have a motorcycle we ride for "dates" and we have a boat to fish and live in "Ozarks where there is joy in nature, camping etc. We both spend lots of time reading, and using internet for our enjoyment. I sing on Fri. and Sat. night jams locally for entertainment and socializing.

Money does matter but its more what the money buys, and if you look around, you can find things than can give a good life without a lot of money. My daddy taught us "want what you get" and you'll always be happy. That perspective has sure helped me have a pretty nice life in spite of the challenges and difficulties. "It's not what you make, it's how you spend it" was philosophy my dear Father-in-law pointed out. But, we do have to be resourceful sometimes b/c face it this world is more about money not "what matters" LOL

We don't have health insurance but we do a lot of prevention for health as well as I have Medicare with disability, but its just more or less a "piece of mind" if something major were to put me in the hospital; We don't count on it for the general health care but don't go to doctors much; I do have extreme blood pressure issues but have a doctor who is good to help me with meds to keep it under control.

My husband is now on SS at age 63 so our income has increased a little now, and my youngest daughter pays me $200 every two weeks to babysit her daughter 11 hours a day 5 days a week. So, at least now I can use that funding to gift back to the kids and grand kids more than I used to be able to do which gives me joy and pleasure!

We too, had two children about 20 yrs too late but they sure have been a comfort to us in the older years. Now, grandchildren are part of the picture and again a joy and comfort. Our oldest daughter was an only child for 14 yrs, and now have the two youngers who are in early 20's so more to come! We do a lot of family cook outs etc. which contributes to our social life without too much spending! Over all we have a pretty blessed life and yet by the world's standards we don't have a lot! "Poor Folk" sometimes are the "happier" folk!

Recommend you take disability now as it will be based on the last ten yrs of your work; Also your daughter will get it until age 18 b/c of having a disabled parent which helped us a lot. I had 544 and both kids got 160 each. so many yrs I worked and was truly killing myself but age 40 they said I had to stop or be in a nursing home and having someone else raise my kids. The thing is, Chad, it's money you've earned and paid in; so it's not taking anything you haven't earned already and it will help your wife and your daughter. As for being a "stay at home" anyone working things at home and taking care of a child, does much more in many respects than a 9 to 5 job. Home managers are 24/7 plus! Don't allow yourself to down grade who you are and your worth by a darn paycheck ! I've learned with experiencing CMT to work Smarter rather than harder and just b/c you can doesn't mean you should. Access the benefits to the task before deciding to spend the energy is the way to be "ABLE" longer! ~~~CM

Bringing home the bacon doesn't count as much as if its cooked on time and shared with those you love

Thanks for all the well written responses! I appreciate the advice that everyone provided and the slice of life you've given me. I have a lot of decisions to make soon and I'm thankful that I have you folks as a sounding board!