Money – Never enough of it.

Living paycheck to paycheck… The endless cycle.

If you are a LEO wife, you are aware of the fact that our spouses don’t get paid enough to do “what they do”.  In some cities, the starting yearly salary for some law enforcement officers is as low as $25,000 per year!  Subtract from that $25,000 monthly dues to a union or another association/organization, taxes, and health insurance, some of these officers bring home below minimum wage income.  You can do the math if you want; I’m not exactly a fan of it 😉

Now, lets take my life as an example.  My husband does get paid a descent amount.  He’s at a higher rank and has around 20 years of experience under his belt.  That being said, his yearly salary isn’t enough to provide a lavish living for all five of us!  I’m a stay at home mom with two children of my own and he has a son that lives with us 50+% of the time.  They are 11, 14 & 15 and they eat EVERYTHING!!!!  They also have expensive tastes and want everything advertised!

So, how do we manage to survive? I’ll go ahead and tell you that we DO NOT receive government assistance!  I’ve tried!  Go ahead and think bad of me if you want, but when you are trying to feed a family of five and paying bills from one salary, you do what you can to get some help. (BTW there’s a reason I’m a stay at home mom right now and it’s not because I want to be but that’ll be discussed in another post) We survive by cutting costs, budgeting, and planning.

CUTTING COSTS

Cutting costs seems really easy but it takes time to see the difference.  For example, when I first started being a stay at home mom it cut back on the amount of gas I was using.  I drove an average of 75 miles per day and spent around $50.00 in gas per week.  Once I wasn’t driving as much (around 0-25 miles per day), I only spent around $15.00 or less in gas per week.  That’s a $35.00 per week difference or a savings of $140.00 or more per month.

Now, I did start saving about $140.00 a month in gas, but I was home all of the time and the kids were out of school for the summer so I probably only saved around $40/mo from June-August 2016.

Some people choose to cut off the cable, get rid of land line phones, etc.  I’ll be posting about “Ways to Cut your Costs” in a follow up post so make sure you follow me.

BUDGETING

One thing that I have the worst time sticking with is a budget! No matter what I do or how I plan, there is always something unexpected.  A last minute birthday invite, a doctors visit, a family get together, even a last minute emergency trip has popped up. But, I still try to maintain my budget and some months I’m under budget but I’m guilty of spending that extra money….  I’ll be posting some “Budget Ideas” in a follow up as well.

PLANNING

I try to plan ahead.  I know that kids are out of school certain days/weeks ahead of time and I try to budget in a little extra money those weeks.  During spring break this year, we took a day trip to the beach.  It cost us gas money and food money but it was worth it! ($40 day trip) Summer is probably when we blow the most money because the kids are home and they think money grows on trees.  They know the convenience store clerks by name and are constantly going down there for snacks or drinks.  This expense has kicked our butts these past few weeks so it’s going to be part of our “cutting back/budget” plan!  I’ll be writing a few more “Planning Tips” following this post.

So, this is my life of living paycheck to paycheck.  As I type this post we have around $200 to last us to next Thursday.  I still have to buy groceries for next week but between coupons, flyers, etc. I’m going to attempt to budget my groceries at less than $75.00.  I’ll probably put about $20 in my gas tank and that will all hold us over until Thursday.  Check back in as I update my progress and wish me luck!  I think my kids are bottom less pits so I’m praying they won’t eat EVERYTHING! 🙂

When it happens too close to home….

Today, I want to talk about two men I knew, Sgt. Patrick Sondron & Deputy Daryl Smallwood, and how this loss has changed everything for me this week.

Sunday night, my husband called me to tell my there was an active shooter in Byron, GA and that he may have to go “up there”.  Of course, I immediately jumped on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. to figure out what was going on.  Little did I know within 2 hours my life would be turned upside down.

It took less than an hour for my husband to find out who the victims were.  Byron, GA is around an hour north of where we live and we both know people who work at the police department and sheriff’s office but little did we realize we knew one deputy very well.   Daryl Smallwood was a friend of my husband’s and I’ve known him since childhood.  We both thought he still worked at the Crisp County S.O. so it was a total shock to find out he was one of the Peach Co. deputies.  The moment my husband told me I felt my stomach drop and my heart literally break.  I cried at the loss of a man who would have done anything for anyone.  I cried at the loss of a man I’d known and ran into here and there since he’d gone into law enforcement and still even now as I type I cry.  Why? Because he had been shot for absolutely no reason at all.  Because he had children.  Because I knew him.  Because this happened so close to home.  Because I see Officer Down Memorials on a daily basis and IT SHOULD NOT BE SOMEONE I KNOW!!! Because if it happened to him….

I spent Sunday night crying almost constantly, by Monday I was crying every 15 minutes until finally every few hours.  I think I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.  To make it harder, my husband went into “cop mode”.   He wouldn’t talk and he looked void of emotion.  Then, Monday night I completely lost it on him.  I knew he hurt too and he probably felt the “if it happened to him…” feeling but dammit, I was terrified, hurt, upset, everything, and had not one person to lean on the way I felt my husband had.  To add to the fear, Sunday night my husband was on night shift.  I lay in bed crying and praying he would come home at 6 a.m.  What pissed me off was the fact that while he was out patrolling, he didn’t have to worry about me getting shot for no reason.  While he talked to multiple cop friends about it all, I laid in bed, alone, and dealt with it.  I texted him how I felt (for us, this is our best communication method when we don’t know what to say and are avoiding an argument).  This got me an “I’m Sorry” but I told him I didn’t need an apology, I needed him.

Now, it’s Friday…  Yesterday, my husband and I barely spoke.  I’m worn out, can’t sleep (he worked the past two nights), stressed the hell out, and I’m just lost.  Yesterday services were held for Sgt. Sondron and tomorrow they will be held for Dep. Smallwood.  I’ve been married now for two weeks to my cop hero and lost a friend in the line of duty.  My first post for The LEO WIFE LIFE is called Veteran Cop / Rookie Wife and today I feel like a rookie wife more than ever.

So, that’s my rambling 2nd blog post for The LEO Wife Life.  I can’t even proofread at the moment due to tears so I will do that later today.
To all the LEO spouses, children, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and entire families: This is a HARD life but we must support these men and women.  They need us as much as the America needs them. This may not be my best post ever but I’d like to dedicate it to Daryl Smallwood & Patrick Sondron.  My prayers go out to their families and their LEO families.  Gone but never forgotten.

Read the initial story November 6, 2016 and updated story November 8, 2016.

c_smallwood
Deputy Daryl Smallwood
sergeant-patrick-sondron
Sgt. Patrick Scondron

Sources:
Officer Down Memorial Page
The Telegraph
13WMAZ News

Visit the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund
GA Sheriffs Youth Ranch


Veteran Cop / Rookie Wife

  1. I suppose the term “rookie wife” applies to me because we officially said “I do” October 28, 2016.
  2. He IS a “veteran cop” with 20 years of experience.  He has a $h!t load of pins, including the 20 Years of Service pin, to prove it.
  3. Personally, I don’t think I technically fall under the “rookie” category and here’s why:

I’ve known my LEO hubby since I was 15 years old.  Back then, he was a “trouble maker”, “bad boy”, etc.  I never imagined he would be a cop one day (nor did I think I’d ever give him the time of day LOL)

In 2013, we started texting back and forth.  I knew him from work (I worked for a prosecuting attorney) and we were both in the beginning stages of divorce.  He lived and worked in the county I wanted to move too so I would ask him about certain location (safe/not safe) or his opinions on the schools and so forth.

That fall, I moved to a great apartment complex which happened to be across the road from the apartment complex he’d moved into.  Over that summer, during our life changes and challenges of divorcing when you have children, I had come to rely on him so much.  He had quickly become my best friend and my shoulder to cry on and I had in turn become his best friend and person to vent to.

Because we had children close in age, we began spending our weekends hanging out.  I wanted my children to “know” someone locally and he wanted his child to have other kids his age to “hang out with” who understood what it felt like to be in his shoes (divorce is hard on any child).  We spent time with his fellow deputies that also had children and by Christmas that year I think everyone pretty much had an idea we were dating or at least we should’ve been.

So, skip forward to October of 2014….  We started discussing living together to save money on bills.  After approving it with all three children and them happily agreeing, we moved in together in January of 2015.  The following months were rough, I’ll admit that.  We had to get used to each other in the same apartment.  I had to get used to LEO gear being EVERYWHERE!!! Then I found out my grandfather had cancer at the age of 94 and only a few short months to live.  By the end of July, my LEO was my rock.  He was always there for me no matter what.  If he was out on a call and I texted him I was falling apart… He was headed to comfort me before the next call came in.  I don’t know what I would’ve done without him so when he proposed not long after the death of my grandfather, I said “YES”! *Note: he proposed to me every month from January 2014-August 2015 and I always said “I’m not ready yet” so me finally saying yes was a pretty big deal.  Also, prior to me saying “yes”, he’d never presented a ring to me LOL

I began planning our wedding and had hoped to marry in February of 2016 but then in January, all hell broke loose.  I’m not going to go into detail in this post but long story short I almost lost my LEO forever.  Luckily, by nothing short of a miracle, we made it through that horrific ordeal.  It’s taken many months for me to claim the title of LEO WIFE but finally….

Now some of you will say it still makes me a rookie wife… So here’s the difference:  July 2016 when the officers in Dallas and the officers in Baton Rouge were shot/ambushed, I had to push away any fears I had, put on my big girl panties, and reach out to all the wives on his shift.  My hubby is a supervisor so I’m very familiar with the deputies under him, above him and their wives and children.  I was dating my LEO when the Ferguson riots began so I knew how everyone one of us felt especially since this was worse than Ferguson.  These were cops being shot simply because of their jobs only.  They were innocent.

All of this happened while I was in a completely different state on vacation.  I talked to my fellow LEO wives, fiances, and girlfriends via text, phone, Facebook, Facebook chat.  I checked on them daily while our men were out on the road and I heard them cry.  I wanted to fall apart as well but “veteran wives” do not fall apart.  This is why I don’t consider myself a rookie.

I’d love to hear from you.  Are you a rookie wife or a veteran wife?

More to come ~ The LEO Wife Life (CH)