How 1 Conversation Saved Us $7,200

I spent a lot of time looking into daycare and preschool costs for our youngest kid in the house, our nephew who turned four back in May.  Even though we are his legal guardian, and not a parent, our income is still counted for daycare assistance from the state and for percent of FPL guidelines for head start and other programs.  With head start and child care assistance looking to be out of reach we signed up for a local preschool program that cost $180 per week.   Across 40 weeks for the school year the total cost was going to be $7,200. I wrote previously about how there is a massive divide between preschool costs, it’s either free or extremely expensive.

Applying For State Assistance:

We found the state of Michigan guidelines for daycare assistance online, which are confusing as hell. Using their table it looked like we qualified for assistance, which would limit our cost to $90 every other week, cutting 3/4 of the cost off our daycare bill.  This would have been amazing.  Well…Mrs. C. applied for their assistance after being advised to do so by the daycare provider.  About a week later they called us to verify that we had less than a million in assets and to ask more in depth questions about our income.  My income fluctuates wildly, so this was a long conversation. They would not average my income out over the year and basically in the months I am working I make to much for assistance and when I’m not working I should be watching him, instead of him being in daycare. Fair enough, but I still think they should look at yearly income rather than monthly.  Anyways, this option was a no go and we decided we would still go through with this program and pay the full $180 per week.

How 1 Conversation Saved Us $7,200

Mrs. C. was talking to one of the other moms in our sons cub scout program, and she recommended a full day preschool program for four year olds that she used in Benton Harbor. Mrs. C. went to talk to them and was able to get a spot for our nephew. Our youngest now goes to school 4 days per week, which allows Mrs. C. to work 4 days per week while I am working and potentially 5 days when I am off work.  Our youngest will have extra help in getting ready for Kindergarten and will hopefully be able to skip the “young 5s” class, potentially allowing him to graduate from high school 1 year sooner.

Because Mrs. C. was having an open conversation about our problem with someone else we were able to find a solution that we hadn’t known about before, despite conducting thorough research.  That small conversation which lasted only a few minutes saved us $7,200.

How I Conversation Made My Career:

When I was working at KFC we had a building at the county fair that we sold chicken out of. Every year they chose 1 person to drive the chicken van to transport chicken from actual restaurant to our fair building.  This individual got to work 16 hour shifts for 6 days, which when you are working for minimum wage and rarely get overtime is a huge deal.  In 2005 I was in this role.

While at the fair I called my mom to let her know I wouldn’t be stopping by her house in the next week and explained the hours I was working. While I was talking to her one of the project managers for the ice crew overheard our conversation and when she was off the phone he asked her who was working 90 hours a week?  She explained my situation to him and he told her that I should check out the job fair that the contract company has for staffing his project the following spring.  They typically hire 40 – 60 people new to nuclear at a time and pay $14 per hour starting out and working 60 to 72 hours per week.

I almost didn’t go.  I felt grossly under qualified. When I showed up the place was packed with dozens of people and I thought for sure I wouldn’t get hired.  A few days later I received a call saying I was hired, I’ve worked for that company ever since.


The moral of the story? Talk to people.  Even if you aren’t asking someone for help, just talking about your situation someone else may be able to help you in a way you never though of. People like to help others, and there is no possible way to be as knowledgeable as every person you meet, even with the assistance of the internet.

Has there ever been a time you thought you looked at all the options available and someone else was able to help you?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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