Phlebotomist, 35, Omaha, Neb.
I am a single, working mom of two kids under the age of 8. I make $13 an hour as a phlebotomist and pay $500 per month in daycare alone. Making ends meet before was difficult, but it is nearly impossible now, and I lose a lot of sleep over it. I have made major changes at our household to cut expenses. Nothing has been unaffected. I drive a lot less. Once I am home from work we stay home, unless we walk or bike. We don't go out to eat. At first we replaced going out to eat with buying dinner from the deli at our supermarket, but we have cut that too. We buy generic everything, and I do stock up, if I can, when things are on sale. Some groceries we have had to cut down on or even eliminate. We used to buy, and eat, a lot of fresh produce such as apples and oranges. My kids love cheese sticks and shredded cheese, but the cost has nearly doubled over the last year.I am planting a garden this year. We are fishing too, not necessarily because we are that desperate, yet, but because it is inexpensive family entertainment. We used to catch and release, but we are eating what we catch now. Most of my friends are in the same, or worse, situation. When groceries run low we have potluck dinners.Summer is here and my daycare bill will double because my school age daughter will be in daycare too. I honestly have no idea how I will be covering this cost. I cannot work another job because my daycare will cost even more. NEXT: Charles Karriker: Retirement interrupted