Without predictable income from Lori’s job, it's certainly an understatement to say that managing expenses becomes even more critical. But I do not want my ongoing discussions with Lori to focus on what is missing -- not only is it depressing, but I don’t believe it is particularly useful. Lori's expenses are already pared to a minimum, and while we could (and did) discuss a couple of expenses that could be further reduced, the $50/month in savings will not materially change her situation.
I believe the greatest risk Lori faces right now is becoming discouraged, losing focus, and not having the energy to be there for her kids and for herself. So, I am focusing our attention and activities on shorter-term objectives aimed at getting us through these next couple of months. By then, we'll find out if Lori is accepted into the program and what combination of loans/grants/work-study will be available. Lori has agreed to complete her school application by the end of November, but since we are one week into November and it is not yet done, I'm concerned. If it slips another couple weeks, there is a chance she will miss the cut-off for the next session. We've set a deadline for having the application completed: Nov 12. This will allow the decision regarding school to be made before the end of the year.
Lori is also continuing to look for work, and if school becomes a reality there will undoubtedly be new networking and employment opportunities through her masters program contacts.
Lori also expressed some concern about the monthly money she began setting aside for her to use as she wanted. We agreed that reducing it made sense -- from $50 to $30 each month -- but I encouraged her to continue to spend this small amount, even now. This modest expense is an antidote to any negative effects from the many other tough budget realities Lori is facing every day.