Please tell me how can anyone get ahead in this world, financially that is? I should rephrase: how can an average person with children get ahead in this world? I sit here pondering that question while staring at the Orthodontic Invoice for my fifth-grader’s teeth! Three Orthodontic consultations later, and I am left facing a very grim truth; having to pocket out $5,000 worth of braces. Yes, I know I am not the only parent out there having to face this outrageous cost. But here is my question to all of you out there: How the hell do you do it? Just when I think we are doing well, getting ahead, saving for our future, retirement, and our children’s college education, and when I say college education I am talking about Saddleback Junior College down the street… boom, something happens and I am writing checks… Forget my son’s Bar-Mitzvah money in two years, I am about to start asking for donations for his braces! Do I start pulling money out of their college funds just to pay for braces? Do I send the 11-year-old to work, make him earn his braces? That doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me… Problem with that is that I am the weak parent, I am a softy when I see their cute, sad little faces, guilt sets in and I end up giving in. Most likely I will be the one sitting at the drive-through in McDonald’s window asking if you want fries with that burger, because my kid was too tired to go to work… Or maybe I could start selling their Bakugans, DSI’s, PSP’s, Ipods, and other mindless entertainment toys on Ebay… Can you pawn children on Ebay, and come back for them when the braces are paid off? No? That’s too bad. In all seriousness, how do you parents do it? Between all the usual expenses, extra-curricular activities, sports, various lessons, memberships to the Temple, Hebrew school, teacher gifts, donations to the school every other month, class trips and parties, not to mention putting food and clothes on their backs, how the hell are people supposed to just LIVE? Yes, I know America runs on Loans, but isn’t there something wrong with that? Europeans know the true way to live, without all the tangible possessions, credit cards and loans that they can’t afford to pay back, but its virtually impossible to implement that thinking into our society. How can an average parent strive to live on bare minimum, teach the kids that physical possessions are not important in life while the neighbor’s kid is getting showered with a boatload of unnecessary garbage called toys? We all try, but usually are overcome with guilt, and I speak for myself here, give in and buy yet another Power Ranger or some other piece of crap… As I go looking for answers, which really means yelling at my insurance company for not covering more on the cost of braces, I would love to hear from my readers on how you balance it all out!