THE RISING COST OF EVERYTHING: Cheyenne High School Coach and His Family Struggle Amid Increased Prices

Working upwards of 60 hours a week still only provides family with “just better than paycheck to paycheck”

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CHEYENNE, Wyo.—Sean Wilde holds down five jobs to make ends meet. At Cheyenne Central High School, he is the head coach of the cross country and track teams, as well as assistant coach of the indoor track team. He also works as a junior stylist at Sierra Trading Post and as a massage therapist.

Sean Wilde earns a steady income as a coach of three sports at Cheyenne Central High School, but it’s still not enough to support his family in this era of record-high inflation. (Courtesy photo from Sean Wilde)

It’s not easy for this 34-year-old father of two. But it’s necessary when inflation is at a 40-year high, and there seems to be no end in sight for soaring prices at the gas station, grocery store and daycare center. 

“We are doing just better than [living] paycheck to paycheck,” said Wilde, who has won eight state titles as a head coach. “We have some discretionary funds, but not a whole lot.” 

In any given week, the Wildes spend $50 on gas, up from $20 a year ago. Their monthly grocery bill went from about $30 to $120 per week, partially due to the cost of milk and eggs.

Wilde and his wife, Maya, a 33-year-old social worker, try to save money by sharing the duty of driving their kids to school and daycare. Maya’s car is older and gets less mileage, so she takes their 6-year-old daughter to elementary school; Wilde drops off and picks up their 4-year-old son from daycare, which is a greater distance from their house and workplaces.

Money was tight even before inflation spiraled, which prompted Wilde to attempt to open a massage therapy clinic to boost his income. This required him to invest several thousand dollars in professional training, certification and licensure.

“I didn’t have enough money to get a location, so I had to drive to my customers,” said Wilde, acknowledging that he is still working to build his client base.  

Back at home, costs keep piling up. 

Wilde works upwards of 60 hours per week to provide for his family. He sometimes feels guilty that he’s not making enough—and that guilt keeps him awake at night.

Sean Wilde and his wife, Maya, keep entertainment costs down by purchasing simple plastic toys for their two young children. (Courtesy photo from Sean Wilde)

“It’s hard looking at your kids, wanting to just give them the world and knowing that you can’t even come close to affording a little piece of the world,” he said.

And it’s not easy for him to tell his children that some toys are too expensive. Typically, the Wildes buy simple plastic toys—rather than ones that light up or make sounds—and they try to find them on sale for $5 each.

Another added expense: weekly speech therapy for Wilde’s 4-year-old son, who suffers from Apraxia of speech and communicates through sounds, not words. Wilde’s insurance doesn’t cover the private $65 speech therapy sessions. But the Stride Learning Center in Cheyenne provides additional speech therapy at the daycare center and subsidizes the monthly daycare tuition by $260 per month, lowering the family’s daycare bill to $540.

Prices also have also impacted the couple’s monthly date nights. Instead of making the 45-minute drive to Fort Collins, Colo., for a $150 dinner at  The Melting Pot or Rodizio Grill, “if we’re even able to scrounge up enough money,” Wilde said, they choose a restaurant closer to home in Cheyenne to save money on gas.  

Despite the family’s financial squeeze, Wilde is trying to stay optimistic and maintain his sense of humor.

“I’ve eaten more questionable leftovers than I probably should have,” he said, chuckling.

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