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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can You Afford to Be a One Income Family?

One thing that I learned this month during my challenge is that we can do without a lot of what we typically buy. Had we cut out fast food completely and trimmed down the grocery bill even more, there is no doubt that we really would have come in at under $1,200.

Which brings me to another topic that involves money and cutting back: being a stay-at-home mom. I don't stay-at-home because I'm living the life of luxury and my husband makes boat loads of cash. I'm able to stay at home because we make a lot of sacrifices in order for me to do so.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against working mothers. If a woman gets fulfillment from her career or enjoys her job and wants to continue to work while being a mother, that's fine. And I know that there are single women who have to work because there is no choice. Even married couples have to have two incomes in certain instances.

But what gets me, and my husband, is women who moan and complain about their jobs and how they wish they could be at home with their children but that they can't afford it. And then they leave work, get into their brand new fancy SUV, drive to their $80 hair appointment, stop and pick up take out, pick up their children from daycare and drive them to one of their many activities, arrive home to their McMansion, and plan their Disney World vacation while watching their $100 a month cable. This scenario sounds silly but it is all too common.

The majority of women who say to me or my husband that they wish they could stay at home but can't afford it tend to live a lifestyle similar to above. And their husbands tend to make at least double, if not triple or quadruple, what my husband makes. These women are not working because they couldn't afford to stay home, these women are working to maintain their lifestyle. Which is fine with me...if someone thinks trading 40 hours of their time each week to have an SUV, vacations, etc. is worth it that is okay. But to complain about how they wish they could be at home with their children but just can't afford it to someone who lives on 1/4 of their income and does stay at home is foolish.

These types of women could afford to stay-at-home if they really wanted to. Buying a used car with cash, downsizing from their Mcmansion to a regular house, taking their kids out of daycare, not paying $80 for hair appointments, not taking an expensive vacation each year, cooking at home instead of getting takeout several times a week, shopping for clothes at thrift stores and garage sales. All those tips may actually equal what they make a year. In reality, it's not that they can't afford it, they just choose not to. So they are either lying to people like me when they say they wish they could or they are lying to themselves when they say that they can't.

There have been several studies of women who work on, I think it was, $10 an hour or less. These studies have looked at daycare costs for the children, the added expense of clothing and car costs for the job, the extra taxes, the added expense of take out more often due to the working mother being over-tired, etc. When all was said and done and subtracted, it was said that the woman realistically just made about $3,000 a year working 40 hours a week. In many instances, a woman is able to save more money by being at home then she is able to make working 40 hours a week.

This challenge has taught me to never say I can't when it comes to money. If we can manage to almost scrape by on $1,200 a month then couldn't we comfortably live on $1,400 a month and put the rest in savings. It is teaching me that even a family on a low income doesn't have to live paycheck to paycheck. And it is definitely teaching me that the American way of thinking about money is ridiculous. We are taught to consume as much as possible and work all week at a job we hate in order to afford that brand new car and McMansion that we are never at home to enjoy. Isn't there more to life then stuff?


  1. You were right in your last comment- this working Mom doesn't describe me at all! I think I would feel a little guilty staying at home knowing that a huge chunk of our debt is from my student loans though- I mean, why did I go to school if I'm not even going to work long enough to pay that off- KWIM? Who knows what we'll decide. It would make a lot more sense to stay at home now while the boys are little than once they are in school. Our cars are both paid off, we rent a duplex, we do eat out fairly regularly (but that usually goes up when I'm pregnant) but I have to say- all extras are pretty much gone from the budget. No hair appointments or manicures, no trips to the mall unless it's for something specific like shoes for the boys and we have a nanny who works part time (way cheaper than daycare) which would obviously be an expense that would go away if i stayed at home. We've got 16 weeks to figure this out. We'll see.

  2. Well said!! Excellent post! I think we were on the same track, because I was feeling sort of similarly yesterday when I posted. We sacrifice so that I can stay home, we cut things, we don't text or use the computer on our cell phones, we don't even have a DVR. We would rather save the money, live within our means, not have any debt besides the mortgage. And be here for our kids.

  3. Well I just quit a job that I could no longer stand to stay at home with my 9 year old son. We never did live a lavish lifestyle, my husband just thought that by having me work too, that things would be better. He got caught up in that whole 'Both people have to work or you can't make it facade'. Well I am happy to report that after being home for the last 3 months, that my husband and son are way happier and we are not suffering financially in the least. I no loger have to pay daycare, our cars are paid off, I am able to cook 99% of the time, and I am able to do things during the week that we used to have to try to cram in on the weekends. Our quality of life is awesome. I am stress free since I don't have to deal with stupid work drama, my home is now clean and organized, the laundry is always done and put away, and if my son needs me at school, or has to stay home sick I can always be there for him! I can once again do my coupon and best sale shopping and man is my pantry stocked up again! My husband and I LOVE thrift stores, swap meets, and yard sales and always get great deals. I have always loved staying home and being able to take care of my family and now my husband finally sees the value in me not working- society be damned lol. We actually have more money now. Go figure... LOL Now my mother is a different story entrirely-she says that I should be working. Then again my mother is not happy unless she is shopping somewhere. :) Sorry to ramble on so long, but I loved your topic today! I thank GOD everyday that I am able to do what I do now. I LOVE my job! - Rose

  4. Love your post. I'm blessed to have it all. I've managed to cut down to 10 hours a week (1 night and Sat morning) (i'm the hairdresser that get's your $80 haha) and I only work when my husband is home to watch my 2 girls (2yr old and 5 month old- he rocks!) I LOVE it- we get enough money to do a few extras- I love my job and the flexibility- and I still get to be a SAHM. Sometimes you just have to find what works for you! ;-)

  5. This was a great post! When I tell people I stay at home, the response is almost always a snarky, "Must be nice!" Well, it IS nice but we sacrifice in order for me to be home. Everything I want to say is everything you just said. Well put! Next up---a snappy comeback for the inevitable question: "What do you do all day?"

  6. I have always been a SAHM plus we homeschool. Women make negative comments as you mention to me often. I always say, if we can do it anyone can. I believe that being a SAHM is ordained and blessed my God in a special way. He will always see that we have what we need when we do his will.

  7. You are so right woman. I work because I like the time away from my kids, I like stuff, and having my hair done! Having confessed that; I do have to because my job provides us with kickass insurance for our family of four. I bow to you and your tight budget. I will never tell my husband how good a person can be at it because I am not.

  8. LOVE this post. I might even quote you on some of it! :o)

  9. I'm a stay at home mum. By choice. My maternity leave came to an end and I decided not to go back to work. My daughter is now nearly 9 months old.
    Money is tight, we don't go out much, but the joy we have from me being at home overrides all of that. I'm so glad that I can be at home to see my daughter growing up.

  10. I want to be a SAHM (and soon, homeschooling, I hope) more than anything I've ever wanted. I worked part time for two years, but we struggled financially. I am now full time again (my husband and I make about $78,000 together before taxes) but our daycare is extremely expensive, I hate my job, and I spend all my spare time googling ways to cut to one income. We rent, we do not have car payments, we rarely go out to eat and never shop. The only thing is, we try to save about $1000 a month in a savings account. Problem is, if we don't do that, we'll NEVER get ahead, never be able to buy a house, will always be stressed about money. I don't know what else to do. I feel like my babies are growing so quickly, and my chance to be a SAHM, what I want more than anything in the world, is going to pass me by and then it'll be too late.



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