Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making it work

A lot of people would love to spend more time with their children or just not have to work in general, so that they can devote their time to other things.  And the truth of the matter is that if you are married and your spouse has a job, you can make it work, but you have to be willing to do just that, make it work. 

Joel and I have been on one income for the past nine years, and guess what, we do not own our own home, we have one vehicle and we still make conscious decisions about every article of clothing that comes into the house.  The food side has laxed up a bit, but I think that was probably a much needed change.  Here are my tips in regards to making it work.  Or I guess I should say, this is how we made it work, because staying home will look different for every household.  Here's the encouragement, we did it on less than 20k a year with a child, student loans, consumer debt out the wazoo and pets, so you can, too.

Tip 1: You can do without a lot of stuff that you currently need.  We have had many spans of time without cable, in fact we don't have it right now, not because we can't afford it, but because we don't really have time to make it a worthwhile expense.  And get this, you can have cable turned on for just a month if you don't do the package plans.  We used to have a second car, but it just started to sit in the garage more and more often, so we got rid of it six years ago and we have only just started discussing getting a new one for convenience more so than need.  Professional services are some of the things we found we don't need.  I get compliments on my toes all through out the summer and have never had a professional pedicure, practice and stunning colors make perfect ;-)  Joel and I still cut each other's hair, even though I have paid almost a hundred dollars on a regular basis to get mine cut before.  Because Joel is personally invested in looking at me, he has given me some of the best haircuts I've ever had.

Tip 2: You can save tons of money at the grocery store, if you start shopping at home.  Almost everything has a sale cycle at the grocery store, learn what it is and stock up.  Milk used to go on sale when we were on our tightest budget and we would buy it, freeze it.  After defrosting it, we would mix it with powdered milk after drinking the first half gallon to make it last longer.  We would also buy shredded cheese and freeze it.  And I don't think we had fresh vegetables that entire time, but instead ate frozen veggies that would go on sale.  We also used Angel Food Ministries to provide our meat during those days. 
I still save money by making a grocery list and buying meat in bulk when it's on sale. 

Tip 3: It doesn't do you any good to ask your husband for more money.  If he loves you, which I assume he does if he married you, then he is going to do his best to meet your every need and the needs of your children.  Love on him and tell him how thankful you are that he provides for you, even if that provision is beans and rice.  I would also let your husband handle all the financial aspects of your household if he is the one making the money, that way, you do not have the stress of bill time and can be even more grateful of all that he does for the family.  If you are concerned that you won't have any electricity because he isn't good at stuff like that, it won't hurt you to be in the dark for a short while in order for him to learn how to do it.  A side tip if you are used to controlling the money and are afraid of giving up some freedom, make sure that your husband knows what your financial needs are so that he can have them when you need them.

Tip 4:  Do not, if any way possible, compare yourself to the Jones family.  You have no idea how much debt they are in, or if they even share the same bed at night.  Make your house a home and be glad in it, because it's what you got.

Tip 5: Accept offers.  If someone offers to take you somewhere, watch your children, give you some groceries, fold your laundry, say "Yes!"  If you are used to the corporate world, staying at home is a much more solitary adventure.  You have to be willing to take companionship and hospitality in most every form if you have a need for that kind of contact.  None of us do this stay at home gig very well, so if we offer to do something with or for you, by all means accept, because we're trying to make friends.

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