budgeting · curriculum · homeschooling · stay home or not? · Uncategorized

One Paycheck Family: Walking a Thin Line

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Before I had children of my own, I had a somewhat (like totally and completely, actually) romantic vision of what raising them would be like. We wouldn’t need the fanciest things, the biggest house or the most modern car; we would just need EACH OTHER. As a stay-at-home mom, I imagined scrimping and sacrificing to make ends meet while my husband worked hard.

And, like….totally and completely loving it.

We decided, when my first son was born, I would stay home.  Having pretty conservative views towards child-rearing, I felt it was the right thing to do.   Stay at home, run the home and raise the littles.  I still believe those things.

But, guess what?   That means I quit my $70,000 a year job and the raises that came with upward mobility.

Now in the beginning that was cool. Me, being really a financially CLUELESS person (really clueless, people), I gladly tossed it into the wind to do something nobler – and I have not regretted it.

But me, like many, many of you moms (or dads) out there was not prepared for what raising children in the new millenia meant with only ONE PAYCHECK to keep us afloat.

The Washington Post, in 2017, tells us that it is in fact, more expensive to raise a child than ever. According to them, it costs about $13,000 a year. And the more money you have, the more you spend on them.

Now when I was holding that squirmy little boy, I didn’t want to put a price tag on his little bald head, but, in essence, now that he is a teenager, he is even MORE expensive! And you moms and dads of teens know what I am talking about (video games, shoes, clothes he constantly grows out of, etc.)

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$$ Homeschooling $$

We also homeschool.  Which I love (most days).

I have heard it said many, many times that homeschooling is as expensive as you want it to be. And while that is somewhat true, let’s be completely honest here. As your students age, the things that you want for them educationally tend to grow more expensive too.

My 13-year-old is no longer content cranking out some $8.99 workbooks and attending one co-op a week.  He loves to be around people, has an engineering brain that we want to nurture and need to learn Algebra (!).

So, while it is probably less expensive that public school (no uniforms, tuition, annual back to school shopping list, PTO, etc.), it has its own costs. (Can I get an Amen?)

My A-ha Moment

This year I had an a-ha moment. This is the “heart” (hard) part.

My husband tends to look forlorn sometimes, and for the hundredth time in a row, when I asked why he looked concerned, he said: our finances. He has always been so good at managing our finances I have rarely had to worry.  But, the last 6 months have seemed especially tough on him.

And I finally got it – we had slipped out of the habit of living as if we only had one paycheck.

I say “we,” I mean “me.”

You may not have the same approach to finances as we do and I respect that.  But my husband and I had a routine, an agreement, a “way” of doing things, and I had tossed it to the side because I got … bored? fearful? not content?  I am not really sure.

I had not been as frugal as I needed to be. I had been splurging a little too much.  I had not been denying myself as much as I should. I had been signing the kids up for events and making emotional purchases without really praying about it and running it by him as I had for so many years.

And we had hit a financial wall. Not a terrible, horrible one, but a pretty bad one.

And don’t get me wrong – it’s not ALL my fault.  I know that. I do bring in a teeny, tiny writing paycheck that covers some incidentals..but…

But, with my lack of discipline and only one-paycheck-thing, we are walking a very fine line.

As a stay-at-home parent, you feel the pressure as well? I just wanted you to know, you’re not alone!

 

 

 

 

 

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