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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How Many Clothes Do You Really Need?

Friends of mine were laughing at this post put up by Muddled Up Mommy.

Some reactions were astonishment, others were totally in agreement.  What do you think?

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In our house, laundry is on-going.  There is always a basket going into the washer and a basket that needs to be put away.  And we still end up with no clean pajamas in the evening!

I am beginning to think we have too many clothes actually.  Just TOO MANY OPTIONS.

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So what’s a mom to do? Research of course!

How much laundry do we really need?

Living on a Dime has taken the time to figure it all out: How Many Clothes Do I Need?

If you’re a stay at home mom, Laura at This Felicitous Life has come up with a list of her own.

Let’s talk about kids.  They grow so fast that it seems like you always have to have clothes in reserve just in case!

Keeper of the Home lays out (pardon the pun) her kids clothes and describes what they have and what they don’t really need: How Many Clothes Do Kids Really Need?

Actual Mom describes her large family’s wardrobe need in her piece: How Many Clothes Do my Kids Really Need?

The Purposeful Mom conducted a laundry experiment.  You will want to read all about it here.

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Let’s face it, in America, we have so much stuff, in general. Clothes are cheap and made cheaply and it’s therefore no surprise we are drowning in laundry which costs us money in water, soap and WASTED TIME (the most important thing!)

  • Jenny

 

 

Moving along…

Happy New Year! The big blizzard came through a few days ago…Brrrr.
Well first of all I want to say thank you to those of you who are following this blog and for the encouraging comments. It is very helpful and appreciated!
In recent weeks, I have been discussing the issue of staying home with a few friends and my family, and I am pleased to say, just talking about it has been of great help. A talk especially with my parents put me on the right path and provided me with the hope of staying home that had been eluding me for months. Being a spiritual person, I feel God has a plan for my life and that every decision I make (especially big ones) I want to seek much advice and counsel.
No, I have not won the lottery, but due to some budgeting and cash flow changes, the chances are better than they even were a few weeks ago that at some point in the near future, I can choose to stay home.
Other than that, I have been organizing! Cleaing out closets, labeling, organizing my pantry, looking at recipes, etc. Laying the foundation you might say…
Moms…tell me about your household budgets! I would love to know how you keep track of your expenses. We have a budget we printed out after taking the Dave Ramsey course which we really thought was useful. Do you use envelopes? Do you find there is a temptation to spend more money when you are home with the kids? If so, why?
May the first week of January be filled with promise for you all!