Money has been tight for us for a long time, but it has suddenly gone off the deep end. My husband announced two weeks ago that he can't stay in our marriage, so I'll be facing life as a single mama soon. We haven't told our kids yet (waiting until after Christmas), and he is living here still, probably until mid-January.
I have been a SAHM for 10 years. Fortunately I am used to living thrifty, although it was for sport before, a fun challenge to see on how little I could get away with spending. Now it's a matter of survival.
While it looks like we will have a "good" (if there is even such a thing) divorce, the complicating factor is our debt. We have a mortgage of 140k plus about 40k in other debt. It's hard to explain, but a lot of this debt is about his life-long tendency to look to the next thing for his happiness. I can't tell you all how many expensive hobbies he's had in his neurotic quest to find himself. I have no doubt I was enabling him as I always just wanted him to be happy. Stupid, stupid, stupid on my part, I know.
He makes a good single income (just over 100k) but we live in a high cost area. He will support us in all the right ways and eventually I will have to go to work. But we're hoping to live so that the kids only have to live through one upheaval at a time, which means for now staying in this house.
Fortunately I have amazing family who are helping me out. I am cooking almost exclusively from my pantry and freezer, and going through the flyers almost obsessively. We have a lot of stuff in this house that I will be selling through ebay/craigslist, etc., a lot of it being stuff from his discarded pursuits. I do after school care for a few kids a couple days a week, which I will keep doing until I get a real job.
My main goal money wise right now is to pay off the debt as quickly as possible- not just because debt is expensive, but because I want to unglue myself from him financially as quickly as possible (save of course for child and for awhile spousal support). Eventually I will sell this house (he's signing over his half to me as part of our settlement) and buy something smaller in a more affordable neighbourhood.
December though I have to say is bumming me out. On top of Christmas, which is expensive enough, we have my son's birthday. Plus there are teacher's gifts and hostess gifts to the parties we are invited to. I have a small stockpile of nice cotton yarn that I think I will use to crochet some nice dishcloths for gifts. That will cost nothing as I have the yarn already, and I think if I bundle them in 3 and tie them with a pretty ribbon they will look great.
As for my kids, I luckily have some gifts already for them that I picked up in my thrift store travels over the year. I am always amazed at what I can find that is brand new and still in the package. So far this way I have found a Star Wars board game for my son, a Scrabble Jr game for the family (we have always gotten a board game at Christmas, it's our tradition), a crafty Klutz kit thing for my daughter. We have never gone hog wild. I grew up with 3 presents (symbolizing the gifts the three wise men brought)- one was always a pair of pj's, a book, and there would always be a specific 'thing' I wanted.
I try to be optimistic though- yes it sucks but it is also good for me to be forced to live creatively.