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SAHMing on a tight budget - support thread? - Page 2

post #21 of 43

As a young person (no kids, mind you!) I lived in the NYC metro on just under 30k yearly.  I ate lots of soup, but it kind of worked. 

Now, I had a handshake deal with the landlords (Roomie and landlords shared an ethnicity, deals abounded!), shared my apartment with another woman, worked from 7am-11pm 4 days a week and half a weekend, bought the cheapest everything, rolled into the gas station on fumes every payday and never had new clothes, but it worked.

I can imagine a family doing it on about double that? 

I am always amazed by what people think about the NYC metro in terms of cost.  Some people assume we're all millionaires because we didn't just up and starve to death, and some people thing my $500 to share an apartment is outrageous.  It was outrageous... outrageously good!  Roomie and landlord would chatter long in their tongue and I'd just smile, and wait to pay my half of the reduced rate. Booyah.

post #22 of 43

This looks like such a great thread! I will have to come back and read it more thoroughly when I have more time. But I completely agree- many people seem to think that because you are a SAHM, you're rich. That or lazy. But both are completely untrue. 

Anyway, some frugal living tips of mine are :

breastfeed (one of the many benefits of it is that it's completely free!), plan ahead and buy only essentials (trying using coupons and/or getting sale items), get store brand (if possible), get secondhand clothes or hand me downs, get coconut oil (it is so good for you and has a multitude of uses! I use it as hair conditioner, face wash, lotion... i also mix some baking soda with it to form a toothpaste, and I recently tried mixing it with splenda and coco to make "Healthy" chocolate), DIY, re-purpose and recycle old items (ie, old shirts, old baby clothes, etc), limit time spent driving, buy certain items in bulk (I love costco, it is actually cheaper in the long run to get items such as frozen veggies, toilet paper, paper towels, etc in bulk), do free activities (walk, library, etc), use  a variation of the "no poo" method and wash your hair a few times a week, instead of daily (it really helps your hair!), etc.

I also wanted to ask a quick question:  what are some other ways to work from home besides the usual making your own business and babysitting? Although, being a SAHM is great, it would be nice to generate some type of income and save some money. Thanks!

post #23 of 43

Ah, the ethnic landlord thing. I've have been the beneficiary of this relationship many times. I was raised Italian-American and lived many years in Howard Beach (a stronghold of southern Italians and their American-born descendants) and paid very, very little for a huge 3 bedroom apartment while the non-Italians across the street were paying double. My husband and I got a sweet deal when we lived in Forest Hills because he and the owner were of Russian descent; our rent increases were smaller than they could/should have been. It doesn't always work this way; it can come down to language, nationality, or even the town/city the landlord came from. It can be outrageous -- paying $500 for a share of a 2 bed pre-war or a 1 bed with a wall put up in the living room is damned good, depending on the area. Paying $500 for a walk-in closet/heavily subdivided 1 bed is not. As a native NYer I never understood why people would do that.

post #24 of 43

I was 10 miles southwest of Manhattan, and it was the entire upstairs of a house that had been converted.  All I had to do was tolerate the smell of their cooking and be wrong in every single argument between my roomie and I.  When we gave notice the lady of the house had it rented out for 1 1/2 times what we were paying within the afternoon.





Erm... I mean to say, twice as much as we paid and then half that amount again.

post #25 of 43
Thread Starter 

In fairness to the school coordinator I cited, she wasn't trying to say that 80k constituted "needy"; she was saying that the lowest-earning families at the school, those that qualified for the max tuition reduction, made that amount. So really I was shocked that an amount that seems like so much to me could be the lowest side of the spectrum for that school population (FWIW this was a religious preschool, not a ritzy private prep school feeder).


Iowa, I don't have a good knowledge of your area so I can't really comment knowledgably on the COL differences, but my DH is from the American southeast and I can tell you that the COL difference between the state where most of his family lives and where we live is substantial. I'm certainly not an economist, but I would estimate that $80k here is worth about $45-50k in DH's home state, FWIW. It is not primarily in the area of goods and services but rather in housing, both the real estate cost and property tax (whether your rent or buy, these things factor into the price). I could go on and on about this, but basically property values are approx. 2.5x what they are in many parts of the country and our property tax is almost equal to our mortgage. On paper we pay less than the 30% max of gross income that mortgage lenders allow, and the bank would be happy to lend us more even on our small income. In reality, after taxes, we pay approx. 60% of our take-home pay on housing. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about this, except move out of the area, which we would love to do. (Oher tristaters, weigh in?)


I hear you on the price of gas. Anytime I have to drive 1/2 hour+ I feel the $$ pain. I am super jealous of life on the farm :) but I can understand how that would make you cabin fever-y, especially in winter. I'm assuming you don't have a public library near you, huh? Maybe a local diner to go out for a little weekly treat like ice cream sundaes with friends (I know, not a budget buster but sometimes if it's paying for an outing, I consider it a low entertainment cost rather than an outrageous markup for ice cream).


MrsGregory, you are cracking me up! $500 for a share anywhere in the metro area is outrageously good. Seriously, outrageously good!


fayth, I agree, maybe we are just weirdos but I can't figure out how people go through so many drugstore items so quickly. A bottle of shampoo lasts so long around here, it really does not factor into the budget. In fact, I can afford to be picky about the ingredients because we buy shampoo etc. so infrequently. I am trying to figure out the work from home thing myself. I would really like to use my training (I'm finishing my doctorate right now) so my situation is probably somewhat unique, but I am very excited about the possibility of developing online learning resources. I hope others will have more ideas! I do know a few people who do freelance copywriting, copyediting, translating, or PR/marketing work from home, but that's usuall;y because they built up a client base beforehand while working at a firm.

post #26 of 43

Oh gozal, my family is all still in the tri-state, yes, let's talk about those taxes.

And yet, stubborn NYers they are, and all of them at least 2 generations in to that area now, I am the only one that went west and discovered queso and mortgages under a quarter million.  My property taxes are miniscule.  Do they listen?  Nope.



post #27 of 43

Where is this magical place with good cheese and affordable mortgages? I want to go!!!! Does it have an IT industry and a need for archivists? My husband and I (along with pretty much all of our friends) have been looking to leave the tri-state for years but not getting a foothold on jobs elsewhere is tethering us to the Island. Ugh. 

post #28 of 43

We're in the suburbs of Austin.  The tech industry here is thriving.  The people are actually fairly friendly for southerners - I think it's because we're at the gateway to the west, and not really in the heart of the south.  The city is pretty livable, and if you can afford to live in the heart of the city, it's very walkable, which I found pretty surprising. 

The food here is awful.  I won't lie.  You'd better learn to like Tex-mex or BBQ.  Anything else, you have to make at home.  You can drive outside the city and visit some Czech and German enclaves that serve their own fare, which is a nice break from Tex-mex, but there are no falafel stands, if you catch my drift.  There are some very nice upscale American farm-to-market places, and there is a thriving south-east Asian community, but otherwise your options are fairly limited.  The weather is nice if you enjoy very hot, dry weather.  There were over 100 days of over 100F last year.  Be aware.  Bring sunscreen.  Kiss your winter coat wardrobe goodbye.  You will NOT need to keep a lap blanket in your car.  The housing here is really affordable, and fairly nice although your choices are limited.  No Greek Revival neighborhoods.  No miles and miles of Victorians.  "Old" means from the early 1900s here.  There are no basements (but there is the occasional tornado watch/warning), and everyone has central air, which they turn on in late February and turn off for Christmas, no matter what.  Overall, I do recommend it as a possible re-location destination for expatriated NYers.  If anyone from the NY area actually winds up moving here, I am happy to play tour guide to the best of my ability.  I foolishly didn't expect culture shock when I moved to Richmond, and it was a miserable few years.  Having someone explain that Einstein Bros. bagels is as good as it's gonna get might be helpful.  Austin is far, far better than Richmond in many ways.


Edited to add/  Queso is not cheese.  Queso is hot Cheez-whiz with jalapenos added in, and you eat it on everything here.  It's so bad it's good.

post #29 of 43

I LOVE reading this post.  I feel a kindred spirit amongst many of you.  

Technically, there's no way DH and I should be able to lead the lifestyle that we do.  We live comfortably on one modest income and haven't ever been in dire need of money. DH and I married late and had (at the time) around $130k debt for a combined 10 yrs undergrad, 2 yrs grad school, 2 cars, 1 humble house.  Seven years and one child later, we have pinched pennies and cut it back to $75k. Sounds like a lot, but every penny has gone into paying it off and we don't do extra curriculars that cost $ or buy any unneeded crap.  We have fun getting creative with what is free or very inexpensive.  It's exciting.  We have what we need and don't desire material minutia.  And we DEFinitely don't keep up with the Jones' :D. GASP!

-I echo many of the things people have said about "Well it must be nice to be able to afford to stay home".....hear it...ignore it... 

-We live a little over an hour from a big city...There is a very wealthy area there that has a Goodwill and that's where I've been able to get DH's Nordstrom's and Brooks Brothers collared shirts for work, which cost us about $3.75 each.

-If you have a large freezer, buying meat from a farmer is a good way to save and stay healthy, i.e. buy half a cow, etc.

-If you don't have a way to grow your own veggies, farmers markets are great and many foods can be bought in bulk and frozen.  Apples, for example, are only in season for a couple months, and applesauce is so easy to make and can for the rest of the year.

-Growing a veggie plant or two in a 5-gal bucket is a nice alternative if you live in an apartment. 

-Local State Universities will usually have an Extension program website where you can learn to do all sorts of things on your own.  They also sponsor "Home Ec" clubs where you can gain valuable social time with other women who are also trying to keep the home while saving money. 

-I have heard of moms who form a "meal co-op" with two or three other moms.  They each make two or three of a certain meal then trade with the other moms for their meals.  Sounds great! 

-An idea for a gift request would be a pass to an entertainment venue (ie. zoo, museum, etc) so the kids don't have to do the 'free' thing all the time.

-In a nearby town, we have an event called a "Kids Sale" where people can consign their kids stuff and make money.  Our sale is a 1-day event biannually, but bigger cities may have a whole weekend for it.  This is a magnificent thing, as I can get clothes, toys, books and both Christmas and Birthday presents knocked out without going over $50.  Those types of sales are fairly common in the U.S. and are WORTH going to if you can find them.

-We don't do Netflix, as the local library has a great movie selection.



Thanks for posting this thread!

post #30 of 43

I love this thread!  I lived for 4 years alone, and 2 year married in NYC, first in queens and then on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.  We lived there for 10 months after we had a baby, and managed on a 50K income without having any luxuries, but without having to make any real sacrifices either.  But we could never have afforded preschool there, though I guess we would have had financial aid!  I never bothered to ask.  We have a partially subsidized apartment from Columbia University, and still paid $1400/month plus utilities.  We didn't have any debt, and we able to save enough to make a down-payment on a house.  We moved from NYC to a small town in Virginia last July and bought a house here, which we could never have afforded in NY.  Everything is cheaper here, but what I really appreciate is that I don't feel that people here are striving to prove they have more money than their neighbors, as I felt everyone did in NY.  I love it here!

post #31 of 43
I'm mostly a SAHM- I work 3 12 hr shifts every three weeks and that income is helping to pay off some construction help we had done when they went over budget. My DH has his own business and its tiiiiiiiight at times with 3 kids (okay all the time) so we do without extras. No going out to eat (we went for dinner twice last year) and I garage sale and shop consignment for a lot of kids clothes. eBay and Craigslist are awesome for toys and furniture. I sign up at Houseparty.com to host different parties and they send stuff to have specific parties to promote their products. I've received Nicholas Sparks books and a ton of Imaginext toys- it was better than Christmas for my son!!!
post #32 of 43

I've really enjoyed reading this, even though it's a pretty old thread. ;)


I've just recently become a SAHM again after 7 years (my position was eliminated at work).  My dh is a full-time student & I'm pregnant with our 4th child.  As of right now, we're living on about $800/month...I have no idea how, but we're doing our best to make it work.  I can completely relate to people being "jealous", or thinking we're just so lucky...it's kind of a "the grass is always greener" type of thing IMO.  We have one vehicle that's 11 years old...it's still in very good condition and has low miles.  We can't afford to eat out or go on trips.  We can't really afford to do much of anything extra.  


I feel lucky that we have food and a roof over our heads, but not lucky as other people seem to think, if that makes any sense.  Anyways, I was glad to see others who are in a similar situation. 

post #33 of 43

I was just thinking I need to come back to this thread - we had some medical bills eat our small "cushion" in our bank account, and I really need to get back to basics to find a bit of a buffer (if possible).  We've been making some progress (trying to find cheaper ways to cook healthy meals, making more things ourselves around the house, etc.) and getting our garden going soon, but we're closer to the edge, and I'd like to scale back even more.  DS is getting older (just turned 2) so in some ways, that's helpful for me to do more things around the house - sometimes it's not, because he's less inclined to stay strapped in the carrier for naps or long stretches. smile.gif

post #34 of 43
That sucks pickle...medical bills are just ridiculously expensive. You mentioned cooking healthier, boy do i need some healthy cooking lessons! LoL I always seem to get into a cooking rut fairly quickly. Growing up it was just me & my mom, so we didnt really cook all that often. I guess thats why it seems more like another chore to me. I really wish i enjoyed it more.
post #35 of 43
Originally Posted by WittyNameHere View Post

Where is this magical place with good cheese and affordable mortgages? I want to go!!!! Does it have an IT industry and a need for archivists? My husband and I (along with pretty much all of our friends) have been looking to leave the tri-state for years but not getting a foothold on jobs elsewhere is tethering us to the Island. Ugh. 


I went to grad school in the Upper Peninsula (Michigan) and Ph.D students were buying houses on their stipends.  $20 - $40K was not uncommon for a home.  And Wisconsin cheese curds were EVERYWHERE!  So, there you go.  Cheese and low mortgage.  You'd have to be pretty darned lucky to find a job, though.

post #36 of 43
Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

I went to grad school in the Upper Peninsula (Michigan) and Ph.D students were buying houses on their stipends.  $20 - $40K was not uncommon for a home.  And Wisconsin cheese curds were EVERYWHERE!  So, there you go.  Cheese and low mortgage.  You'd have to be pretty darned lucky to find a job, though.

Haha there's cheese! And good Vollwerth's hot dogs smile.gif I'm close to Michigan Tech - not tons of jobs around here :/ We're looking for an experienced diesel tech though!
post #37 of 43

We lived in the urban Boston area when my first was born and I became a SAHM mom. We lived in an area where people were realistic about what things cost (we had the best discount grocery store) but right next to quite a fancy one and oh boy, the assumptions of what you needed to have kids.

How many times can you say Kindermusic is just not in our budget? Never mind driving to New Hampshire every week for raw milk.

post #38 of 43
Originally Posted by asherie23 View Post

Haha there's cheese! And good Vollwerth's hot dogs smile.gif I'm close to Michigan Tech - not tons of jobs around here :/ We're looking for an experienced diesel tech though!


Yup, Michigan Tech is where I got my grad degree.  I dream about moving back up there sometimes, where we rented a cottage on the water with canoe access for $450/month, and deer made little sleeping holes in the snow in our backyard.  We got all our heating wood nearly free by hauling it out of the state forest.  And there were no good restaurants or stores to tempt away extra cash!  If I get the gumption to go after a Ph.D, I know where I'll be headed...

post #39 of 43
We do heat with wood- it's nice not to have the gas bill but DH has a hard time finding time to cut wood. And I'm horrible at it (blame a fear from watching little house on the prairie and Pa chops his leg..) so it's not optimal warmth. Love having a sauna though!! Home spa! smile.gif
I've been baking my own bread and trying to convince DH to get me some chickens (never mind that I have no clue!)
post #40 of 43

We've been living paycheck to paycheck since I became a SAHM in '08 when my first was born.  Unfortunately we managed to combine preschool payments and wasteful spending to get us behind on our mortgage.  Plus, we are expecting a surprise #4 in March!  This means we'll have to wait to upgrade our 2000 Grand Cherokee for a van (not worth much to trade in).  My pocket money budget is enough to visit grandma's once a week plus we buy our amish milk and eggs while we're down there.  I'm mourning loss of freedom a little bit.  For the past two years we were able to do music classes at the University, but I wouldn't be able to cover the gas to get there even if we could qualify for a scholarship : /  I filled out an open doors application for the YMCA, but the fee was only reduced by $10.  We were home bound for about a year when we only had one car, but I think my son being in kindergarten, going to my parents and ladies bible study once a week will break up our week enough not to go bonkers!  Oh I almost forgot I'll be working flu clinics September through October, so hopefully that will be a good chunk of change to throw at it (though I already have a list of things I could easily blow it all on too!)

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