Hello out there frugal mamas!
I have been spending all my 'spare' time trying to come up with ways to live more frugally, spend less on food (but still feed my kids healthfully), and so on.
The story: DH works full time- more than full time- and I am a SAHM. we have 3 kids in 1st grade and 17 mo old. My work qualifications don't add up to a very high income, so we know if I worked we'd be basically reinvesting my entire paycheck into child care and school plus. Recently my DH was given a pay cut at work. It had nothing to do with performance- he works for a small company managing all of their marketing, design, and website. He was made a "partner" awhile back and is given a "base wage" which is basically minimum wage, plus a percentage of sales. So he sacrificed a higher hourly for the potential to make more in percentage as the company grew (the company has doubled annual sales since DH went to work for them- prior to that they had no marketing/web person). For a few months there things were looking up- more income! We paid off some debt, and right as that chunk was paid off his boss decided he had made a mistake in the base wage/percentage and essentially cut his monthly income by a quarter- essentially we are at square one, DH has been wrecked. he worked so hard to get to where he was- and knows the company owner isn't very business savvy or respectful of employees. It's a pattern and unfair things will probably keep happening- this wasn't the first time. We already just make ends meet, we rent a house we are already outgrowing but can't afford anything more. We have no savings. We need to get health insurance soon. With his pay cut we will have zero leftover on our current budget.
Of course I jumped in and said I'd go to work, or watch some kids from home. However there is still the issue of our school aged children, the cost of child care and school plus, and the possibility of his schedule changing if he finds a new job (he's looking). My son with ASD currently gets a small amount in SSI as well and if I made any income we would lose it, and it would equate to me having to make up for that AND childcare. I just feel stuck, like I can't do anything financially to help other than figure out a way to cut costs in the home.
One of the frustrating factors- and some mamas on here have voiced similar concerns- is that DH is totally on the wagon for "saving money" and budgeting, but he - we - are both pretty good at putting out wants last & kids/household/bills first. HOWEVER, any time I cook food from scratch that is mostly veg/ not standard "kid faire" either he or the kids complain, because I would rather feat them, say, a veggie-pasta casserole made from scratch (cheap) than brand x chicken nuggets and fries (also cheap, but processed etc). I looked at my 17 month old eating every healthy thing I put on his tray last night and was like- "honey, if the baby is willing to eat everything I give him, then 3 first graders can. they're getting too old to be catered to!"... However, when DH does the shopping (not often) his idea of saving money is buying the cheapest partially-prepared food vs a bunch of raw/ fresh ingredients. Often you need to buy a lot of that in bulk each month or so, and he's trying to pay for food week by week and having a small budget makes buying bulk ingredients tricky.
I guess I'm posting to ask a few questions:
1) How little can you spend a week/ month to feed a family of 5 or 6 healthfully? What does that look like? I feel like we already spend so little but maybe I can do things differently...
2) How did you "get real" with DH about this? DH KNOWS we need to live more frugally, but how did you get him to really see what that looks like?
3) Is there any decent way to make money at home? Is it worth going to work full time/paying childcare expenses / putting all our kids in childcare if all we come out ahead with is $300 or so?
I feel like we can do something different and it will help. I can tell DH is stressed because this pay cut came right before holiday season.
Trying to figure it out.
Any thoughts/ experiences/ recommendations are welcome! Thank you.