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Any SAHMs out there?? - how do you do it??

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking out loud, so forgive this very long post!

I am thinking of either staying home or only working part time. I have to figure out how to afford it. I make more than DH (only by a little now, but my income is going up and his is staying the same), so we'd have to figure out how to live on a lot less.

OK, here's what's happened. I've come to realize that I'm living a lifestyle that I don't like. Sure, the money is great, but life's not all about money. We are up at 5am to go to work - DD is always so grumpy about it - and then it seems like all we have time to do in the evenings is eat, sleep and get ready for the next day. I feel like I didn't really choose this path, but fell into it. We're not really living.

Now, with kid #2 coming, dayhome costs will go up, and the mornings will get even crazier. It's justy not healthy (I had adrenal fatigue last fall, clearly not coping well.).

But, We have about $1000/month to make up, when you count things like no commuting costs, less expensive clothes, less coffees and lunches out, no dayhome.

So, does anyone have any experience with this?? What do you do to make ends meet? Is it as hard as I think?? Is there anything that is more expensive now that you stay home?

g.
post #2 of 29
The only thing that's more expensive with me staying home is our grocery bill, since I'm home for every meal and I actually take the time to EAT every meal -- when I worked, I ate out for lunch and got takeout for most dinners, but skipped breakfast, never snacked, and didn't always get to take a lunch break. The total food bill is still cheaper, but it feels like we're paying more now.

We made a lot of cutbacks when I decided to stay at home with our daughter, because my paycheck wouldn't be much more than daycare costs anyway, so it wasn't worth it. Since I wasn't driving to work every day, we spent less money on gas and vehicle maintenance (I actually ended up selling my car because hubby walks to work, and we didn't need two cars anymore). I stopped buying "fast meals" like frozen dinners and the meals-in-a-box, and instead opted for whole ingredients -- it takes a little longer, but it's healthier and cheaper. We stopped buying pop and juice so much, and instead got a faucet-mount water filter -- again, much cheaper and much healthier. We stopped buying so many "extras" like movies and video games (we're gamer nerds), and only buy the ones that are really important to us -- if possible, we buy used so it's less expensive. I also switched our daughter to cloth diapers, and that saves a TON of money. If you're currently using disposable, I highly recommend looking into cloth -- much cheaper, and better for baby and the environment besides.

One thing that helped us too was to consolidate some credit cards. When we get an offer that has a really low rate, we sign up and transfer one of our higher-rate balances to the new card, and then cut up the old card and cancel it. It's saved a bunch of money in credit card bills (we have a lot of debt).

You can also find lots of ways to make money from home. I write for a website called AssociatedContent.com (there's a thread in the Mother's Writing Group here on MDC)... I don't make a fortune, but it helps. There are other similar sites, and you can do things like a home business or medical transcription from home, if you need the extra money.

If you do decide to stay at home, there are lots of ways to make it work. You can do it if you want to! Good luck!
post #3 of 29
I don't mean to be negative, but are you sure?

I was making more than DH (not much, but a little like you) when I went PT after Alex was born, and when I went back FT after nearly 3 years, I'm making almost EXACTLY what I made before with no cost-of-living increase. It's depressing! In the meantime DH got raises and changed jobs and is now making 38% more than me. I'd never done the calculation before. That's even more depressing!

If you want to work in the loooong run, think of it this way. This crazy phase with small children will only last about 5 more years. And it will get less and less crazy as time passes.

BTW, do I remember correctly that you're an engineer? How easy do you think it will be for a FEMALE engineer to return to FT work after being PT? I hate to say it, but we live in a seriously sexist world, and you work in a seriously sexist industry (if you remember I work in Accounting for an engineering company . . .).

Granted, you will see from my sig that I will most likely stay home come next Spring, so I may not end up practicing what I'm preaching. I'm looking into education opportunities to get me out of accounting (yuck!) and into something (preferably from home) that will make me some money and lead into my next "career." If you do stay home or work PT, stay connected! Take classses, do contract work, etc.

I totally agree money isn't everything and I thought queenbean's suggestions were great. We cloth diaper and do daycare. It's do-able (skinky, but do-able). I'm not saying all this because I think you must earn money. But if you like what you do, and you want to do it in the future, don't give it up without a fight. DH could stay home, ya know . . . maybe HE could work PT?

Since you're in Canada, you will have a much longer maternity leave to explore your options and make a decision than we Americans anyway. Enjoy it, and take your time with this decision.

Good Luck (and please don't shoot the messenger
--LEE
post #4 of 29
wow, good discussion!

I've been on both sides of this fence. I've at times earned more than DH, worked during the first 1 1/2yr with our daughter, then was laid off, on bedrest, and stayed home for a year before getting another job for a year and now I stay at home. So, I feel I've done the survey of stay at home or work. At first, I felt like I was one of those "I'm a better Mom because I work" Now that I have actually stayed at home for more than a year I see that it was better for me to be home instead of only having like 2hours a day together. I have been a little more frazzled with staying at home than I ever was when I was working. I had way more patience with the kids when I was away from them all day!

BUT...it's doable and I feel like my children are learning more, are less sick than when they had a babysitter, they are more well behaved and we do more as a family. I feel the sacrifices are worth it. I have a masters degree and as it stands, I would gladly choose my kids over my career. I worked hard to get where I was in my life and waited longer to have kids. I'll be 38 when our next one gets here...so I guess I felt like I waited so long to have the kids I wanted why would I work and miss out on all of it. I feel very lucky to be able to stay at home right now. It might not always be the case and I may have to work again, but it is no longer my priority. I never thought I would be one to say that...I remember at one point saying that I didn't spend 70k on an education to end up cutting up carrot sticks but ... all things change. I think if it feels right for your family give it a try.

The things we gave up: weekly dates/babysitter, housekeeping, some weekend trips/travel, we shopped for used items more often and basic things like bumping up the a/c a degree or two in the summer/down in the winter etc
It is really just a lifestyle change. We go on walks now or to a park, we pack food with us instead of picking something up.
One thing that might help is to keep a log of what you spend each day for a month and at the end tally up by catagory and eliminate the extras. It will help you see what it will take and if you'll have enough to do it on one salary. I still do this and it keeps us on track. (I know, I'm anal)
Good Luck,

Chris
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Lee- You bring up a good point about thinking about this long-term. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!

For the record I'm an engineering tech, not an engineer. I like to joke that I do all their work for them and they get the credit. It's only partially true!
I don't have a lot of education related to my job (ahem...sociology, linguistics anyone). I don't think I'm at a disadvantage being a woman - all the techs I know are women. Right now my job sucks, but that's because the people I'm working with (not so much the people but what they are having me do), so even if I do go back to work I won't do it without some changes. I think I need to have a conversation with my boss about this - but obviously not today - hormonal pregnant woman ranting isn't going to accomplish anything.

g.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Does it really get easier when they get older??!?? I only see it getting worse. DD is 3. She goes to a fantastic dayhome - all I have to do in the morning is get her up, dressed, hair brushed and out the door.

When she goes to school I will have to make lunches, help with homework in the evenings, and get her to and from any after-school activities. I can only see it getting harder to juggle everything from here on in, especially with the second on the way.

g.
post #7 of 29
I stay at home. Left a very good paying job in the IT field to do it. I just knew that the hours and the stress would not be could for me and my family. Now I think working would be less stress! (It wouldn't but the grass can be greener some days ya know?)

Anyway, I plan to change career fields when I do go back and work as a school psychologist...that way I can have somewhat of the same schedule as the kids and all that. (We don't have any family around to help so one us would miss a lot of time of work with the year around school schedule and other misc things)

That said, we make it work with only one income. We have no car payments...that is a big thing I think. I cannot imagine doing it on one income with 2 car payments...soif you have any and if you can get rid of those, or at least one, that will be a huge help. But we also don't spend money like water anymore. I don't need tons of clothes, we don't get the latest and greatest of everything, we don't spend tons of money on lunches because I eat at home...we rarely go out to eat. Friends of mine who work go out to dinner at least twice a week. When I worked we did tons of take out, dined out...it was just a different lifestyle.
post #8 of 29
I guess I'm different from most of the pps in that I've never had any real career ambitions. I have a bachelors degree, but only did that b/c that's what everyone does after high school. While in college I went through several different majors before ending up with one that in the end I just ended up finishing b/c it was too late to transfer colleges (again!).

TBH, the only thing I've ever wanted to do was stay at home with my children. I'm sure the lady who wrote "The Feminine Mistake" would just have a field day with my life, but I have no plans to go back to work...period. I worked full-time for a number of years in jobs that I hated. I see no need to go back to that anytime soon.

I fully acknowledge that there are many women who want to have a career, enjoy what they do, or for whatever reason don't feel fulfilled being a SAHM. In those cases, I think it's probably best that they are a WOHM or even a WAHM. I absoultey think that you need to go with your heart on the issue. Where do you think you will get the greatest sense of fulfillment?

As to how we do it financially...we go without a lot of the "necessities" that so many other people around us have. We do so partly b/c we want to save money and partly because I like how simple it makes our lives. We don't have a phone line (just a cell phone b/c it's cheaper), don't have cable TV, sometimes have internet (or go some place where we can use it for free), don't eat out, don't take vacations (although we are thinking of taking up camping), don't turn on our a/c unless absolutely necessary and then it doesn't go below 78, keep our heat set around 64 during the winter, etc.

I've always read that when making the transition, before you leave your job, start to live on just the one income (and put yours directly into savings). That way you'll get an idea of what it will be like (and what you might need to give up) and you'll be setting aside some money at the same time.
post #9 of 29
Our biggest thing is cutting our food budget.. making foods from scratch instead of the convienence(spell??) foods that are easy to pop in and out of the oven.. that kind of thing.. made a HUGE difference in our monthly food spending.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiffany_PartyOf5 View Post
Our biggest thing is cutting our food budget.. making foods from scratch instead of the convienence(spell??) foods that are easy to pop in and out of the oven.. that kind of thing.. made a HUGE difference in our monthly food spending.
You can make your own convenience foods. There are lots of websites that give "recipes" for well known convenience foods like brownie, biscuit, bread machine, and pizza dough mixes as well as seasoning and salad dressing packets.

I'll will make up anywhere from a 10 to 24 loaf portion of quick bread (pumpkin's our favorite) and portion the wet ingredients into quart freezer bags, freeze them flat on cookie sheets, then store them in the freezer in a shoebox like an old fashioned card catalog. I'll either portion the dry ingredients into loaf-sized portions or keep them in a big container with a post-it saying how much dry mix per loaf of bread.

There are lots of things you can do to boost your nutrition, slash your food budget, and still not be a slave to your kitchen. We formed a cooking co-op where we meet once a month at a community gym/kitchen and make put together mixes and make & freeze all manner of food for the coming month. One mom make snacks and entertains/supervises the children in the gym while the other moms cook.

HTH,
BV
post #11 of 29
i've been a SAHM since i was 6mo pregnant with #1. i've just never known any different, so basically your whole married life we've had to deal with one paycheck. dh is navy, so there really is no way i could work. unless my kids lived at a daycare center. lol.

we don't eat out often, ask for passes to fun places (like gymbore, the zoo, botanical garedens) for gifts instead of the crap load of plastic toys from family for chirstmas. that gives us lots of free activities.

we make all our meals from scratch ('cept the ocasional frozen pizza for when i'm SUPER lazy, lol). i cancelled our cells, and went for a prepaid one that is going to cost us way, way, less.

we do without a lot of "bling." lol. we have one car, paid off. no fancy tv's, ect. we do have direct tv & cable modem ... but they are my deployment necessities, lol.

it would probably be harder downsizing like you are, than how we are, never having two incomes. it is definitely a lifestyle change. but entirely possible!
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryonyvaughn View Post
You can make your own convenience foods. There are lots of websites that give "recipes" for well known convenience foods like brownie, biscuit, bread machine, and pizza dough mixes as well as seasoning and salad dressing packets.

I'll will make up anywhere from a 10 to 24 loaf portion of quick bread (pumpkin's our favorite) and portion the wet ingredients into quart freezer bags, freeze them flat on cookie sheets, then store them in the freezer in a shoebox like an old fashioned card catalog. I'll either portion the dry ingredients into loaf-sized portions or keep them in a big container with a post-it saying how much dry mix per loaf of bread.

There are lots of things you can do to boost your nutrition, slash your food budget, and still not be a slave to your kitchen. We formed a cooking co-op where we meet once a month at a community gym/kitchen and make put together mixes and make & freeze all manner of food for the coming month. One mom make snacks and entertains/supervises the children in the gym while the other moms cook.

HTH,
BV

I love the idea of making mixes etc. I really think that would help working families, too, so you have something quick and healthy to eat after work. Why did I not think of this stuff before??
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for all your thoughtful replies. I am teetering on the issue right now. I was having a super-bad hormonal, sleep-deprived prego mom day yesterday and was thinking there's no way working is going to work. Today I'm remembering how stir-crazy I was on mat leave with my dd. Good thing I don't have to decide anytime soon. I'm sure the right choice will become obvious. We'll have several months of cut sallary when I'm on mat leave to see how far we can cut the budget, and see if I can cope, etc.

g.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by g&a View Post
Today I'm remembering how stir-crazy I was on mat leave with my dd. Good thing I don't have to decide anytime soon. g.
Your mention of 'stir crazy' makes me just want to jump in and say that though I'm SAHM, I'm rarely at home.
We are at storytime at our local Borders, craft activities that are at local libraries, friends' houses for "tribe" days where there are anywhere from 3-10 other moms with kids. We have memberships at the zoo, botanical gardens, science center, art museum etc. We go to our local farmers market which is outdoors and has lots of interesting vendors. We try stay at home 2 days a week and we usually end up running our errands those days or cleaning house and it's a nice day to just be at home. My kids and I would all lose our minds if we were home all day. I know it can be really hard those first few months, but with a good baby wrap anything is doable! I'm also not one of those modest nursers so my babies have been nursed everywhere which made getting out easier I'm sure.
I know that once I have 3 I'll probably have a hard time making that first outing (what to do with the older two if I need to nurse the little one is a big concern)....but we're all happier with some things to do.
Having good mom friends IRL is crucially important to avoid brain atrophy too. I'm a huge fan of mom's nights out!

Chris
post #15 of 29
I think eating out is the big thing. When I worked it was so easy to eat lunches out and then stop on the way home and have dinner or pick something up. Now it is so much easier to make food. Going to a restaurant with a 2 yo is : .

Something else is to try it in real life instead of on paper. I know I have had plenty of jobs where on paper it looks like ends can't possibly meet but somehow it all works out. I can't explain it.

When I knew I was going to be leaving my job we started putting part of my salary into savings and then gradually increased the % that went to savings as we adjusted. It was much easier to take by doing it in small doses.

If it were me I would start now instead of waiting for maternity leave - you can always use the money to buy cute new baby things. :
post #16 of 29
Oh, one other thing. I do get stir crazy sometimes. I have to make sure we have activities planned and social outings planned or we both go crazy (me and ds). It is really hard to do in the beginning (as you remember) but it really does get easier as you become familiar with things around town. AND your friends will probably shift. You will get more SAHM friends who will let you know about things going on and who will be there to talk when you need it.
post #17 of 29
I think "green," and constantly ask myself, "Do I really need this, or do I just want it, and if I need it, can I get it on Craigslist or some other alternative (pre-owned) source. On top of that, I spend time re-organizing and selling what we don't need - anything we haven't used in 6 months or so.
post #18 of 29
We make it work by me working part time. I work on DH's days off, so he watches dd, so we have no daycare fees, and I get to both A - get out of the house and be around adults and B - earn some absolutely necesary money.

honestly...random spending is higher for me at home. Because i don't like to "stay at home" so we are always out and about....which *could* be free/low cost, but...it isn't. I like to buy meals out, like if we go to the zoo, oooppss, I happen to get stuf at the snack bar. Bored? Crappy weather? We go out window shopping/mall walking..but i always buy something, etc.
when I'm working all the time, I simply have less time in which to spend money, LOL!

Mostly, stuff is way less expensive though.

As far as ways to REALLY cut the budget...house and car. unless you outright own these items, downsizing/eliminating in these areas is going to be the biggest way to save. Car payments especially are the kiss of death. Now, of you are knee-deep in leases/loans, etc, it can take some getting out of, but soimpky DON'T buy new cars. Get something cheap but reliable you can buy outright, or just pay off what you are paying on now but KEEP it and drive it forever. If you are truly looking at a "whole-life" makeover, like you say you realize your lifestyle isn't what you want, getting a cheaper house could be an answer. This depends SO MUCH on where you live, of course, as housing markets are so vastly different, but I'll use my local area as an example. Another lady from work and I bought houses at about the same time right before i had dd. she bought a $150, 000 gorgeous house in a really upscale subdivision. Yes, it was gorgeous. Yes, I LOVED it. however, she is now working 2 jobs at approx 55 hrs/week to pay her $1200/month mortgage and occasionally gets to see her kid every few days. Dh and I, after careful consideration, got a $60,000 house in a decent neighborhood, it meets our basic needs if not all of my esthetic desires, and I work about 6-10 hours per week to make up our $600/month mortgage and spend the rest of my time with my dd. different choices, each valid, neither right nor wrong..... but I personally am much happier with my choice.
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
babandjess- Your post made me smile! We bought our house for $175,000 5 years ago. It was one of the cheaper ones out there. We are staying put because housing prices have skyrocketed - It's worth well over $250,000 now. Completely rediculous, IMO, but we're thankful we bought when we did and renewed out mortgage when interest rates were at their lowest. A bigger house would be nice - we only have 2 bedrooms on the main level, and a nicer house would be nice, but I just can't buy into the excessive nature of our society.

g.
post #20 of 29
impromptukiss -
Quote:
. . .ask for passes to fun places (like gymbore, the zoo, botanical garedens) for gifts instead of the crap load of plastic toys from family for chirstmas. that gives us lots of free activities.
If you don't mind, I'm going to use this idea to start a new thread about what I could ask for for DD2's next birthday. It's months away, but I'm already dreading the pile of plastic crap that I'm sure we'll get!

G&A and bobandjess99 - Houses are similar where we live. We bought the $60K house 6 years ago, but it's worth >$90K now and the prices just keep going up. We couldn't possibly afford a larger house that is just as nice as ours. In order to go larger, we'd have to move to a crappy neighborhood or buy a house that would need so much work, it would end up being too expensive!
But no car payments are totally the way to go! We drive great (if not new and beautiful) cars and are very happy.
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