Even as a SAHM myself, I am gobsmacked at the entitlement and lack of real information and understanding in this thread. I don't recall who it was early on who said that people needed to buy fewer CDs and things, but... well, I'll let Elizabeth Warren
explain it better than I can. It's not buying DVDs or cable that force people to be two income families - or drive families, one income or two, into bankruptcy. It's spiraling housing costs, educational costs (yes, even with "free" public education) and healthcare costs. And those things aren't as maleable as some folks seem to believe. It's easy enough to say, "Well, just lower your expectations and buy a cheaper house." At least in our case, buying a cheaper house would mean moving, I kid you not, two hours away from dh's job. There are no jobs in his field in places where housing is cheaper, at least none that pay even half of what he earns here. So either he'd drive two hours each way to get to the job (now, what would that do to our family, his health and the cost of maintaining and operating his car), or he'd have to take such a pay cut that we wouldn't be able to afford to live even in the cheaper house. I'm sure there are parts of the country where he could earn a salary on which we could afford to live, and where the cost of living is much lower. But that would take us hours and hours away from both of our families, our children's friends, everything we know and love. Where's the justice in that? For the *possibility* that we might be able to save a little more money.
As I said, I am able to be a SAHM. I consider us to be extremely lucky, and I don't fool myself into believing that it's because I'm smarter or more disciplined or any other "I'm better than you" reason. Yes, we have to be frugal to do it. But the two income families I know are very frugal too. Even "non-frugal" families, how much are they really blowing as a percentage of their total budget? A tiny proportion, truly. For the most part, "non-frugality" doesn't mean buying a big-screened television for every room of the house, it means relying a little more on convenience foods or not always combining errands in the most efficient way. And when you've got both adults working out of the house and juggling school schedules, after school activities, bill paying, and trying to find a few hours with the kids... I can't blame them for buying pre-cooked rice once in a while. Really, how much of their bottom line does that really impact? 1%? No kidding, seriously. If I were WOH, I could not possibly afford the time to make my own kefir, yogurt, bone broth, to always quarter and bone chickens instead of buying them prepared. But the cost of those few conveniences on top of the rest of my grocery budget (milk and eggs, ground beef, fresh vegetables) would add only a few dollars a week.
Truth is, even as frugal as we are, we're not saving money. I sometimes wish I could go to work so our family could start to generate some *savings*. But, my working wouldn't help because it would be eaten up in the cost of day care and added car usage, not to mention bumping us up another tax bracket. We've gone over and over the numbers. Moving wouldn't guarantee us more security, and would entail risk; here there's risk too, but it's known risk and we have a support network that can help us stay afloat if we do founder. I don't feel scorn for those families who live in our local economic situation who can't make it without two salaries. I don't feel pity (except for those whom I personally know to feel embittered at being forced into the workplace.) I do fear, though, that this economy as it stands is unsustainable and that a lot of us, single or two earner families, are all at terrible risk. I just don't think that many of us are in a position to do anything about it as individuals. A few people might be lucky and/or brave enough to be able to make that leap, but too many are stuck by job, family, circumstance.
So go ahead and gloat about how lucky you are. Hey, there's nothing wrong with that - as long as you admit that it's luck, not superior lifestyle.