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#1 of 49 Old 06-07-2011, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do families with one income and a stay-at-home parent afford to make a monthly rent or mortgage payment? Do you live in a low cost-of-living area?

 

I know that you can save money with clothing, food, household products, etc., but how do you save money on housing, especially with one or more children?

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#2 of 49 Old 06-07-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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I live in a high cost of living area and have been a SAHM since my first was born over 6 years ago.

 

My husband has a good salary.  We budget pretty well.  We don't go on expensive vacations.  We sold our house at the height of the market and paid off our cars and student loans, so we have no debt.  That helps tremendously.

 

We are very lucky though, and realize that.


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#3 of 49 Old 06-07-2011, 10:04 PM
 
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We live in a SUPER high cost area (Oahu, Hawaii) but spent 12 years living frugally before we had our son for this to work. Also, we didn't take out any student loans, we drive a crappy car and rent instead of own. But I love the flexibility it gives me not to have to go back to work. I don't think a family can make it on one income withut pre=planning nowadays.

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#4 of 49 Old 06-08-2011, 04:52 AM
 
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We bought our house based on only DH's income. My plan was to someday move to a bigger house. Then I decided to never return to work. So now here we are in a small ranch "making it work."

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#5 of 49 Old 06-08-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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We live in a relatively high cost-of-living area (downtown Chicago), and I am a mostly (90%?) stay-at-home mom.  My income, what little there is, goes into savings.  How do we do it?

 

1) We don't have a mortgage, as mentioned by a PP.  Renting rather than owning is less stressful for us, as we don't have to worry about maintenance costs.

2) We live in a lovely neighborhood, but in an old (NOT updated) apartment.  We don't have a yard or central air conditioning or a washer/dryer in our unit. We make do with our patio and fans and the shared basement laundry. 

3) Our apartment is quite small - 500 square feet.  It has two tiny bedrooms and one miniscule bathroom, and our family of three fits fine.  I think we could add one or two more between co-sleeping and lots of time outdoors.

4) We live right by some train tracks.  I don't mind at all, but supposedly this can lower costs by about 20%.  Sweet!

 

Obviously, we do a lot of other things to save money too.  However, those are the main ways we save on rent.  We didn't think much about each of those factors, though... before we found this place, we set a max rent budget and only looked at apartments that met that criteria.  I feel so blessed to live where we do for what we pay. 


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#6 of 49 Old 06-08-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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We live in a fairly low COL area, and our house is def less than we could qualify for, and def less than DH's peers. Of course that's kind of turning out to be a bummer now as our kids start public school, but that's another thread. We relocated here from a much higher COL just so we could have our family w/ a SAHM. If we had stayed home I'd have still SAHM'ed, but in a condo vs a house, not as much extra cash, etc. If you can swing it job-wise and don't mind leaving family (which sucks!!!!!), a low COL makes a big difference.

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#7 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 08:38 AM
 
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We live in a decent COL place, but we pay $1287 for our mortgage (4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a MIL house that is 900 sq ft and is now our honey processing/meat processing/milk processing/sewing/art house and we put a pool table in there).  It's alot, and some months harder than others, but we make it work because we love our home.  We bought out here though because we wanted so badly to homestead.  We have almost 5 acres, and live near nothing fun, lol.  Dh and our oldest dd drive 45 minutes each way to work (they work together).  They carpool.  We don't go out to eat.  We don't go on expensive vacations (the last one we went on was to go to KY to scatter MILs ashes and we drove and camped.  We paid for it by scrapping out all the junk I gripe about my dh dragging home and it gave us $600!).  Dh does sidejobs (HVAC), and as far as saving $ on home maintenance, my dh can fix a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. (that is a real biggie!) We barter for lots of stuff (we barter skills and food).  We try to find any way we can to make $ off of either our homestead products, or by flipping things we find (example:I found someone w/bee hives in their hangar.  I talked them into selling me most of them and I sold them on Craigslist.  We made $500 profit in a week on that deal, and got 12 free hive bodies for us.  We work our butts off and that's how we do it. 


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#8 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 09:58 AM
 
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We live in Canada, but the cost of living seems high to me.  I see people talking about $50 a week for groceries and think the must be eating flour (and maybe a few apples lol).  To make it work staying home we have saved up my maternity payments as a down payment on a house.  We will only get a house that is affordable on my husband's wage, so I think it will be a condo townhouse in not the most desirable, but not too dodgy part of town. We buy our vegetables/meat at the farmer's market (cheaper than grocery store) and stock up on dry stuff at the discount grocery store.  I buy day old bread from the bakery that is the same price as the yucky bread from the grocery.  I think our biggest money saver is that we don't have a car.  It's kind of a pain, but we cycle year round, and hey, no need for a gym pass.  I would also like to get a part time job, but my husband works shift work and some overtime on the weekends so I'm only availble on....Sundays...not great for scheduling.  I thought about babysitting a kid but with the twins and my 3yr old I just don't think I can do it.  So we cut back on stuff (car, no cable, line dry, don't use the air conditioning, put up plastic on windows in the winter to cut heating, use fire place, eat meat only 3-4 times per week, use the library etc).  It's tough, but having worked in a day care myself I think the lack of rushing and stress two working parents bring to a family is worth it.  Of course I saw many families who thrived with two working parents, it just wouldn't work in our family dynamic.


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#9 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 10:16 AM
 
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For us it's a combination of factors. We live in a city but the COL is pretty reasonable. We bought our house and put a fair amount of money down, thanks to an inheritance I'd been squirreling away. So our mortgage payment is very reasonable, under $700/month for a 3 bed/2 bath in a nice neighborhood. We both finished grad school before DS was born, I did a one year program with in-state tuition. Have some loans from that, but not too bad. DH went to a private university for two years but had an amazing scholarship, the stipend paid our bills while he was in school and it left him with no college debt. His degree enabled him to get a job that pays well, and after working there for two years we're about to move to a bigger house in the same neighborhood. We make some other sacrifices, like sharing one car (with a low monthly payment), but they don't really feel like sacrifices because it's how we've been living for years.

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#10 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 09:47 PM
 
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We moved 3000 miles away from all of our friends and family to a high cost of living area and my DH's "dream job". 

 

We feel very lucky that my DH has a job with a very high salary.  BUT, moving here was a huge sacrafice in terms of family and friends and support system.  I'm not sure if I would do it again.

 

I think about moving back all the time.  With DH's time at "dream job," under his belt, I'm sure he could find another job closer to home.  I have to admit though, that it's the benefits that make it difficult to leave.  Our health insurance is amazing.

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#11 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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I have been a SAHM for 10 years, so our housing and any other costs have always been based upon DH's income (which, has gone up over the years, luckily). 

 

If we had settled into life with two incomes for a decade and then decided to have kids and a stay at home parent, we would have struggled, I'm sure, to cut our income in half and still keep our standard of living. 

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#12 of 49 Old 06-09-2011, 11:10 PM
 
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When we lived in a high COL area, I "worked" to bring in income. Sometimes I cleaned houses, sometimes I baby-sat, sometimes I full time nannied to bring in money but brought DS1 with me, or later had the child I cared for in my home when I had DS2 as well. We couldn't make it on DH's income alone. We could now, as he's stepped up considerably as far as income is concerned. But before, it wasn't mathematically possible. 

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#13 of 49 Old 06-10-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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We live in a pretty moderate COL area, but it is increasing.

 

We don't have a mortgage now, but I stayed home when we did, at one point even covering two mortgages until we sold our old house.  It was very, very tight, but we managed.  For a while I did a little bit of babysitting at home, which covered maybe 2/3 of our grocery costs and so saved us a decent chunk of money there.  I would like to do that again, but we need to get the house back in order after moving and take care of the poison ivy in the back yard before we do that.

 

Ultimately, how we did it is: We lived Very Frugally.  Frugal to the point that most people thought we were flat out crazy.  We minimized driving and travelling.  We radically simplified our eating.  We didn't pay for entertainment, ever.  At that time we had limited local calling, no cell phones, and dialup internet.  We looked for things we wanted in free places first, and then the thrift stores, and if it wasn't available, we waited until it was.  I kept an eye on the thrift store so I could buy a head for the children's clothing, so that we didn't hit a point where we suddenly needed certain items and sizes and had to buy them new because they didn't happen to be in stock in thrift stores at just that moment.  We homeschool using a state cyberschool, so curric. is free, we have a school computer for the kids, and partially subsidized internet.  We make do with annoyances until we have the money to fix them, rather than go into debt to deal with them.  If push comes to shove, we may let one of our cars sit in the drive way until we have the money to pay for inspection (at the end of this month, unless dh gets a job, I will be vanless. *sigh*.  But only temporarily).

 

Like a previous poster said, we base our lifestyle on whatever dh's income is at the moment.  And if his income increases, we still carefully limit ourselves so that if there is a loss of income later on, we will have savings and not have difficulty "shifting down" to accomodate that.

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#14 of 49 Old 06-10-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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I'd love it if you would expound here.  I probably already do this, but would love to know what your definition is.

 

We also make do with annoyances until we can (or more likely for us, have time) deal with it, pay for it, whatever.  Some people don't get how some things can not bother me, but eh, it is what it is.  So what if I have a few tiles messed up in my kitchen and hallway?  It's my fault since I'm the one who laid the tile, lol.  There's lots of things, though, but eventually everything ends up getting tended to.

Quote:

Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

 

  We radically simplified our eating. 


 

 


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#15 of 49 Old 06-10-2011, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies, everyone! How you all make it work really makes me think.

 

I should have put more of a background in my original post, but here goes:

I'm finishing up graduate school at the end of the year. DH and I want to find new jobs and move to another state around this time. In a few years, we'll be TTC and I would like to be a SAHM once we have our first babe. It looks like our current area has a 8.9% higher COL than the rest of the country. I think it's kind of high, but I'm also used to it since I've lived in this area for nearly my whole life. I am worried about living on one income in a few years, but I think if we start planning now, we'll be okay.

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#16 of 49 Old 06-11-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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Simplified eating:  For me that meant holding in check my love of new recipes and fabulous meaty foods from all over the world.  lol.gif

 

I feel guilty if I don't serve a huge varity, with a dish and several sides at every meal.  I thought I was failing my family making spaghetti once a week (and making them eat leftover spaghetti too), rather than once a month, interspersed with all kinds of other things.  Fortunately my husband is not a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I could cut down on that expense without making him suffer.  The kids really don't care, to tell the truth.  It's just my inner guilt machine that made me think that way.  1 lb of ground turkey will end up part of 2-3 meals.  The 3 pack of chicken breasts is for three meals on my menu. We get protein from lentils and other beans (cheap), eggs (I watch sales), cheese (on sale), yogurt (on sale), etc.

 

We don't do organic.  Someday, maybe.  But for now we do the best we can.

 

We have oats or muffins for breakfast, with a side of whatever fruit is on sale, either canned or fresh.

Lunches are either pb&j, or leftovers.  With carrot sticks.  Every day.  Boring, but it's food.

We eat the same basics for suppers every week, though I try to change recipes using the same basic ingredients (it's amazing what you can do with lentils, lol).

 

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#17 of 49 Old 06-11-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

Simplified eating:  For me that meant holding in check my love of new recipes and fabulous meaty foods from all over the world.  lol.gif

 

I feel guilty if I don't serve a huge varity, with a dish and several sides at every meal.  I thought I was failing my family making spaghetti once a week (and making them eat leftover spaghetti too), rather than once a month, interspersed with all kinds of other things.  Fortunately my husband is not a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I could cut down on that expense without making him suffer.  The kids really don't care, to tell the truth.  It's just my inner guilt machine that made me think that way.  1 lb of ground turkey will end up part of 2-3 meals.  The 3 pack of chicken breasts is for three meals on my menu. We get protein from lentils and other beans (cheap), eggs (I watch sales), cheese (on sale), yogurt (on sale), etc.

 

We don't do organic.  Someday, maybe.  But for now we do the best we can.

 

We have oats or muffins for breakfast, with a side of whatever fruit is on sale, either canned or fresh.

Lunches are either pb&j, or leftovers.  With carrot sticks.  Every day.  Boring, but it's food.

We eat the same basics for suppers every week, though I try to change recipes using the same basic ingredients (it's amazing what you can do with lentils, lol).

 


I'd love to hear your ideas for lentil meals.  I have one lentil stew recipe I like, but haven't tried any other lentil dishes and really want to eat them more often!
 

 


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#18 of 49 Old 06-11-2011, 06:39 PM
 
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I live in a fairly low cost of living area.  I have a nice 3 bd 2 ba apartment and pay $715 for it.  I'm single, so obviously there's just one income.  I do receive food stamps.  My rent is darn near 50% of my take home pay.  I buy cars outright so I have no car payment, I just have to save for them, or use my tax return for them.  So I do that every few years.  I don't have cable or internet (I use a friend's, my mom's or the library).  My bills total about $275 and that's for cell phone, water, insurance, gas and electric.  My other household expenses are like $20 a month.  I go easy on the TP and other disposable products. LOL  I try to get what we need at thrift shops but I also don't hesitate to buy new from the store, particularly the clearance racks.  Gas has been killing me lately though, at $60 a tank every 8 days.  In my area, you can easily live on $2500 a month without assistance (except maybe medical if your job doesn't supply it).  Even food is fairly cheap.

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#19 of 49 Old 06-12-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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We moved across the counrty to a low cost of living area far away from everyone we know.  But it is so remote that we NEED to take fancy vacations in order to preserve our sanity so no real savings there. 


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#20 of 49 Old 06-12-2011, 08:59 AM
 
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I got pg right after school so even though I worked right up till my due date, we put all my money into paying off our car and just never got use to two incomes. We lived very frugally and lived in a tiny one bedroom apt till our oldest was almost 5 yrs.

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#21 of 49 Old 06-12-2011, 09:02 AM
 
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We live in a moderately high cost of living area.  It's an affluent suburb, but we live in the "poorer" part of it, which is actually some of the most economical housing in the whole metro.  We have kept our housing costs down to a quarter or a third of a single gross income, ever since we were first married.  That's really been the key for us in getting out of debt and keeping me home with the children (and surviving a layoff as well).  My husband makes a decent, but not great, income at his job.  Our neighbors are mostly families with two not-so-great incomes, so it's pretty quiet (dead) around here during the day.

 

I actually calculated cost per square foot when we were looking for an apartment--we're home all day and need SPACE, not high-end finishes.  We moved much closer to my husband's work, to save on gas and on commuting stress.  We took a three bedroom apartment when we only had one child, so we'd be able to stay a few years before we outgrew it (moving is expensive, in both time and money).

 

Our lifestyle reflects that we've prioritized having children over buying a home or anything else; partly because of our ages.  (Running out of time on the biological clock.)  With only one income, we're priced out of buying a home here, but it's not where we want to live long-term, anyway.

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#22 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 05:40 AM
 
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Quote:

I'd love to hear your ideas for lentil meals.  I have one lentil stew recipe I like, but haven't tried any other lentil dishes and really want to eat them more often!
 

I think our favorite is Taco Lentils.  We've also had them in pilaf, and honey-garlic baked, and as the filling in samoosas. :)

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#23 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 07:25 AM
 
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We make it work.  DH earns a decent income, but the area has a high COL.  We plan to purchase a home in a couple years, but until then we deal with renting something decent but inexpensive while we save a downpayment that will keep the monthly expense from kicking our butts. We have one newer vehicle that is paid off, and DH drives an older (but  reliable) car with good gas milage.  It's one thing if he has a car breakdown while it's just him, with the kids, it's very different if the family vehicle leaves us stranded. 

 

We eat what we can organically, but not everything, and I meal plan around sales. 

 

I happily thrift/craigslist/etc for most things. 

 

We save.  For us, it is a priority to establish a large amount in savings in case something happens. We don't want to have to rely on debt. 

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#24 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 07:45 AM
 
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I agree with the advice to buy a house with 1 income in mind. DH bought this house before ds and I moved in, so he obviously did it with his income in mind and not relying on any other money. Over the years (dh has owned this house for 7 or 8 years now) his income has gone up and his mortgage has gone down (by refinancing). When I'm working, my money is just basically for extras. I've been here for 4 years now and for the first 3 years I worked pretty steady, part time. This last year I changed jobs to be a substitute para for the school district so I chose when I wanted to work. When this baby is born I'll be mostly a SAHM (might work a day here and there as a substitute, but not more than 2 or 3 days a month).

 

When we go to buy our next house we will do the same thing- buy it with dh's income in mind and not mine. We also don't take ds's child support into consideration when making financial decisions. That's considered "bonus money".


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#25 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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I think the key really is to budget and make choices early on based on one income.  When you live in an area where a cheap 3 br apartment is over 1K/month it's a harsh reality that that one income had better be pretty decent. 

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#26 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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Re: simplifying eating and lentil recipes....  To the pp who asked about lentils, there is an awesome thread floating around here (and compilation of said thread) entitled, "Under $2 meal ideas" in the frugality and finances section.  There are tons of lentil recipes/ideas there!  We love lentils.  For us, it is a nice break from meat.  We eat alot of meat, but for us it is one of the most economical parts of our diet.  We raise rabbits for the table, we have chickens and guineas for eggs and meat, goat and duck is our red meat, and we get pork for the cost of butchering it (we do all the butchering and processing so mostly just bags and water is what we use to do it, plus the initial cost of knives and a foodsaver, which have since paid for themselves many times over).  So yeah, we eat lots of meat.  Anyway, so for me to simplify our eating has been hard since there's always meat that needs to be cooked/deboned/etc.  I have been using our meat differently, and have begun making mostly one-dish meals.  For me, time=$ since we have $ making projects going on at all times, esp. w/keeping bees this time of year.  I've been making lots of grilled pizzas. I can use bits of different veggies and grilled pizzas use WAY less cheese.  I use up bits of leftover meat.  I try to pick one day a week to smoke meat to use the rest of the week, since it is an all-day project keeping the temp right on the smoker.  I use to feel guilty if I had less than 4 dishes per meal to serve, but have realized how expensive it was getting and everyone still seems perfectly satisfied.  I'm having my oldest dd make a nice big meal once a week and that helps us not feel deprived of fancy cookin', lol.  Last night she made doro wat w/rabbit, extra boiled eggs, a huge salad, and lots of watermelon.  I don't know where I'm going with this except that everyone has different things available and we mamas have to do the best we can with what we have.  My garden stinks this year and i just wish I had someone with whom I could barter meat or honey for veggies!  It'll be an awful fruit year, too here.


Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#27 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 01:10 PM
 
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My dh is the SAHP.  I have a professional degree and a good income.  We weren't huge spenders before the kids, but, between pre-school tuition and the work on our house, our expenses have grown.  We live in a high COL area, but in a crappy neighborhood that was on the cusp of gentrification before the market fell out.  The great thing, though, is that our mortgage is only $1000 and the other household expenses (not including property taxes) run only about $600/ mo (gas, water, electric, phone and insurance).  I am now a firm believer in high efficiency appliances and toilets.  Our electric bill is less than $30 mos (before turning on a/c) and we wash diapers daily.  Our water bill is only $40 every two months.

 

We have also benefited from my mom stepping in and offering to finance things for us at either 0 or 2% (rehab costs at 0% and a car at 2%).  We've been driving our paid off cars for 4 and 5 years respectively, but will need a new vehicle to accommodate 3 car seats in the winter.

 

We are also doing better on groceries between our meat and produce CSA's and paying more attention to our waste.  Clothing is either bought through discounted opportunities, thrift stores or end of season sales.

 

This way, we're still able to max out on the 401(K) and maintain a small sinking fund/emergency fund.

 

But, the house rehab work is not fully completed.  Since the major work has been completed, we have been doing what remains in chunks as the yearly bonus is paid.


Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
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#28 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 01:43 PM
 
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We have two kids and I don't see housing as the issue in regards to being able to stay home. Food is our major expense, especially if with trying to be mindful and not eat junk. We have ZERO debt, and this is the number one reason we have been able to make this work. I graduated college, my honey did not, yet he is the working and although I can go back and make more than him, I have no intention of doing so at this time. I sell our no longer needed items on ebay (when I'm motivated enough to do so) to earn extra money. And. after a job loss we caved and applied for assistance, and honestly, all pride aside it really helped. Had we not done that we would have drained savings and then really been in trouble. Now he makes decent money, hours are long but he makes enough to cover rent and all our bills, but the sacrafice I guess is our ability to save like before. When I was working I would bank 75% of my paycheck because I knew we would need it someday. I really think if you want to stay home badly enough, you will find a way to make it work. I really think it just comes down to being debt free, and savvy in the way you spend money on necesseties.


Ma (26) to a happy boy 04.07 and due with another 01.11 ~ finally marrying my HS sweetie 02.12!
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#29 of 49 Old 06-13-2011, 11:16 PM
 
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I used to make double dh's income and lost my job before we had kids (I was in banking in NYC and it was just before 9/11  greensad.gif ).  Even at that, the adjustment was ROUGH.  I went down to half-salary for a year before I went on unemployment--which was literally 16% of my prior salary.

 

ROUGH!!!

 

It took several years for us to adjust to where my missing income wasn't a serious problem.  We bought our house with one income in mind: mine.  We didn't plan to have kids, so this was fine.  And when I lost it, we DIDN'T have kids.  But I also didn't have my degree or certifications and suddenly the market was flooded with the fallout unemployed of 9/11.  So I wasn't without work willingly.  The step-down was fast and if not for the fact that we bought our house below our means and didn't have a ton of other debt, we'd have been in bankruptcy or foreclosure (or both).

 

Dh now makes a relatively good salary (albeit still less than I made 10 years ago).  And although we took a bath on our house when we moved, we weren't under water on it--and we bought a tiny foreclosure that cost us roughly a year of his income (but needed work).  So we're more comfortable now.

 

My long-winded point is that it wasn't one thing that made it possible.  And it wasn't a short-term journey to it being okay.  But it's possible.  Have hope.


Heather - Wife , Mommy  & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant 
 
Dairy, soy & corn free with limited gluten... yes, really. And journeying towards peace.  Blogging about both.
 
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices...
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#30 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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i left my job last year to become a sahm.  i wanted to do it sooner than that, but we had to make certain adjustments to our lifestyle to make it happen.  when we bought our house several years ago, we bought in a small town in very low cost area, and we bought a house that was cheap enough that we could still afford it on 1 income (even though we had 2 incomes at the time).  then, once we had kids, we just had to get rid of other debt like car/loan payments, etc.  my husband does not make a lot of money (i made more than him), so we live frugally when we have to....shopping at yard sales, basic cable, etc.  i dont particularly love where i live (the part of the country OR the area), but it definately provides me with the opportunity to live the lifestyle that i desire (staying home, homeschooling, etc.)

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