SAHMing on a tight budget - support thread? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 43 Old 04-23-2012, 09:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi guys. I have been working part-time since DS was 6mo, usually 10-20 hours per week. With twins on the way, as well as me really wanting to be at home fulltime, DH and I have decided that me SAHMing is the best option for us. I am super excited and should be officially done with work by the summer. 

 

Financially, it is going to be very tough for us because we live in a high cost-of-living area and DH works in arts/entertainment that just does not pay that well, but which he loves and is great at. DH's job is based here for now and as it is he has a long commute just so we can afford more than a 1 bedroom. We have always lived modestly and like it that way. We are also debtfree with the exception of our mortgage and a small student loan. Our spending is fine, it's housing costs that eat up most of budget. (We bought the smallest/lowest cost home we could find here, a 2bed condo, and actually our motrgage is not bad at all. It is the property tax and HOA fees that kill us, doubling our housing costs - we could not find anything in our price range without a HOA.) Second is our transportation costs (and DH takes public transport). Close third is food and in winter, utilities.

 

The cost of living here is such that most people who SAHP have much higher incomes than we do, and people tend to assume that we do too. I get a lot of "Wow, that's great if you can afford it" or "I'd love to stay home but I have to work." Well, we can *just* afford it, and we can't afford anything else either. If I were to work part-time, it would not cover part-time childcare for two babies. If both of us were to work full-time (which we do not want, just our personal choice but we are not okay with full-time childcare), then one of us would be working to pay childcare anyway. And due to our career fields, it is likely that we would not both find fulltime positions in the same location. Right now DH is gone 12+ hours a day 7-7 and usually later, so my hypothetical job would also need to be flexibe enough to deal with that, and I would likely be in charge of all the second shift stuff. That kind of life is not for us, we'd rather make do with less. But people don't tend to see that we have old cars and can't afford extracurriculars. They think we are privileged. And I do, in fact, feel very fortunate, I am not complaining. DH and I are proud of what we're doing. I just have no one to talk to about our actual situation.

 

Can anyone relate? Want to share tips, thoughts, ideas?

 

I know there is a low-income thread in the frugality forum, but we are not really in that situation. Our income is very low for this area, less than half the median, but we have a steady income and can afford our home, food, utilities, gas, and all necessities. Also, I do plan to return to work at some point in the future at which time our income will potentially jump a lot. 


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#2 of 43 Old 04-23-2012, 09:51 AM
 
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I can totally relate. We aren't really low-income (comfortably middle class, I'd say), but we are otherwise in a similar position as you. No debt other than the mortgage and less than 2K in medical debt, which we are slowly paying off. We don't have a credit card or student loans. Both of our cars are paid for.

 

Like you, people seem to think this means we're rich or something. Um, no.

 

We seem incapable of saving. We do have a little emergency fund that we have been really good about not touching, but saving for our kids college, or home improvement stuff, or vacations? Doesn't happen. We could save about 200-300 a month, but something always, always comes up to eat away that money (car or medical issues, usually). I know it is a huge stressor for DH, but I can't let myself worry about it too much or I'll go insane.

 

The main way I see that I can help out is cooking more at home. I am 32 weeks pregnant and unfortunately my energy levels are at all-time lows, but I know I need to try harder. We also have a few baby expenses coming up that we cannot avoid, so I really don't see us saving much, if any money until the summer is over.

 

We also put our daughter in extracurricular activities (she will be in a half day PreK program this June while the baby is a newborn, 3 days a week), and I want to put her in swimming lessons this summer as well. These aren't technically "needs" but man, I need the break, and I think she does too.

 

I am also in the process of taking much better care of my health so that our health expenses aren't so bad. Improving our diet is a huge part of that. It wasn't bad to begin with, and we eat mostly vegetarian, but there is definitely room for improvement. Unfortunately both DD and I have horrible seasonal allergies. We've spent SO MUCH MONEY this spring on doctor's visits and medications. How do you avoid stuff like that? Hers are so bad that without 2 allergy meds she has sleep apnea at night.

 

Man, I dunno. I know we need to be saving but it seems like everything is against us, you know? I would appreciate a support group, though. This was a good idea.


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#3 of 43 Old 04-23-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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I am SO GLAD you started this thread!!! smile.gif  I was actually looking for something similar this morning.  I started typing a response, but my one-year-old promptly deleted it. orngtongue.gif  Here goes round 2...

 

We are in the exact same boat.  DH makes a modest income, and we are blessed to have health insurance - but living on one income is a choice that has come with alot of sacrifices.  The majority of my paycheck would have gone to daycare (the cheapest one in town), and I was not in a great work situation...so we kept crunching numbers and crunching numbers, until finally, we threw the numbers out and took the leap (on a prayer!).  

 

I know that we are so incredibly fortunate to have this option available to us - there are so many low income families that make do with much less, and work harder for it every day.  That said, we still have to be really vigilant to make this work.  

 

We still live in a small house in the city, that needs alot of work (as in, the floors are ripped up and the paint is peeling, not "I don't like the kitchen cabinets" or "we need new drapes" lol).  We drive cars that are 10+ years old.  We don't have money for travel, for concerts/festivals, or for expensive phones or other material things.  Our savings are tiny.  Some things that help...

 

  • Cooking meals at home (whenever possible - hard to do with an active toddler!).  We rarely eat meals out or get take out unless we have a really great deal/coupon.  We eat alot of canned soup, frozen meals (on sale), and pasta with sauce when really cooking isn't possible.
  • Cloth diapering has saved us $$$ (we use plain cotton or hemp fitteds/prefolds with a couple wool covers - much of it used, and will probably be re-sellable) and ECing adds to that by reducing laundry costs.
  • We grown veggies/herbs in our garden in the summer (fortunate to have a yard for this).
  • Children's books, my books, clothes and other household items typically come from used bookstores or thrift/consignment stores (great kids books can cost just a quarter or two!).  We are lucky to have inherited alot of well-loved hand-me-downs from friends and relatives as well.
  • Typical things like going to the cheapest gas station or putting coupons, sales, grocery store customer cards, and credit card cash rewards to the max. possible use have gone from being "good ideas" to "absolutely essential."  
  • Cutting out all "nickel and dime" expenses - like lattés, lunches out, or random small purchases.  We have to really keep on top of this spending, and make sure everything is prioritized and planned for.
  • We don't have cable (never have, but we really limit TV watching nowadays...).  Our entertainment budget is 0 - we don't rent or go out to see movies, etc.  There is plenty on PBS! smile.gif
  • Looking for free, fun stuff to do - going to parks, going for walks, going to the library for storytime, etc.  There are some free playgroups around (at places that also offer paid programs) that I think we will try to get in on.
  • We try to limit driving as much as possible - I try to walk with DS to as many places as I can, and organize/consolidate errands (this is also a good bet since DS is high needs - too much running around sends him over the edge!)
  • Making our own cleaners.  I'm about to try my hand at making laundry detergent next.
  • I've cut waaaay back on personal care items.  I'm down to shampoo, soap, and one lotion (for face and body).  I do still prefer natural products while breastfeeding, so I try to get them on sale.  I've also found that the baby lotion often costs way less than the adult version - AND it's gentle enough to double as moisturizer, and works for DS!  3-in-1. 
  • We really watch energy costs - turning off lights, setting the thermostat higher/lower depending on season, washing clothes in cold water, etc.
  • Making sure any presents from insistent relatives/friends are geared toward things we really need, instead of random stuff.

 

Anyway, that may all be really redundant for you, but those are some of the things we work on.  I am always trying to find ways to live more simply - or more things I could make at a lower cost.  Like alicewyf, any extra seems to get eaten right up, but I'm thankful we have it there to use!

 

It is incredibly frustrating to talk to others about.  It was maddening when I left my job, because co-workers and friends with small children would say, "OMG that is so unfair!  I'm so jealous!  We both just HAVE to work, we don't have a choice/that luxury/etc."  Now, for some people that might honestly be true, but THESE were all the people who went out and bought a brand new gas-guzzling SUV and a big, brand new house in a far away, brand new suburb before the double pink lines on the pregnancy test were dry! eyesroll.gif

 

That's fine if they want those things, but I wish they would recognize they are making a CHOICE.  I do know that we are so very fortunate to be in the position we are in, to even have the choice available, but at the same time - we are also here because we decided to make it a priority, kwim?  We are not rolling in the dough - we are living a very different lifestyle than they are (or than the "middle class norm") because of our values and priorities. 

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#4 of 43 Old 04-23-2012, 02:30 PM
 
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YES! This is similar to our situation too. We're also in a high COL so even though we are doing well we have to stay on a budget for me to be a sahm.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alicewyf View Post

 

We seem incapable of saving. We do have a little emergency fund that we have been really good about not touching, but saving for our kids college, or home improvement stuff, or vacations? Doesn't happen. We could save about 200-300 a month, but something always, always comes up to eat away that money (car or medical issues, usually). I know it is a huge stressor for DH, but I can't let myself worry about it too much or I'll go insane.

 

It's the same for us. We can pay for most unexpected expenses, but I would like to not have to keep wiping out, then rebuilding, then wiping out our savings again.

 

We pretty much do what pickle listed. I also like to read up on the frugality board threads just to keep me motivated. If I'm feeling particularly attracted to something to buy (usually online) I cruise over to those boards and it helps me reign in the unnecessary spending.


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#5 of 43 Old 04-23-2012, 08:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

I am SO GLAD you started this thread!!! smile.gif  I was actually looking for something similar this morning.  I started typing a response, but my one-year-old promptly deleted it. orngtongue.gif  Here goes round 2...

 

We are in the exact same boat.  DH makes a modest income, and we are blessed to have health insurance - but living on one income is a choice that has come with alot of sacrifices.  The majority of my paycheck would have gone to daycare (the cheapest one in town), and I was not in a great work situation...so we kept crunching numbers and crunching numbers, until finally, we threw the numbers out and took the leap (on a prayer!).  

 

I know that we are so incredibly fortunate to have this option available to us - there are so many low income families that make do with much less, and work harder for it every day.  That said, we still have to be really vigilant to make this work.  

 

We still live in a small house in the city, that needs alot of work (as in, the floors are ripped up and the paint is peeling, not "I don't like the kitchen cabinets" or "we need new drapes" lol).  We drive cars that are 10+ years old.  We don't have money for travel, for concerts/festivals, or for expensive phones or other material things.  Our savings are tiny.  Some things that help...

 

  • Cooking meals at home (whenever possible - hard to do with an active toddler!).  We rarely eat meals out or get take out unless we have a really great deal/coupon.  We eat alot of canned soup, frozen meals (on sale), and pasta with sauce when really cooking isn't possible.
  • Cloth diapering has saved us $$$ (we use plain cotton or hemp fitteds/prefolds with a couple wool covers - much of it used, and will probably be re-sellable) and ECing adds to that by reducing laundry costs.
  • We grown veggies/herbs in our garden in the summer (fortunate to have a yard for this).
  • Children's books, my books, clothes and other household items typically come from used bookstores or thrift/consignment stores (great kids books can cost just a quarter or two!).  We are lucky to have inherited alot of well-loved hand-me-downs from friends and relatives as well.
  • Typical things like going to the cheapest gas station or putting coupons, sales, grocery store customer cards, and credit card cash rewards to the max. possible use have gone from being "good ideas" to "absolutely essential."  
  • Cutting out all "nickel and dime" expenses - like lattés, lunches out, or random small purchases.  We have to really keep on top of this spending, and make sure everything is prioritized and planned for.
  • We don't have cable (never have, but we really limit TV watching nowadays...).  Our entertainment budget is 0 - we don't rent or go out to see movies, etc.  There is plenty on PBS! smile.gif
  • Looking for free, fun stuff to do - going to parks, going for walks, going to the library for storytime, etc.  There are some free playgroups around (at places that also offer paid programs) that I think we will try to get in on.
  • We try to limit driving as much as possible - I try to walk with DS to as many places as I can, and organize/consolidate errands (this is also a good bet since DS is high needs - too much running around sends him over the edge!)
  • Making our own cleaners.  I'm about to try my hand at making laundry detergent next.
  • I've cut waaaay back on personal care items.  I'm down to shampoo, soap, and one lotion (for face and body).  I do still prefer natural products while breastfeeding, so I try to get them on sale.  I've also found that the baby lotion often costs way less than the adult version - AND it's gentle enough to double as moisturizer, and works for DS!  3-in-1. 
  • We really watch energy costs - turning off lights, setting the thermostat higher/lower depending on season, washing clothes in cold water, etc.
  • Making sure any presents from insistent relatives/friends are geared toward things we really need, instead of random stuff.

 

Anyway, that may all be really redundant for you, but those are some of the things we work on.  I am always trying to find ways to live more simply - or more things I could make at a lower cost.  Like alicewyf, any extra seems to get eaten right up, but I'm thankful we have it there to use!

 

It is incredibly frustrating to talk to others about.  It was maddening when I left my job, because co-workers and friends with small children would say, "OMG that is so unfair!  I'm so jealous!  We both just HAVE to work, we don't have a choice/that luxury/etc."  Now, for some people that might honestly be true, but THESE were all the people who went out and bought a brand new gas-guzzling SUV and a big, brand new house in a far away, brand new suburb before the double pink lines on the pregnancy test were dry! eyesroll.gif

 

That's fine if they want those things, but I wish they would recognize they are making a CHOICE.  I do know that we are so very fortunate to be in the position we are in, to even have the choice available, but at the same time - we are also here because we decided to make it a priority, kwim?  We are not rolling in the dough - we are living a very different lifestyle than they are (or than the "middle class norm") because of our values and priorities. 

 

These are some great suggestions. I need to talk to DH about cancelling Netflix as I do not really see it is a need. We have Amazon Prime and can watch many shows free through that, and get many other perks as well. We (actually just me, my DH is really good at this) could do a better job of utilizing the library instead of buying books. I do have a price limit and usually buy books for my kindle, but the library is still cheaper! We also use birthdays to get needed items. DH gets his work clothes at birthdays and Christmas from his parents. We couldn't afford to dress him nicely otherwise. I usually use my birthday money to replenish my wardrobe for the year as well.

 

It is really, really frustrating to talk to others about. We know a couple (actually they are former friends, and this is more my husband's reason for not really wanting to be around them anymore, not mine) who has an insane amount of school debt, but still does things like buy timeshares, go on vacations, buy expensive firearms, adopt pets on a whim, and decide they're going to have an expensive homebirth (almost 5K in our area for the best midwives) likely not covered by their insurance. Then the wife complains that they can't afford for her to stay home with their future kids. Um, that's a lifestyle choice, honey. If a homebirth and vacations are more important to you than being able to stay home with your kids, then that's a personal choice. And you have to live with it. I guess it's the complaining that pisses me off more than anything else, and it incenses DH. We work hard and go without many things so that I can stay home. And other people feel entitled to it, jealous, and want to keep their lifestyle perks all at the same time.

 


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Prayerfully expecting our little BOY in June of 2012! And so excited to be cd.gif and bfinfant.gifagain!

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#6 of 43 Old 04-24-2012, 09:08 AM
 
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Wow can I relate.  I have been a sahm for 15 years.  I can't tell you how many times we've been faced w/people being jealous and the truth is they really don't get how we live.  If anyone really understood what it takes to maintain our homestead and family on what my dh makes they would probably change their mind.  My dh makes what I think of as a great salary.  If you look on the charts in the ER waiting room, though, we are supposed to be living in poverty!  Some people see that we have 2 houses and think we must have alot of money.  What they don't realize is that that 2nd house (on our property next to my main house) was my MILs house before she died.  It was built years ago so I could care for 2 old ladies, who are both deceased now.  So now we might have a cool game room/guest house w/a cheap pool table and an extra washer and dryer, etc., but that is space we have to pay for!  If we want to use it in the summer, we have to use the a/c.  If we want to hang out there in the winter, we have to heat it, use the lights, etc...  People see that we eat really well, but they don't see our feed bill at the farm store, or the time it takes each day to care for said animals.  They see that we always have lots of food, but they don't see my grocery bill (which is half what it was a couple of years ago, but still!) or see how much time it takes me to cook so much from scratch.  They don't see how much time it takes me to grow our vegetables, either.  Or to pick our fruits and then process them.  If we didn't do things the way we do we could not afford our little homestead.  They see a cabinet full of home made jam or a freezer full of frozen berries, or a cabinet full of dehydrated foods, but they don't see how much time it takes to forage for those foods and then processing them....Would it be easier to just go buy this stuff?  Sure, but we couldn't afford gas if I did that.  People think I'm soooo *lucky* to be able to be home and homeschool, etc.  It's not luck.  It's planning and morals and standards we have for our children.  It's work, and hard work!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicky2 View Post It's planning and morals and standards we have for our children.  It's work, and hard work!

 

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#8 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 10:56 AM
 
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subbing! I'll be back later to introduce myself!

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#9 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chicky2 View Post

Wow can I relate.  I have been a sahm for 15 years.  I can't tell you how many times we've been faced w/people being jealous and the truth is they really don't get how we live.  If anyone really understood what it takes to maintain our homestead and family on what my dh makes they would probably change their mind.  My dh makes what I think of as a great salary.  If you look on the charts in the ER waiting room, though, we are supposed to be living in poverty!  Some people see that we have 2 houses and think we must have alot of money.  What they don't realize is that that 2nd house (on our property next to my main house) was my MILs house before she died.  It was built years ago so I could care for 2 old ladies, who are both deceased now.  So now we might have a cool game room/guest house w/a cheap pool table and an extra washer and dryer, etc., but that is space we have to pay for!  If we want to use it in the summer, we have to use the a/c.  If we want to hang out there in the winter, we have to heat it, use the lights, etc...  People see that we eat really well, but they don't see our feed bill at the farm store, or the time it takes each day to care for said animals.  They see that we always have lots of food, but they don't see my grocery bill (which is half what it was a couple of years ago, but still!) or see how much time it takes me to cook so much from scratch.  They don't see how much time it takes me to grow our vegetables, either.  Or to pick our fruits and then process them.  If we didn't do things the way we do we could not afford our little homestead.  They see a cabinet full of home made jam or a freezer full of frozen berries, or a cabinet full of dehydrated foods, but they don't see how much time it takes to forage for those foods and then processing them....Would it be easier to just go buy this stuff?  Sure, but we couldn't afford gas if I did that.  People think I'm soooo *lucky* to be able to be home and homeschool, etc.  It's not luck.  It's planning and morals and standards we have for our children.  It's work, and hard work!

 

Hey Chicky2, I'd love to know if you can recommend any resources for people who want to try a "suburban" type of homesteading (we have a fairly large yard but cannot keep livestock due to our HOA). When I lived in PA growing anything seemed so easy, but in this rocky soil down in the hill country the learning curve for gardening is very steep. My family effortlessly maintained a huge garden in PA and we were able to can and freeze so much food. We also were able to buy/trade all of our meat from area farmers (we traded our neighbor half a cow, free deer processing, and hay for our horses and he was able to use our 70 acres for farming), even though we kept no livestock, and we saved lots of money. For the first time EVER since moving to S. TX my garden is doing okay this year, but it is very small. I noticed you live in N. TX so I know there is a difference, but any resources you could point me to do would be so appreciated. I know you're busy and I don't expect you to hold my hand!


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Prayerfully expecting our little BOY in June of 2012! And so excited to be cd.gif and bfinfant.gifagain!

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#10 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 11:55 AM
 
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I am/was a SAHM on a tight budget. I'm not sure what I qualify as now because I just started a part time waitressing job. I am home all day with CJ until about 4 or 4.30 when she goes to grandmas for an hour before dad comes home. We *had* only a mortgage for debt and our car was paid for but we ended up being forced to finance a used car (car was my HS grad 'gift' until my parents decided they didn't like how I was living my life, then it "wasn't my car" anymore) and we also had to rip up most of the flooring on our first floor and are having to finance the new flooring. This waitressing job is temporary. I am hoping to stay for 6 months and have everything paid off by then (except mortgage of course). Oh yeah, I also found out 2 days ago that I am expecting #3 :-) so it won't be so bad to be debt free by then.

 

As far as living goes, we live in a pretty low cost-of-living area and also live on 3 acres which lets us raise meat and egg chickens and have a large garden, and my IL's are dairy farmers so we have free raw milk, and ground beef when they butcher a cow. And to be honest, if we didn't have these luxuries I would *have* to be working at least PT all the time.

 

I just started this job last Friday and have so far worked Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues, today, and will work a double on Sat, and a morning shift on Sun. It's quite a transition! I am very very thankful for the job and to be able to hopefully knock out $7,500 of debt in 6 months and hopefully have a $1,000 or more in our savings before the new baby comes, but I am already looking forward to being a full time SAHM again. Also, it is helpful that I get a "shift meal" at 50% off when I work. Helps keep my pregnant belly full!


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#11 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 12:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alicewyf View Post

 

 

Hey Chicky2, I'd love to know if you can recommend any resources for people who want to try a "suburban" type of homesteading (we have a fairly large yard but cannot keep livestock due to our HOA). When I lived in PA growing anything seemed so easy, but in this rocky soil down in the hill country the learning curve for gardening is very steep. My family effortlessly maintained a huge garden in PA and we were able to can and freeze so much food. We also were able to buy/trade all of our meat from area farmers (we traded our neighbor half a cow, free deer processing, and hay for our horses and he was able to use our 70 acres for farming), even though we kept no livestock, and we saved lots of money. For the first time EVER since moving to S. TX my garden is doing okay this year, but it is very small. I noticed you live in N. TX so I know there is a difference, but any resources you could point me to do would be so appreciated. I know you're busy and I don't expect you to hold my hand!

 


What kind of resources are you needing help with?  My garden is not doing so well (last year was a bust w/the drought!  We lost bees too) because of the army worms, but I'm replanting and crossing my crossables.  Are you looking at how to get free stuff?  If so, find my posts in the frugality and finances board for the contest that was recently done for frugal ideas.  I was one of the 3 winners and mine are mostly gardening related. Otherwise I'll see what I can help ya with!


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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#12 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't tell you how happy I am to have kindred spirits to share with! It has been a busy few days and I have so much I want to write, but just wanted to pop in and say hi. Such great suggestions already! I am super envious of those who can do a little homesteading. We have a backyard area but it is owned by the HOA, so we can't dig it up or fence it. Urgh. Okay, I'll be back, hopefully later on today.


Me + DH + DS ('07) + after a long and bumpy road, thrilled that our twin boys are finally here (DS2 & DS3, '12)

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#13 of 43 Old 04-25-2012, 04:27 PM
 
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I guess just more info on stuff that we can do at home to save money. I actually got inspired and I am attempting to make yogurt for the first time today (goat's milk, my daughter can't do dairy protein)! I do bake bread but it doesn't make good sandwich bread. Stuff like that, I suppose! Also any books that might be inspirational. I will definitely check out your posts! Thanks!


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#14 of 43 Old 04-26-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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Maybe if you know do something (like sewing,painting ....) you can do some stuff and try to sell them.

Or find a part time job with schedules that you want (like tupperware,stampin up,...) ou can work when your husband look after the babies!

 

Sorry for my bad english i'm french


SAHM of Callie (08/03/2009) and Cleo (03/15/2012).

bfinfant.gifsewmachine.giffemalesling.GIFfamilybed1.gifwinner.jpgcd.gif

 

 

I'm French so excuse my mistake

 

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#15 of 43 Old 04-26-2012, 02:12 PM
 
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I'm here tiphat.gif

A stay at home wife/mama for two years now. Boy, have we had a our financial challenges. In fact, we just got our cars renewal form and although it is still cruddy to shell over that 200 bucks, it won't break us as it has in the past. 

I have quite a few friends who think I live a life of luxury, & most respond similarly with "well if I had the money, I would stay at home too". I actually don't like when it is trivialized in such a way. We choose to not have the money, i.e. we don't have new cars, go on exotic vacations, nor will we be putting our kids in private school as many around here do. I don't really know how I would classify dh's income. It seems like a beautiful one to me (since at one point neither of us had a job after college) but in a high COL area, we still struggle.

We choose to have cable as Dh is a baseball fanatic. And we buy delicious food. But, that it about it. I never get new clothes unless my mama takes me, or I find a random thing at the thrift. 

Dh gets his dress clothes for bday & Christmas as well. For dd I swap a lot, buy used, etc. She doesn't have a lot of toys, but she could care less about toys anyways. 

 

I wish I had a little more money to get something like a garden under way. I also wish I had the money to buy this new baby all new diapers. shrug.gif


 

 

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#16 of 43 Old 08-09-2012, 09:38 PM
 
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I'm a sahm of two kids, DS is 3 1/2 and DD is 14mo. My husband brings home enough to pay the bills and put a miniscule amount of change in the bank. We lived in NYC (not Manhattan, but a pricey part of Queens) and moved to a cheaper apartment out on Long Island (out of the city, two counties away for non-NYers) because the rising cost of living in Queens didn't match his salary increase. It's tight, very tight, but staying home was actually more cost-effective for us. My old job instituted a pay freeze the year in 2009 when I left to have DS and hasn't lifted it yet. Between childcare costs, commuting, and professional development that my job required but didn't pay for, working would have been detrimental to our financial health!!! In NYC, a live-in nanny (often an illegal immigrant and, legal or not, usually paid less than live out) makes at least $24k; quality daycare centers for infants are about the same. We decided that it would be better for me to stay home with the kids and be poor than to have someone else do it and still be poor! 

 

Side note: I had a home birth for DD with one of the top midwives in NYC and, with insurance, cost LESS than what a hospital stay and ob would have.

 

The new apartment is cheaper (it is, however, crappier. I miss my large and spacious urban pre-war!!), but the area has a high COL; still, we make it work.There are no more corners to cut and we live simply (buy bulk grains, eat little meat, cook from scratch, don't by processed or pre-packaged foods, get kids stuff at Goodwill, no cable tv), but we do live. Local parks, beaches, and historic sites fill our weekends (tax dollars at work, people!!!). Costco is our best friend because it has the cheapest milk and bread prices around (and great deals on car loans!). Annual roadtrips are made to visit far-flung relatives or we use my husband's parents' timeshare (they say they can't afford to use it.... because they have to work to pay for the timeshare. I never understood why they got it in the first place but will happily benefit from their lapse in logic and common sense). I like what dovemama said about choosing not to have money. If my husband and I wanted to have money, we wouldn't have had kids!!!

 

Out of curiosity, is anyone else on here a sahm in an urban environment or lived as a sahm in an urban environment? I'm curious to see what others in that situation have done.

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#17 of 43 Old 08-14-2012, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey Witty, thanks for breathing new life into this thread - I have been meaning to do that for ages! Sounds like we have a lot in common. We are also in the tri-state/NYC metro area (in the 'burbs though) and I feel like this area has its particular challenges WRT cost of living. We were living in a crappy part of Brooklyn and then finally caved and moved out of town. Sometimes I wonder if we should have moved to LI but we have family here in the turnpike state. Similar situation with us on the choice for me to be a sahm - one we believe in deeply and very much wanted to make, but also contrained by the reality of fulltime emplyment in our professions here (time and financials of salaries vs. commute, childcare, plus hour expectations for our professions). We do all the same things you do. Well, except that I have not found Costco to be a cost saver personally - I think it's that we don't ever have the spare $$ or space to stock up and don't use most of their perishable stuff in the bulk quantities. Maybe if we had a garage and a spare freezer, I'd be able to make use of it more. How do you make it work for you?

 

Anyway, it's always great to know someone else in this area is dealing with similar challenges - as I've mentioned above I feel like so many of my mom acquaintances (not all) are either sahms with 2-3x our salary or basically regard me as priviledged to be able to "not work" whereas we honestly couldn't afford childcare (or if we got super lucky would just break even) if I could get a good job in my field locally. The conventional wisdom is that it's not possible to do what we're doing. But hey, we're doing it. I do wonder sometimes how long we'll be able to do it without changing some part of the paradigm, though. Have you heard that whole "you can't live in the NYC metro area on less than $100k" or whatever? I called one preschool we were looking at for DS re: financial aid and the person told me their "neediest" recepients make 80k...I didn't know how to respond so honestly, I just laughed. 


Me + DH + DS ('07) + after a long and bumpy road, thrilled that our twin boys are finally here (DS2 & DS3, '12)

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#18 of 43 Old 08-14-2012, 09:35 PM
 
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Oh, Gozal, don't get me started on the "$100k to live in NY thing." Yeah, you THINK you need that if you're from Omaha, spent your teen years watching movies based in NY (but filmed in LA and written by people not from here and don't get the life or the vibe of the city) or Sex and the City, and come here expecting to live that fictive lifestyle. Or if you're just plain rich. But, we both know that real people live in NY, make real (often low) salaries, and still make it work. It totally is possible to do what we've and many, many, many more families have done/are doing, and it totally sucks that our experiences are almost always ignored. And, my gosh, $80k was needy? There are just no words. 

 

Costco works for us because they sell a gallon of whole milk for under $4, usually $3.59 but its been slowly creeping up, and we can get three half-gallons of soy milk (for dairy-free DS) for less than two of them would cost at Stop and Shop. They also sell inexpensive and huge loaves of whole wheat bread that's dairy-free and good for DS. We get bulk diapers and wipes there, too, cheaper than Amazon's prices. Just what we save from milk and diapers makes up the cost of membership for us. We don't buy perishables other than milk, but will occasionally get whole frozen chickens or ground turkey that go into the freezer. When we buy bulk non-perishable/not immediately perishable food we store it in the fridge -- its 12 cubic feet of prime real estate and we use every last inch of it. Once or twice we stored boxes of macaroni or a huge bag of rice in the car's trunk when we couldn't fit them in the cabinets. 

 

I think you made a good choice not going to LI. It's all the cost of NYC but without any of the benefits. Except gas is cheaper in some towns and there's always ample parking. 

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#19 of 43 Old 08-14-2012, 10:23 PM
 
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I live in NYC, and have been a SAHM, making less than 100K... I'm working part-time now though. 

 

The problem I ran into as a SAHM in NYC was that friends presumed we had money and time because I was SAH. The co-op, fairly inexpensive preschool wanted us to shell out big bucks for their fundraisers and/or commit to a buttload of time helping out with said fundraisers. And it takes more time to do things on the cheap, honestly. Plus homeschooling... I did not have the time OR the money.

 

SAHM friends didn't understand why we didn't want to do events they were doing... that cost a lot of money or required childcare time I couldn't count on. (One signed up my DD to take a trial horseback lesson with her daughter, told my daughter about it first, hyped it all up... then sprung the cost on me. Sigh. I paid for the stupid thing, but made it clear we could not afford to do such a thing again!)


Book loving, editor mom to 2

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#20 of 43 Old 08-15-2012, 01:13 PM
 
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$80 K is needy- I about fell off my chair.  Yeah I get COL- but that is ridiculous.  I am a SAHM in Iowa.  When I check online the prices of goods and services I find a difference in food and housing.  That is about it.  So.  My DH works his tail off supporting us while I homeschool the kids and raise them myself.  I have an engineering degree from a great university and there are no jobs for that around here- so I wouldn't even break even in daycare- but honestly- that wasn't an option- either do engineering or sah.  My big gripe is actually buying gas.  I don't think there is much to do about this since it isn't like we could go somewhere in a Prius- but holy smokes!  The closest grocery stores are 45 minutes away and I would really like to go once a week.  Coincidently- it is in the same town that we go to church in- so it would be nice to combine the trip- but by the time we are done with church and get lunch and groceries we are ready to kill each other- which isn't really the point of going to church is it?  So that extra trip to town a week really adds up.  I have tried doing 2 weeks at a time- but then I am stuck at home ALL week and that is kind of miserable.  Like today is Wed and I have barely left the farm since Sunday (I went a half mile to the neighbors today to see DH for a minute).  Anyway- how do you guys stay sane while staying home all the time???  That is really the way things work to keep on budget- actually staying home saves a ton....  But I do go nuts....


Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#21 of 43 Old 08-17-2012, 10:03 AM
 
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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.


lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#22 of 43 Old 08-17-2012, 07:28 PM
 
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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!

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#23 of 43 Old 08-17-2012, 07:54 PM
 
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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.

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#24 of 43 Old 08-18-2012, 05:23 AM
 
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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.

 

coolshine.gif

 

 

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


lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#25 of 43 Old 08-24-2012, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


Me + DH + DS ('07) + after a long and bumpy road, thrilled that our twin boys are finally here (DS2 & DS3, '12)

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#26 of 43 Old 08-24-2012, 12:41 PM
 
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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.

 

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lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#27 of 43 Old 08-24-2012, 11:46 PM
 
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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. 

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#28 of 43 Old 08-25-2012, 09:08 AM
 
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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.


lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#29 of 43 Old 03-22-2013, 01:42 PM
 
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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!

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#30 of 43 Old 03-24-2013, 05:34 PM
 
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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!


WAHM to Sofia 12/09 and angel1.gif 4/13

 

"If you want to be happy, be."  Tolstoy

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