A Stay-at-Home Mom's Story
by Beth McGee
We have three children, ages 3, 5, and 11. I worked at a bank full time for years and then could not stand the stress any longer. I then worked waiting tables and was lucky to find a family business to work for that was willing to fit my needs with an easy schedule. However, after a while I started thinking..."why do I have to work this way at all?" It seemed to me that my children were always in limbo...on their way somewhere such as the baby- sitter's or home from the baby- sitter's. I could not do it to them any longer. This was about an hour and a half out of quality time we could be spending together every day. I decided that my social responsibility was to raise my children, not to work outside the home like I was.
I decided to stay home and clean houses. My husband has a job where he he works from 12 noon until 8 pm. (He is a manager of a gourmet deli/bakery so we get lots of free stuff that is delicious!) This allows me to clean houses from 7 am until 11 am without any daycare and the kids get to spend time with my husband alone to boot. My schedule is also so flexible that if the roads are icy or I have a school event to go to I can. Our preschooler goes to a parent cooperative school too so it is really inexpensive.
In the past, we had racked up tons of bills before we were together and we took out a consolidation loan to pay them all off as soon as we got married. This payment is only about $250 a month and other than that the only bills we have are your basic utilities such as propane, electric, and phone. Of course we would never buy a new car, both are used and paid for and we pay auto insurance. This has allowed us to live well and still spend all of our free time with our children.
I cook most things from scratch and spend about $70 a week on groceries for this family of five. We buy most of our clothes at consignment shops, and when the kids grow out of theirs or we get sick of ours, I take them back to the consignement shop and get money for them to spend on different ones. Even my 11-year-old daughter loves the idea of getting more for her money now and loves to go with me on these shopping trips. I don't consider myself cheap or a "tightwad." I spend like most people and love to shop but the idea is to get MORE for my money. Garage sales can be the highlight of our Saturday in the summer! We tell all of the grandparents at the holidays what the kids need like winter coats and boots and it makes them feel great to be able to get them something they will really get use out of. Of course, they mostly are used to the wasteful '80s where they spend too much on gifts anyway. I must say though that my disgust with that decade is what has made me so frugal in this one.
With the way our bills and income are set up, our plan is to be able to save over $10,000 a year over the next three years for a sizable downpayment on a farmhouse with an outbuilding or two. (This will be possible even allowing $7000 for "extras" for our present home and spending needs each year as my income is all savings.) Our dream is to own something that has a history and some character. I believe that now that we have commited to this goal it will be achieved within the next 4 years. We can make it work!!
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
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