Single Income Living: A More Traditional Lifestyle
by Rebecca Cook
My husband and I have been married almost 4 years. We have a daughter almost 3 and a son who is 8 months. We live in a mobile home which we own, no payments, in a trailer park where we lease the land for $345 a month. I have a master's degree in flute performance but am not currently teaching private lessons. My children take all of my emotional coping. My husband attends the University of Washington where he is an undergraduate student. He goes to school full time and has been able to have a Pell grant for the last three years. He works a part time job at a hospital in the anatomic pathology lab. This is the source of our income. He earns right around 1,000. a month
We do not feel poor. We have very little money, but that has nothing to do with if you feel poor. We have our home, we have each other, we have happy children and we have goals and interests to vary our life.
I believe there are two items which keep us solvent. The first is that we voluntarily donate 10% of our income to our church as a tithe. The second is that both my husband and I don't need to spend in order to have a better self esteem, to keep up with anyone.
I make our food from scratch. I have a vegetable garden. We have a freezer to put extra meat and veggies when they come on sale. I use a price book and know what I buy and when it is on sale. We always accept hand me downs etc. Our children have cute clothes. We don't care about brands but I do like having them look cared for and cute. Hand me downs work wonderfully for this.
We try to cut back on our energy usage by putting rugs next to the doors in the winter, cooking several items at once in the oven etc.
We take the children to Toddler Time at the Liberia and go to the park. I read to them, sing to them, play with them and teach them. I do not want to send my children to a preschool and so am willing to do the awful amount of work needed to nurture them in all these extra ways.
We date very simply. We go on walks. We play board games. We attend free school activities. We also do a family party every Friday night. This enables us to have a pattern of 'being with the family is cool.' Usually we go to the park, watch a library rented show or play games like Duck Duck Goose.
We have a spot in our budget called play money. My husband and I each get 25 dollars a month to blow any way we want. This has been very helpful. Mine usually goes to expensive haircuts. I find that if my hair looks snazzy, I do. No matter how conservative my clothing. My husband usually saves up for computer purchases. When we purchase clothing, anything after the first 10 dollars has to come out of our play money. We also have a date category. This means my husband can bring me flowers and I can get him ice cream bars without feeling the sting in other categories. A happy marriage helps a budget.
I think the biggest help in all of this is that we are both committed to my staying home with our children. We also want to be able to see my husband and their daddy. If it takes being very tight on grocery money and putting seeing my husband and children as more important than having extra comforts and entertainment, well then I would choose them over the superficial.
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!