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Single-Income Families Are Still Possible

I can’t tell you how many times I have been doing a public appearance when some woman in the audience has stood up and started yelling at me for saying that moms should stay at home with their kids.  I remember one woman in particular who said, “I’m at work from 6 in the morning until 8 at night, and I am a very good mother!”  I paused a moment, and then responded, “So, if you did not go in to your job from 6 to 8, could you say that you were a good employee and an asset to the company?” 

She just looked at me with her jaw hanging open. 

Many women try to justify not staying at home with their kids, but being a mommy is not something you should hire out.  Why?  Let’s assume for a moment that I wasn’t there for one day of my son’s life.  Instead of staying home, let’s pretend that I got up, went to work, and came home right when he was going to sleep.  Should I say that’s the right thing to do just because I want to justify my actions?  Of course not.   Yet, there are women out there who attack other women for being stay-at-home moms because they are not at-home moms themselves.  That’s what the “mommy wars” are all about: working mothers who choose not to be at home with their kids attacking those who make the sacrifices.  A lot of young men and women are being brought up by feminists who say that a woman being protected and provided for is a waste of her life.

I won’t lie – it’s very hard to live on one income.  Trust me.  I’ve walked the talk and know how difficult it can be.  I remember very clearly walking into inexpensive malls with my kidlet and crying because I couldn’t buy him a second pair of shoes.  But for better or for worse, I wanted to be a mommy.  When my son was little, I would take care of him all day and then go to work around 9 or 10 at night.  When he was old enough to go to school, I transitioned to going on the air during the day.  By doing that, I got to reap the rewards of being there for him and having all of his influences come from me.  

Even though becoming a single-income parent requires a lot of sacrifices, it is doable.  In order to make the transition, there are a few things you have to do in advance: 

  • Make sure you’re marrying someone who is on the same page as you.  I talked to a couple one time who were both letter carriers.  What they did was put the wife’s salary in the bank for one year and didn’t touch it.  When the year was over, they had no outstanding debts and realized that they could get by on one income.  She quit her job, got pregnant, and became a stay-at-home mom.  So, before you even think about getting married, you need to discuss the future and make plans. 
  • Build up some emergency funds and backup cash. Similar to the couple I just mentioned, spend a year living on only one income, eliminate any outstanding debts, and pile everything else into a bank account. 
  • Don’t buy new cars. You hear about new cars being safer and more convenient, but don’t be fooled. There are plenty of safe, roomy, and convenient USED options.   You don’t want to have to pay the price of a new car (which drops in value the minute you roll out of the dealership), or take on the cost of new car insurance either.
  • Don’t attempt to compete with two-income families.  The reason why they have disposable income may very well be because they’re neglecting and abandoning their children.  That’s not a tradeoff you want to make. 

In addition, you have to learn how to be a “home economist.”  This is quite easy.  One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s actually women of more modest means who generally make the decision to be mothers when they have children.  There are many wonderful websites out there for at-home parents.  Just type “at-home parent” into your browser, and you’ll find coupons galore. 

I still use coupons to this day.  There’s no reason not to.  Just because you have some money doesn’t mean you should throw it away:

  • There are coupons for EVERYTHINGfood, clothes, pet supplies, computer accessories, and more.  Have you noticed when you order something on the net that there’s always a space to write in a coupon code?  The minute I see that, I think, “Whoops, I should have found one!”   I am always looking for coupons.  I don’t go to craft stores without them.  Art and craft places like Michaels have coupon specials going on all the time.  I always wait for the one that’s 20 percent off everything to stock up on the stuff I need (the key word there being “need” not “want”).
  • There are cash-back sites like Ebates.com, which give you money back on the purchases you make from your favorite stores.  There are also credit cards that offer cash-back incentives for the money you spend.  However, be sure to use these types of cards carefully. If you start spending right and left thinking, “Oh well, I’m getting money back,” you’re going to end up spending too much.
  • Look for restaurants that have family meals (“two-for-one adult meals,” or “kids eat free”).  Try to find coupons for restaurants as well.

Here are some more tips on how to become a “home economist”:

  • Pack lunches.  I’m definitely a “pack a lunch” kind of girl.  It’s cheaper, healthier, and you get exactly what you want.  For one thing, you can avoid buying all that flavor-injected meat and fish.
  • Shop at the Salvation Army.   You can often find new stuff like toys that nobody has opened.  Kids don’t have to know where it came from.  I once went to a really nice thrift store with a friend who was on a tight budget, and we got her daughter a bunch of nice tops and sweaters for only $25.  It was unbelievable.  They looked brand-new to us. 
  • Check your cell phone plan.  There are plans that include free calls to everyone on the same network.  Again, be cautious because a lot of them come with expensive monthly bills and long-term contracts.  
  • Participate in online barter groups.  These are very cool.  One participant wrote, “I’ve received clothes for myself and the kids, toys, musical instruments, books, movies, etc. all in exchange for things that I no longer need but are still functional and someone else can use.”
  • Homeschool your kids.  You won’t have to buy special school clothes, waste time driving to the campus, or be involved in school fundraisers.  And even more importantly, you can make sure your kids actually get an education. Imagine that.
  • Cook healthy meals. Preparing veggies and protein at every meal can be very economical, especially if you buy things in bulk at places like Costco.

You can find page after page of websites telling you how to save money as a stay-at-home parent.  No matter what your income level, it’s stupid not to use them:

  • On Stayathomemoms.about.com, one woman wrote that she doesn’t use the lights or the dishwasher, do the laundry, or consume much electricity during the day because it’s more expensive.  She does one load a day at 11 p.m.  She has a cup of tea and relaxes, throws the clothes in the dryer, and gets them out before the baby gets up in the morning.  That’s it.

The bottom line is that you need to care enough about your children to raise them.  If you can’t or won’t, then don’t have them.  And when you do decide to make sacrifices for them, don’t bitch about it – ever.  If you can’t go out and buy a lot of jewelry and clothes just think, “It’s a small price to pay to have peace, joy, and contentment.”  Being a full-time parent is a very rewarding experience for both you and your child, and with a little planning, you can not only stay at home with your kids, but you can enjoy the process too.