At the beginning of August I wrote a post about the common thought that it is impossible to “afford” staying at home and “afford” homeschooling.
There were a lot of good tips on how to save money and how to cut back, but it’s not the entire story.
If you ask a homeschool mom or a stay at home mom how they like staying at home they’ll most likely say they love it (obviously there are exceptions to the rule). If you ask them how they afford it, they will probably tell you something along the line of “we make it work.” Isn’t that all that most people do? Make it work?
I’ve talked to both of my parents and my in-laws and many other people and most of them have said during the early years of their marriage and when their children were little that they sometimes had to do things creatively in order to get by.
In my other post I talked about buying our kids clothes at consignment sales and avoiding cable. Sometimes staying at home not only means cutting out things you can live comfortably without, but cutting out things that make us a little less comfortable. I’d love to be able to say that I’ve got an abundance of snacky stuff and drinks (my thing is Mountain Dew) in my fridge and pantry all the time. The truth is that this is the first week in a long time that I’ve had drinks other than milk, water, tea, or coffee in the house. I’ve actually got ice cream in the freezer.
As of today, all of my bills are current and paid. I have gas in my car. I actually have a very small head start on October’s bills.
Here’s the thing though…this is the first time in a LONG time I’ve been able to say this. The past nine months have been difficult for our family and we’ve had one financial issue after another. We cut back to one car back in April as a way to save money and to help pay some of our bills. It wasn’t easy. Having two children and one car isn’t easy and it isn’t always comfortable, but it is do-able.
Just a few weeks ago I bought a newer (if you can call 2005 new) vehicle. This vehicle came with a new car payment. We got rid of my husband’s car and with it we got rid of car trouble and gained a little bit of money to help us out. Even though a car payment isn’t what I necessarily wanted, it’s going to help prevent unexpected car trouble which has caused us issues a few times in the past several months.
I’ve had that day when I had to jump up and run to the water department to make sure the water bill is paid before it gets shut off. Sure I would have paid it before the shut off date, but the paycheck didn’t come in until that morning or I had to decide which bill was of higher priority for what little money we had. There’s been times when I’ve had to get the offered payment extension because I’d pinched my pennies until they were screaming for mercy.
Who has not had money problems? Am I poor? No. Am I rich? Not according to the “American Dream” standards. I pay my bills, we have plenty to eat, we have more clothes than we need, and we have a wonderful house that has all the space we need and then some. I’m working part time right now while Jimmi is in school so I’m not a full-time stay at home mom, but I spend a ton of time with my kids and my husband gets to spend more time with them now too. Once Jimmi gets out of school in May I will return to full-time mommy status.
Don’t read this and think that the struggles we’ve had over the past several months are all we are. There is a time and season for everything. We’ve had times in our lives that everything has gone great. These past few months have been a test on how we handle stress. We’ve had to learn how to handle the stress finances causes to a marriage, the toll it takes on a whole family, and the steps that need to be taken to get out. We’ve had to learn that the way we’ve done our finances in the past (with two working people and rent rather than a mortgage) is not going to work for us as a one-income family trying to homeschool.
This post has turned into something a little bit more long winded than intended, but I’ve really only scratched the surface of what I’d like to say about money. I’m learning how to do things differently. I’m testing out a few different things to see what works for our family. I’ll be sharing more as I slowly start figuring it out for myself.