Almost 2 months into it…

And I thought some of you might be curious as to how my transition to no paycheck at all has gone.

I stopped working at all at the end of June (I’m a freelance writer and although at home with my 2yo since Feb 1, have been doing several stories a month while she naps/before she gets up.)

Not working is kind of a mental shock. I’ve worked half my life, and to not bring in any money at all is strange. My initial reaction to this was frantic cleaning/organizing, etc…figuring everything had to be done and perfect at home since my DH was the only one working.

I was really disoriented, unfocused, and frankly nowhere near as productive as I could have been. But a friend, another SAHM who’s been at it longer, reminded me that I work too: chasing around a toddler, managing the budget, doing all the housework/gardening/shopping/cooking is work, as we all know 🙂

And then there was the spending. If I look back to my old days, I’m a reformed person, but I’m nowhere near reformed enough to live on DH’s nice salary in the SF Bay Area. We have no debts except our 5 hundred dollar loan and the mortgage, but that’s huge, more than half his take home every month. I’ve had to really tighten things more.

Here’s what’s worked (and hasn’t):

1. Cooking from scratch: doing even more of that than I was before, but it’s ONLY cheaper if you shop around for ingredients. In this area, buying flour/sugar/etc. can vary widely in price from store to store. A price book and an ability to stock up helped me. Plus I realized I was willing to pay more for bread machine flour since we see a big taste difference — and I make all our bread — but I won’t pay more than 99c a bag for 5lbs of regular flour which is what I use for everything else.

2. Gardening — this can be a huge money sink, and confession time, I think mine has been. Though I’ve had great potatos, tomatos, herbs, zukes, peppers…it’s cost me money to buy topsoil to hill the potatos, mulch, and of course the plants themselves. Next year I’m going to see if I can do everything from seed.

3. Thrift stores/garage sales: every piece of clothing I’ve purchased in the last six months has come from one of these two sources. Plus the vast majority of her toys, including all outdoor toys. Plus shoes, plus decorative items, etc. However, I have been known to get carried away, and since cash is always tight, I set a $ limit each week and then if I go over it, I have less the following week. The only way in which this area is great to live in — from a frugal perspective — is the garage sales. There is so much money here you can’t believe what people get rid of, often brand new. It’s kind of sickening, really.

4. Library — I go on Amazon.com, see what I want to read, then reserve themat the library. This works particularly well for new books…when you find out one of your favorite authors has a new one coming out, you can just reserve it. You may wait a bit, and it costs 50c here to reserve, but it’s worth it. DH does this as well. We LOVE the library. I also take DD to free toddler story time, we check out books together, and she’s as into reading as mom an dad.

5. Free entertainment: Zoo membership pays big dividends for us…we can go to 30 great attractions in Northern California alone, for free, and more throughout the state. And we take advantage of free concerts and events. Even a historic walking tour is fun for our 2yo, since she can run around, ride her bike, etc. A trip to the beach, a picnic lunch, lots of playing in the sand goes a long way for both DD and I to recharge LOL

6. Attitude: you’re either deprived or you’re creative. I think I said this earlier this week but I daily have to talk to myself about this. If I’m creative, I’m empowered, in charge, on top of things, and the world is going my way. If I’m deprived, well, forget it!!

7. Think about every single purchase: this is hard for me. Tough to not buy for my DD (she doesn’t ask for the most part, it’s me who wants to LOL), tough to have to wait, tough to have to make do. But when I do this, I find I can make do.

8. Decorating: one of my biggest money sinkholes of all time. I’m a closet interior designer – not really, I just like it – and I’ve always had a hard time controlling how I spend on the house.

Garage/thrift stores help, but…sometimes you just get that itch to redo things. And right now, there’s no money. So my strategy: I rearrange/redecorate with what I have. It works well, I feel I have a fresh new look, and most importantly, I don’t feel deprived.

Sorry for the book! But I’ve vowed to be less of a lurker now that I’m back on the list.

I have to say this is the parents fault

I have to say this is the parents fault -WHY did they let her buy a new mustang- there is a HUGE difference between a job for a little extra spending money some fashionable clothes and allowing a child to have an adult lifestyle ( new car etc) because they have a job –

I worked PT from 9th grade thru nursing school my grades never showed the difference (A’s) because I put school not work first — again IMO that is the parents fault if they let their kids grades fail and continue to let them work — when I was growing up working was considered a privileged and grades – attitude had to be kept up to keep the job.

I can tell you that when i was in nursing school i could point out which kids never ever had a job of any-kind- very little responsibility for anything – from leaving their stuff all over the schools kitchen to not taking clinical as id it was a ” job” in itself ( which it was )

Plus many kids have no choice if they want some extras- IMO it is much worse for a Mom to leave teh family so teh kids can have these extras than for the kids to work a few hours a week

I think the # 1 thing is doing al things in moderation- i bet 99% of kids who work ~ 10 hours a week will not have problems with grades etc. as compared to those trying to pay off cars etc. ( which IMO a new car for a teen is absolutely ridiculously a WANT not a need – a safe reliable car is a need and even that is questionable- i used my moms car until i got a used Toyota at 19 yo to drive to and from nursing school in )

Teens working

Felt compelled to reply when I heard about a teen wanting to work on a farm…farm work is one of the most dangerous jobs there are. Many farmers are killed or maimed each year and often these are young people who may understand how to drive a piece of machinery but don’t have the maturity/judgment to be around such dangerous equipment.

Even adult don’t always think/remember what they are doing. Remember taking care of a woman who had been partially scalped/one ear lost when she was working around a corn picker without her long hair under a cap and it got sucked into the machinery. The law says kids can’t work around dangerous machinery but it happens all too frequently…like slicers in deli’s and fast food shops…a neighbor kid cut off 4 fingers and lost his dream of joining the service using this kind of machinery; all to keep up his car.

Another girl was nearly killed falling asleep on her way home from her Walmart job all to keep up the payments on her new Mustang. I personally don’t think teens should work –their education should be primary interest with time for family, friends, church and community service. Studies have shown that the majority of teens who work have lower grades.

Plenty of years when you’ll have to work. DEE

This is an interesting issue

When I taught, I had a lot of kids in my classes who worked. I can’t imagine how some of them did it! I knew students (I also was director of the flag corps) who worked mornings, went to school all day, went to track or volleyball practice right after school, went to flag or band right after sports, and finally made it home after practice, which ended at 9:30. Poor kids. I could hardly keep up with my OWN schedule.

I think a lot depends on the individual kid and how he/she responds to the responsibility. I had an interesting situation…siblings whose parents didn’t work. The girl got a job when she was a sophomore, and worked all through high school. I was so impressed with her initiative. By her senior year, I knew that she was working at least 30 h per week, plus going to vocational school in another town. That year, my teacher’s aide and I paid her car insurance for her…$25.00 a month…her parents wouldn’t help her (in fact, they were known to steal her $$!!). Her father wanted her to quit school and either work ft so that she could give them $$, or quit school AND quit work, so that they (the parents) could get public assistance for her again. (I guess they lost it, or some of it, when she started working.) Anyway! Long story short…she graduated, got a decent job immediately, and has been a hard worker ever since. I am so terribly proud of her, one would think she was my very own!

So in contrast, her brother…got a job in the fields the summer after his sophomore year, got a big head because he could make such great money, and QUIT school. I have talked to him since and he literally cannot see any further than the numbers on his paycheck. He makes okay money when he is working, but he doesn’t understand that he may well be tossing watermelons and detassling corn and living with his parents for the rest of his life, because he has not earned his GED or any other equivalent, and has no skills and no initiative. I have utmost respect for ANYone who works in the fields or any other type of work like that, don’t get me wrong! I just know that this young man settled for the quick fix and has never gotten past that point.

I don’t know what I will do with my boys. We too live in a town with lots of opportunities for young people. (Most of the restaurants seem to be managed by college students. ;->) I know that they will want to work, and I am leaning toward summer jobs and maybe something like paper routes. I am not willing for them to work very many hours, though, at least during the school year. I agree that kids need time to be kids…they will have years and years to worry about earning a paycheck! Unfortunately, they want motor-scooters and the like, and Momma’s budget does NOT allow for stuff like that. 😉

So… I guess I am in a quandary too! I will be eager to hear what everyone else thinks about this one.

Hugs, karol

In her defense

I think she meant that since it was not a situation where I HAD to work (hopefully) and the fact that there would be FIVE kids he would be in charge of – after working all week long FT plus hours -( about 55 hours a week with no OT pay) my husband must have a lot of patience with kids – which he does- I didn’t see that she said that kids should be put in Daycare so the dad’s didn’t have to watch them.

Many men decide they do not want the their wife’s working at all since they are not use to the kids day to day schedules etc. and for kids just one little change in a schedule can be chaos for the rest of the day – PLUS when i work nights he comes home from work – i take a nap – get ready for work – go to work – he handles any problems from that time till i get home at 6 :15 am including any problems that has the kids getting up in the middle of the night – next AM i get home go to bed he gets up with the kids – gets them breakfast ready for school etc-all while having to get himself ready etc. and i get up after 2 1/2 hours sleep when he is ready to leave for work and i am up for the day – then he goes to work and as soon as he gets home i go to bed – and he is in charge again – so technically he gets no break for almost 36 hours ( if i work a Friday night i sleep Saturday day and he takes all the kids to their sports activities etc- if i do go back to work he will be taking 5 kids one a 6 month- 1 year old along for the ride too- that’s a lot of work !!! I know DH’s who would rather their kids be in daycare than they have to do things like this !!!

Any it does take patience whether Mom or dad to have larger families – most Moms i know with larger families do not work just because the dad’s just cannot juggle the ten things going on at once- as easily as Moms do – especially when the kids are very young.