“Oh, you’re a stay at home mom? Boy, that must be nice. I’d love to be able to stay home with my kids…”
I’ve heard that one a few times.
And I’ve bit my tongue when the person speaking then pulls their brand-new Smart phone out of their designer handbag or helps slip brand new designer sneakers on their little one’s feet before walking out to their brand new SUV, all so they can get home to watch whatever show they’ve TiVoed.
Yes, I know, sometimes it really isn’t possible for every mom who wants to, to stay home. There are single parents, there are homes where mom is the only one who is working at the time, there are huge medical bills that need to be paid.
I get that.
But then there are those who really could do it, if they truly wanted to. So I’m going to share how we afford it.
I don’t have a new car. It’s the same one I got before we married; it has over 100,000 miles on it, and I’m not planning on replacing it any time soon. My husband’s truck? Just as old with 150,000 miles.
New cell phone? Uh, no. Mine is 4 years old now. And it is far from high-tech. My cell phone makes phone calls. That’s what phones are really for, right? Actually, it can also take pictures, too. That was a bonus I hadn’t expected with the phones we got free with our cell phone plan. Free. I like free.
Speaking of that phone plan; there is not texting or Internet on it. I guess the phone can physically do those things (Once my daughter texted “A” from my phone to her daddy’s phone when she was a year old…The kid is light years ahead of us!), but not using those features and having a basic plan saves us money.
You won’t find cable t.v. at our house, nor do we have satellite or whatever other stuff there is for televisions today. When the government decided everyone should have digital signals, we went with the converter box. The basic one we could get with the government issued coupon. What sucked is we had to build a huge antennae for the converter box to even work out here… But my husband and his dad installed it all themselves, saving us labor costs at least.
Kids clothes? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hand-me-downs rock! Seriously. So do consignment shops. 8 dollars for a winter coat that almost looks brand new? I’ll take it! After all, they will both outgrow their coats by the next year anyway. Why spend 50 bucks for the latest Gymboree or Children’s Place item?
The same with toys. Yes, my kids have had their share of new toys. (After all, they are the only grandkids on my husband’s side of the family!) But this year their birthday gifts from us came from the consignment shop. I didn’t plan it, but when I saw them I knew they were perfect. My daughter loves her My Little Pony island, and Monkey has played with his pirate ship every day since his May birthday. How could I pass it up for 6 dollars? And he doesn’t care how much I spent on it. Trust me.
Grocery shopping? Whenever possible I buy the generics. Yes, coupons are great, but there are a lot of times that even with the coupon, the generic is just a better deal. I admit it, I am a paper product snob, though. I have tried our generics in paper towels and toilet paper and it just has to be the brands I grew up with for those.
Yes, the husband and I like to go out to eat, alone, when possible. But it’s not a daily thing for sure! Once a week, or so, we head out to catch dinner. Sometimes we even splurge and get dessert. (Everyone needs to do that sometimes!) If you look around you can find coupons for quite a few nice restaurants. We have a local favorite that is family owned and always a great deal – dinner for 2 for $20 bucks is a nice treat without breaking the bank. And we skip all the alcoholic drinks when dining out – that adds up!
Have a book habit? The library has allowed us to have quite the reading selection without spending a dime. (Well, except with overdues!) And for all those kids books I want to have in our personal library without having to worry about the kids damaging a library book? The used book store. Love that place.
Movie habit? No, we don’t have Netflix. And we haven’t paid to rent a video at Blockbuster for years. Again, the library has kept us quite happy.
Maid service? Yeah… Don’t think so!
Designer purses? Shoes? Clothes? Not my style! And all my maternity wear? It came from consignment shops. I could probably count on one hand the items I have bought myself since weaning the maternity wear from my closet. (And, yes, those items were sold again!)
Mani’s and pedi’s? I have had one pedicure in my lifetime – oh, and it WAS wonderful! But I can’t justify spending 30 dollars to do that on a regular basis. Nor do I spend a lot on my hair cut/style. Hey, if I can get the same cut during the 6 dollar special at a place like Great Clips, why go somewhere else and spend 30 or more?
Do I feel like I am giving anything up?
Not. At. All.
I really don’t think there is much on this list that I would consider, even if I had the extra money.
But, even if I’d love to have all of that stuff, being able to spend this once in a lifetime opportunity to stay at home with our kids? THAT is priceless.
It’s just an issue of what I value most.