Monday, June 20, 2011

Living on one income

I've had some readers write to me about being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). They were afraid to take the "plunge" because they were afraid of the loss of financial freedom. I really do not know what to advise them because these things are intensely personal and depends on each individual. You really have to know what YOU want. I can only share how it is like for me.

I never really thought about how it would be like to live on one income before taking the "plunge". I knew I wanted to stay at home to look after the kids and my husband said he would support whatever decision I made at the time. I am not really sure because we never really talked about it very deeply, but I had the impression that my husband wouldn't mind or maybe even preferred to have a working wife. However, I think he sees the benefit of one who is staying at home and likes having one now for the sake of the children.

One of the benefits is we never have to worry about who has to take leave to look after the kids if they are sick and have to stay home and we don't have to worry about making after school arrangements for them. I think that removes that kind of stress away from us.

So how does it feel like to be living on one income? Not very different I guess. We are slightly better now compared to our "heydays" of living frugally. In those days, we didn't eat out (now we do but we are still careful about what we order and we usually just drink water) and we drove a 16-17 year old car. I had only one handbag (I still do) and I used to have just one pair of shoes (now I have a few but it does take some shelf space, one is better). My handphone is really old with no camera or other function (It is still really old with no camera or whatever function accept to make and receive calls).

We don't subscribe to pay TV (we still don't because we don't have the time to watch TV, not only does it save us money but it also helps prevents the kids from turning into TV addicts, they are bookworms instead), we don't take overseas  holidays (we still don't but we can still have lots of fun wherever we go or don't go). I don't frequent hair salons. (Last year, I cut my hair just once, this year twice so far. I can trim my own fringe if necessary. Actually, I hate the salon not because of the money involved but because of the time but it helps to save so might as well add it here.) And I don't have any spas or facials or manicure or pedicure or whatever cure. (My mind would probably be drifting to how my time is being wasted and all the things I could better do with my time then sit there having someone paint my fingernails and stick stickers or gems on it that would come off in the next instance when I do something with my hands. What a terrible waste of money).

Oh and I get to act like a little girl and put out my hand for cash whenever I need it. Hubby does not give me any money every month. He just passes me money to buy food when we are out. The rest of the time, he pays everything, the groceries, the bills, all sorts of children's school and activity fees, everything. So I don't really need money. We go shopping for clothes, once a year during Chinese New Year (that way the kids also feel the excitement and tradition of Chinese New Year).

Thanks to my blog, now I have a little pocket money in my Paypal to buy some things for the man as a surprise. I can buy online and have it delivered to the house. Otherwise, how do you buy something for someone who takes you out and pays for everything?

Have I scared anyone yet? ;) Anyway, these are small issues. The benefits are huge. The other day, someone I didn't know commented. "Your kids are really close to you. That is hard to find these days." That made me really happy. Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that you cannot be close to your kids if you are a working mom. I know a lot of blogger mommies who are working moms but whom are really close with their kids because they make the effort. Why, my kids father is a working dad but he is close to his kids as well. He makes the effort to teach them and take them out etc. However, he does not have the benefit of time. There certainly isn't very much time in the morning and by the time he gets home, it is dinner, then bedtime for the kids.

Whether you are working or not is besides the point. However, for me, it just takes less effort that is all. I don' t have to worry about the next day's presentation or meeting when I am reading a bedtime story to them each night, for example. I believe that I will be a lot more stressed up trying to be there for them and still having to worry about bosses, colleagues, office politics or whatever. My focus would be split. Now, it isn't. I also have the advantage of time which my spouse does not have. I do feel fortunate indeed to be able to spend time with my kids.

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  1. well said well said! It is exactly how i feel when i decided to turn into a SAHM. The less stress and don't have to split my focus! :)

  2. I read your post with awe and admiration for you.. some parts made me guilty..cos i m the one who go for washing, trimming hair once every two or three months, i go for facial once a month or so, massage too.. (but not medi or pedicure).. i have around ten pairs of shoes, (but some worn out and not thrown yet).. i spent on clothing for my kids (esp my girl.. )not just once a year but anytime of the year... i go for trips now and then (local), to enjoy eating.. and the list goes on..
    Yes, I told my sons... if they can afford it, it is best that their "wives" stay home to be with the kids.. they really need the attention they should be getting..
    Of course due to financial constraints and inflation, both spouses have to work to make ends meet and to give their kids more.. extra more..
    whatever it is, it is time management.. if by end of the day, we still have the energy and strength, we will surely shower them upon our kids..
    phew.. what a tough job a lady has! oh, should i say, Mother..

  3. I count myself lucky coz I get to be a SAHM. Like u said, we're spared of those work-related stress. Moreover, hubs has peace of mind knowing that the mother is at home with his kids.

  4. liked this post! I'm mostly a SAHM mum too, although I teach part time. The benefits are worth it! we too do not subscribe to TV, I too use an old phone, have no facials or spas etc etc. haha.. We learn to live within our budget and our children learn how to spend money wisely, but mostly SAHM have a great part in moulding our chidlren's character. :)

  5. Vivianz,
    I know that if I had to split my focus, something has to give. I prefer it this way. I don't think I can manage having the best of both worlds, family and career, probably both will suffer in the process, so I choose one over the other.

    What kind of mother in law do you think you will turn out to be? Haha. Sorry, not related. Your comment just got me thinking, that is all. :)

    Unfortunately, hubs often claims he is not spared the peace of mind wor. His favourite phrase is you are at home and yet I have to worry about home. lol.

    Yes, I believe that part (moulding kids' characters) cannot be left to another caregiver, whether in-laws, after school care centres or worse still, maids! After school centres and maids or even in-laws may be able to assist in the physical aspect of child care like feeding, bathing, naps, homework help etc but the support and emotional part, I cannot give my all unless I don't have other distractions.

  6. Hi mumsgather!

    Thanks for your comment on my post about having 2nd child. I hope the feeling will go away soon. I come from a small family (just me and my elder brother - gap by 6 years), not sure whether there's impact from there or not. I'm not worried about having more kids (yet...) but more to how can I make more room in my heart for my kids...

    As for your post, I quit my job to be a SAHM back in June 2009 as I can't work out an arrangement with my previous company to allow me to take unpaid leave/part-time/flexi hours (I want to breastfeed at least 6 months) - so decided to just quit after going through discussions and deep thoughts with hubby on living on 1 less income.

    What's there about being a SAHM? Well, I lost my sense of privacy - need to have 'open door' policy when I bath or even do my business as I gotta keep an eye out on my toddler (in case he got into any mischief :P) but it's OK :)

  7. Jenny,
    I am sure your heart will have plenty of room. Hmmm... about that loss of privacy part. I remember I used to put the toddler on the potty and the baby on a mat right outside the bathroom so that I can watch both of them while I bathe. Haha. Well, you will be getting some of that madness soon but they grow up so fast, in the blink of an eye so remember to tell yourself that whenever you feel overwhelmed. :)

  8. How I wish I can be a SAHM just like you. Though I am a FTWM, I still have only 1 pair of working slipper, to the saloon once or twice a year, no buying new cloths, no whatever cures, worry about my kids, work and debts, very tiring life..just hope there's a change for the better soon.


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