I didn’t write a SAHM post last week, mostly because I was contemplating whether to keep doing it or not. Sometimes my fear of making someone mad or hurt holds me back from saying what’s in my heart. The truth is, it shouldn’t.
Today I had an interesting conversation with someone that got me thinking about this next post. Finances is a big one when it comes to stay-at-home moms because it’s what holds a lot of women back. The conversation I had today was with a mom who longs more than anything to be at home with her kids. She told me about how she’s poured her heart’s desire out to God over-and-over, but at this point they just can’t make it work.
It broke my heart to hear that. I couldn’t imagine being in that position and, in a way, it made me feel terribly guilty. I felt guilty because I couldn’t tell her that I was in the same predicament. Once this little man is born, I’ll get to be home with him 24/7.
Again, I want to emphasize that my purpose in this series is not to condemn or wound. Who am I to point my finger at a woman, like the one I talked to, who’s doing what she must to make her family work? The truth is, however, that not everyone is in the same position as this woman.
I feel that I have a very unique perspective living where I do, in a small, rural town. The first thing I noticed upon moving here was that there was such a huge division of classes. There were the rich and there were the poor, and there wasn’t much in between.
Good or bad, everybody in town knows our church as the “rich” church. In truth, it makes sense. A large majority of the wealthiest people, the business owners and high-paying job holders, go to our church. Yet, 90% of the moms in our church still work outside of the home. The real truth is, it’s not finances that keep most of these women in their jobs. It’s culture, the way they were raised, a high standard of living, not liking being at home, loving their jobs, and more. Still, many of them would probably place the “blame” on finances. I don’t mean to say this as condemning of anyone at our church. We are so, SO blessed to be a part of such a wonderful body of believers! God is really working there. Yet, I sometimes wonder what these moms are missing out on. Honestly, I blame the culture. First, for placing the pushing the idea that women can’t be fully happy or make a difference in this world if they don’t hold an outside job. Second, for giving us such a high standard of living that, for many women, their not working just doesn’t seem feasible. Sadly, this isn’t limited to just women inside our church or even our community.
So how do you go from finances being your excuse to making things work? Let me start from the beginning:
If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, the sooner you start planning for it, the better. For all the single girls out there, that means now. You need to be planning, working, and saving towards that goal if that’s what you desire. Trust me, it isn’t easy to achieve. The more work you put in now, though, the better your chances will be later. (As a side note, be looking for a guy who would support you…both financially and emotionally.)
For those couples that are heading towards marriage: SAVE! Again, this issue is all about money, and the larger your savings the better. Make all your decisions with your ultimate goal in mind, even if you think kids are far down the road.
To those married couples just starting out, this is a critical time for you. Here are some tips:
–Set goals. Whether you plan on having kids right away or in a couple of years, you need to start setting financial goals (and, honestly, these goals should affect your timing of when to try to have a baby). Your main financial goal should be living comfortably off one income. Set smaller goals to help you achieve this!
–Lower your expectations. A lot of newly married couples make the mistake of thinking their standard of living should be just like their parents. This simply isn’t realistic. Remember, your parents spent years getting to where they are! Additionally, the world portrays a certain standard of living as a “necessity”. If you want to be a SAHM, you may not be able to buy new clothes all the time, or get your hair highlighted in a salon. Chiropractors and manicures could be out too and :gasp: you may not even be able to have cable t.v.! Start lowering your expectations of how you should live right now, and you’ll be better off in the long run.
–Live off your husband’s income, if at all possible. I know this isn’t always feasible for everyone, especially if your husband is in school or working towards a certain career. However, getting as close to that as possible will really help you in the long run. Not only will you learn to scrimp and save, and sometimes do without, but you’ll be able to sock away your income for later (or as much of it as you can).
–Save for a baby. In case you didn’t already know this, babies cost money…a lot of it. Start saving now for the time when your little one comes into this world, even if it’s a just a little each month. Your pocket book will thank you.
–Avoid debt. In talking to other young moms or moms-to-be, I’ve discovered that debt plays a huge role in their ability to or not to be a stay-at-home mom. While you probably can’t avoid all debt, the less you have the better. Think twice before taking out that student loan or buying that nice car. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Remember, those things become bills later…bills that eat away at your income.
Looking back, I’ve realized that a huge part of Andy’s and my ability to live off his income only is good planning. Honestly, we have our parents to thank for that. They not only taught us the value of a SAHM, but they also taught us how to budget and save and plan ahead.
What if you didn’t plan ahead, or didn’t think that you’d want to be a stay-at-home mom? Thankfully, there’s hope for you! Stay tuned for next time when I share about how to become a SAHM if you’re not financially prepared for it.