Photo courtesy of TedsBlog
When my wife and I first discussed having children we were both on the same page when it came to determining the primary care provider–their mom. We knew living on one income would take some sacrifice, but it was one we were willing to make. Ten years later we continue to live on one income (well, one full-time income–not including my “side hustles”).
The other day someone asked what my wife did for a living, and I told them she is a full-time mom. Their response struck me, “You guys are so lucky she is able to stay home with the kids.” Lucky? I guess there has been an element of luck to my career success, and my success here at Frugal Dad. But, we’ve made our share of sacrifices to pull off this lifestyle, particularly early on.
We both drive old, used vehicles (mine is really old!). We did upgrade to an SUV when we had our second child, but we bought it used via a private sale and got a great deal. I drive an 18 year-old van back and forth to work. Fortunately, I have a short commute, and it is reliable at that distance. For longer commutes we take Mom’s SUV.
Our entertainment budget is virtually non-existent. Early in our marriage we had several sets of friends who were double-income families. It seemed like they were vacationing every three months, and often hit amusement parks, aquariums, etc. in between. That’s not to say all double-income families can more easily afford to entertain themselves, but with the extra disposable cash I suppose it is less taxing on the household budget. We try to take an annual vacation, but we usually only get away once every two years or so.
We have less money in savings. Since living on one income tends to be tight we have had less money to save and invest over the years, which will probably lengthen the amount of time I have to work. College savings, retirement and emergency savings are all behind where they should be, but we are comfortable with this trade off for now.
My wife put school and a career on hold. No reason a woman can’t have a successful career and be a great mom, but for my wife she made being a mom her top priority. My own mom had a successful career and is a great mom, but she had to be since she was a single parent and received no financial support from my father. My wife may someday return to school to finish her degree, or maybe even return to the workforce when our kids are older. But for now, she is perfectly content with her role as a full-time mom.
The opportunity for one of us to stay home with the kids is not granted by luck, rather by making other sacrifices in our lives. Opponents of stay-home parenting often cite the lack of social interaction as a negative aspect of keeping kids out of daycare. Both of our kids attended a “Mother’s Morning Out” program at a local church a couple days each week to allow them some social interaction, and to give mom an occasional break. This additional expense made things a little tighter, but by continuing to live frugal we have made it work. The bottom line is it is all about priorities. If you are willing to make certain sacrifices, being a full-time parent can be a rewarding experience for both you and your kids.