I'm always sorry to hear the news about someone staying home for years and then deciding to go back to work. The reasons cited more often than not are economical. Of course, it may happen that one's husband loses his job or becomes unable to work, but it's not always the reason. Let's be honest, Western economies are not exactly doing fine right now, prices grow higher, various forms of subsidies people in Europe grew accustomed to are disappearing, medical care becomes more expensive, etc etc.
Does it mean that you can't live on one income any more? I'd like to stress that here I'm talking about middle class families. Even a lower middle class man will earn the amount of money which the working class couple normally earn with two of them (since most married women over here only work past-time) , and yet there are enough of these couples having children and living just fine. Which means, if they can do it, you can do it, too! As someone pointed out to me, often it's not really the question of needs unmet, but rather about preserving a certain lifestyle.
When the family finances start going south, the temptation is often strong to try and keep up appearances, even if it means the wife and mother getting a job outside home. Middle class couples often have a certain standard to maintain, which becomes more important to them than anything else. Of course, it's my opinion, that even an average working class couple could live on one income considering the fact that they still qualify for some government freebies, but it would take a great deal of good management.
On the other hand, when money is not so tight, it's easier to become careless and start spending it like water, which will always ruin you in the end, no matter how much you earn. I'll just give you a personal example. I normally received a certain sum of money from my husband for weekly shopping and I managed to save enough that I could afford to get out and lunch with my friends from time to time.
We really didn't need to economise so I asked him to give me more money. My idea was to save it for hobby purposes (yarn, fabric, knitting magazines) and I was quite enthusiastic about it, however, after a couple of months I noticed that by the end of the week I had less money left than before, when the amount I received had been smaller. I just started buying more expensive brands and overall became more careless, which proves that if you don't exercise tight control on how much you really give out, you'll come into trouble.
If the family are committed to living on one income, they should take some tough decisions beforehand, including where they are planning to live, which school the children will attend (commuting is expensive), which car they are going to drive etc.
I remember reading a story in comments section of a newspaper about a guy who said that though his wife was a SAHM, by the end of the month they had more money over than his two-income relatives who were pretty resentful about the fact. He rented while they had a huge mortgage, he didn't need to pay daycare for his kids since his wife was home, he paid less taxes since he was the sole provider and thus lower income, his family didn't eat out so often, his vacations were probably not so luxurious and yet he and his wife were happy while the other couple were bitter. Priorities are everything!
In the end, it doesn't depend so much on what your husband earns, but rather, on what's more important for you. If it's your conviction that a married woman's place is her home, you'll do everything possible to make it happen. If you believe otherwise, well, it's a free country, after all. For those falling in the first category, I'd like to recommend this great article which also gives detailed suggestions on how to reduce expenses so that you, too, could stay home:
How Can I Afford To Stay Home?
Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands, maar niet goed voor maken comments:-). So I will continue in English.ReplyDelete
If you take daycare and other expenses associated with both husband and wife working, it seldom makes financial sense. Not to mention the stress and upheaval
We all say that everything has become so expensive. The trouble might be is that often we want much more than we really need. Many couples really do not know how to budget their money. I feel bad for those who really need to work, but would rather stay home. As much as possible; simplify. Often we just have too much clutter.ReplyDelete
Meerkat, welcome to the blog! Marietta, so true about wants and needs!ReplyDelete
I'd like to add that according to my calculations, the amount of welfare a family with two children where neither parent works receives per month is about the same (or slightly lower) as an "average" working class salary. Now, the average salary is probably calculated using both the earnings of men and women, and women usually work shorter hours and earn less, so that a factory worker, for instance, will earn more than that, however, the fact is that the government estimates that a family of 4 should be able to come around with this amount of money per month, which, imo, proves, that it's perfectly possible to live on one income even for those families where the husbands works for approximately the minimum wage.ReplyDelete
Of course you can. Just stick to the essential and let everything else go...ReplyDelete
I'd like to add that I was using official government numbers for my estimations as there is a certain guideline for what is considered lower-middle/middle class vs what is considered "average" salary, however, many men not quite making it to "middle class" will still earn much more than that average (which I think, is calculated using the earnings of the women as well, since even a factory worker normally earns more than that).ReplyDelete
Miriam, I agree about essentials...
You are right, Sanne. Staying at home is something we must achieve through tough work inside our spending behavior. Buying is a huge temptation and if you have more money on hand you tend to spend more. What I couldn't figure out is if it is worth trying to attend a better school for the children with the shortcoming that more money is going to be wasted on transport, a better car and time loss. If you live at a pretty distance from a good urban school, what can be done to balance money and a good education if homeschooling is not legal?ReplyDelete
Depends on whether you can afford the travelling expenses, I guess. Otherwise, choose the best school available nearby and give them additional lessons at home if necessary.ReplyDelete
Oh those wants and needs... I personally noticed couple of weeks ago how much I have been spending on clothes this year. (and last year. And year before that.) Naughty me. Then I read a fabulous book about budgeting your wardrobe costs and planning your wardrobe purchases. It really opened my eyes. I bet I am not the only woman who could save quite a lot buy not buying clothes that are "kind of nice" and "almost what I need" or even "totally useless but I just MUST have it".ReplyDelete
And yet when one is at home, one could save so much in wardrobe costs. Since one does not need working clothes. It is much cheaper to look good enough at home than "office good". And you do not need so much clothes because you have always time to do the laundry.
Thanks, Sanne. At what age can children wake up earlier at least 1 hour in order to travel to school? I was thinking a 6- year old child is too dependent on parental care if there is another nursery child too. How can children tolerate this traveling in their first school years? What experience can you provide, please? Even if you live in a city, how does it feel with being there on time if something happens to the children? i have proper skills to complete a good education at home but I just wanted to get a larger preview before starting school next year.ReplyDelete
Preoteasa Alexandra: Here in Finland kids go to pre-school at 6, and those who live on countryside usually have pretty long distance to school (I would say 30-60 minutes drive). And they have to wait for the transportation back home in the afternoon. There is usually communal transportation for them (school taxi), but if younger kids finish their school at noon and older at 3 p.m., the younger ones must wait.ReplyDelete
The kids seem to be doing pretty well. They just need good snacks with them -they are served school lunch but they need afternoon snack.
Here parents can also delay children's school start with one year, if they think their child is too young for his age. And amazingly enough, homeschooling is legal, yet very, very rare.
One thing popped to my mind, about why women want to go to work. I mean, maybe they do not want to, but feel that it is their duty? They feel guilty if they are at home and husband has to work "so hard" to provide them? I know I have felt guilt.ReplyDelete
And interestingly enough, they do not choose to make their husband's life easier by taking care of the home and being happy and relaxed. Oh no. They "help" their husband by going to work so they can both be stressed, tired and miserable and argue who's turn it is to make the dinner.
I have an old Housewife's Guide (from 1885) that talks about this subject. How women often say how they would like to ease their husband's burden and earn some money, too. And yet they fail to do what they really could do to help him; be as good and thrifty housewifes as possible.
Homeschooling in Holland is forbidden, with some exceptions. The official school age is 5, but the majority send their children to school at 4, which is free. Schools are divided into basic schools and middle schools which prepare for professional or scientific education and also into Christian and secular schools. Christian schools are often not very Christian but can, for instance, forbid girls from wearing Islamic head-coverings.ReplyDelete
I live in a place with plenty of good schools, yet some parents choose to send their children to the secondary schools of their choice in a big city, which, of course, costs a lot of money since transportation isn't free. Personally I wouldn't do it.
Thanks, Housewife from Finland and Sanne! Here pre-school starts at 6 too, nursery at 3, but after-school programs are the only option for avoiding the lunch delay at noon if the distance is longer. Serving lunch at school is possible only with after-school paid too. My idea was a short program from 8-12 for a 6-year-old because I don't agree with staying at school too much, this costs a lot and was made for working moms. I would preferably homeschool if this were possible, but it isn't. Homemaking requires some efforts to keep the mother at home and give the children a good education at least at a basic level.ReplyDelete
You are welcome! I think we've discussed school lunches before. Where I live most (basic) schools have a lunch break when children are supposed to go home and eat, they can stay over and then you provide them with take-away lunch, otherwise you have to pay for it (if they get it from school).ReplyDelete
I remember working 40 hours a week and coming home still able to kinda keep my household under control, but I was very bitter. My husband remembers more than I do. He said most days it took about 3 hours for me to be myself again. This is one reason why he is so committed to my staying at home. Another reason is, he says, he feels pride. When asked at work, "What does your wife do?" he proudly says "She stays at home." I don't understand it really, but he says he is proud we are able to keep our finances under control enough that I don't have to work. He provides as his job and is proud he can do so. Thank you for your post so much. I need encouragement too, and it helps to know others are as committed as we are.ReplyDelete
You are the lady from the blog I linked to, aren't you? Great you dropped by and I'm glad you liked this post. We all need encouragement from time to time!ReplyDelete
LoL, yeah that's me. Someone who reads my blog told me about yours. I'm going to be an avid reader of yours. I love the way you write!ReplyDelete
Thanks, you have a great blog, too! Wanna switch links?ReplyDelete
My husband is the same Peace At Home. He is so proud to be able to say his wife is a keeper of the home. He makes that possible. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks ladies for your blogs and comments.
Linda, you are welcome!ReplyDelete