Getting finances organised and controlled is one of the early actions of most simple lives, even for those who have no need to budget their money. There are many people who strive to live more simply while earning a good living. They need to practise moderation and reduce the stuff they're surrounded by. The challenge for these people is to live to their values and, like those of us who have to budget, get the money organised so we can concentrate on the important task of living.
The last bowl of summer's fresh green beans.
While not everyone gets married or lives with a chosen partner, most of us do and that can be an important part of a strategy that supports and assists living on a budget. It is a common assumption nowadays that it takes two wages to raise a family. But for many families, where it has been decided that one parent should be at home with the children, they have made it work on one income, even with a number of mouths to feed. If you are undecided about whether this would work for you, sit for a moment and work it out.
If you have to pay for child care, transport, work clothes, hair cuts, makeup etc, and your job pays a minimal amount, it will probably save you money not to work. Always do the sums. Don't just assume that any job will be good for your family. Make sure it will actually be worthwhile. If your work related expenses add up to $300 a week and you're making $350 or $400, ask yourself if that is a valuable use of your time and efforts, because there is another way.
Real raspberry jelly.
If the parent earning the smallest wage stays home, it is then their job to run the home like a small business. It is their job to make a budget and stick to it, scan the flyers for grocery bargains, stockpile, learn the skills necessary to make healthy bread and nutritious meals from scratch. On these things alone, the home will function on less money. If you were going to earn fifty or a hundred dollars from that job you were offered, you should be able to save that amount with prudent shopping and cutting back.
Unless you are super organised, your grocery bill will increase when you work. You'll buy different foods because you need the convenience of them. You'll need to streamline your household activities because you won't have as much time to spend on chores and the children. Convenience foods usually make an entrance in those circumstances.
If you're in the position now of trying to decide whether to work, give this a try before you make the decision. Of course, there will be those who tell you that you should work, but you don't have to listen to them. If you're young and have always thought of yourself as a worker then being at home with your children will be just the challenge for you. You will be taking control of your family money and it will be your job to buy everything you need to stay happy and healthy on budget, you will pay the bills, on time, now and every month, you will make important choices every day about what your family consumes and it will be your job to stretch every penny until it hurts.
This is an interesting and significant job. You'll re-skill yourself in the kitchen, you'll learn to sew, mend and knit. Instead of buying new curtains or dishcloths, you'll make them. Gone are the days when you'd clean with spray and wipe chemicals, in your home that cleaning is done in a gentler way. You'll be cutting up old sheets for cleaning rags, sewing on buttons, repairing rips and generally making everything last longer. If you've never taken control of your home before it will be very liberating and exciting. Despite what your friends say, you won't be bored because your days will be filled with a purpose - to make you home comfortable and warm, to teach yourself life skills and to show your children, by example, how real life is.
Homemade soap and natural bristle scrubbing brush.
If you're trying to decide on whether to go back to work, or if you're already working at home but have stalled a bit because you have no role models and are unsure of your first or next step, I'm here to say that being a homemaker is enriching and life enhancing. It can help make your family a strong and tight unit, it can help provide the warmth and security necessary for a growing family and it might be the making of you. It was for me.
This way of life is not just for those who choose to stay at home. If you're newly married or in a relationship with no children and you're both working, try living off one wage and using the other to pay off debt. I know Little Jenny Wren and her family have always lived this way, even when she was working outside the home. I think those of you who read her blog would agree, she has built a beautiful and joy-filled life. This is not just a great budgeting strategy, it is a good way of moving towards the life you want to live.
So if you're at this point of your life, dive in. It will not be easy - you'll work more - but it will be satisfying, enriching and life enhancing work. You'll be stepping away from what is expected of you, but that will give you the unique opportunity to build the life you want, instead of trying to fit into the one size fits all life that is on offer in every shop, on every main street, in every Western country. Don't listen to the naysayers - building a life at home is an active and positive step towards a way of life that gives more than it takes. Dive in.