Currently, I make less money than my wife. This doesn't mean that I couldn't be our family's breadwinner, and frankly, I'd like to be, but right now it just doesn't make financial sense. According to a recent MSN Money article, a Pew Research Center study "found women are the sole or primary providers in 40% of U.S. homes."
The article went on to note that, "Fifty-one percent of respondents said children are better off with the mother at home. Only one-third agree that the kids are just as well off if the mother works, the study found." Meanwhile, that article states that "Those views aren't keeping moms out of the workplace, however. About two-thirds of women with kids younger than 6 were either working or looking for a job, up from 39% in 1975, the study notes."
Our family has found that no matter who is working outside the home, it really isn't that hard to have one of us stay home with the kids.
Cutting costs and making sacrifices
We're good at finding ways to cut costs and deny ourselves a little immediate gratification from time to time. And frankly, making such small sacrifices really doesn't bother us too much. Sure, we'd like to go out to eat a little more often, and a new car would be nice, but in the scheme of life, those things are really such a big deal.
Making a meal at home takes a little extra work, but we can do it for about a quarter of the price going out to eat would be. Those annual car repair bills of $700 or so hit hard when they arrive, but they're better than $400 monthly car payments.
Where we save
There are certain budget areas in which we find the savings adding up and that really help us survive with just one of us working outside the home.
We cut most in areas like meals out, cell phone plans, our cable package, travel, and groceries. These cost-cutting endeavors often don't take much in the way of effort. Often just shopping in a different place or not having to talk to or text someone constantly is enough and isn't really a big deal for us.
For example, according to ConsumerReports.org, "The average cell-phone user spends about $600 a year on mobile service, while families that talk, text, or use other phone features more than average can spend upward of $1,800." With our land line though, and a pay-as-you go cell (for emergencies or travel use only), we pay only about $35 a month or just over $400 a year. For groceries, the USDA puts the monthly moderate-cost grocery plan at $861.20 for a family of four, but we average about $250 a month by doing most of our shopping at Aldi and Wal-mart and avoiding food waste. In comparison, this saves us $7,334 a year.
Costs of a job
While a job can come with an income, it can come with substantial expenses as well. Maybe one of the most substantial costs comes with child care. Having two kids that require some sort of daytime supervision, this would come as a severe cost were no one home to watch them during the day. With annual cost of child care in our area coming in at around $10,000 to $13,000 depending upon the age and needs of the child, this could put a pretty big dent in the family budget even with both of us earning incomes outside the home. Factor in the cost of a second vehicle (since we're currently a one-vehicle family), and that would be another $3,000 to $4,000 (at least) a year in transportation-related costs. Include things like work clothing, taxes, meals, and similar expenses that are often incurred at jobs outside the home, and the income earned from such work may largely be negated.
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