Yesterday a writer from The Kaleidoscope came to my house to discuss our lives as a one-income family. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to give our story and share with her how we make it work.
She got the idea of a 4-week series after recalling a concept from many years ago:
Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.
This saying comes from the 1940's and the efforts to conserve during WWII. She wanted to write about how families are doing during these (so called) tough economic times, specifically families on one-income. My story will be covered under the "Or do without" week, meaning we do without a second income.
I told her my only reservations about doing this interview was the thought that I'd have to tell her we're doing without. "To be honest, we're not doing without! Unless you mean we don't have a yacht out on a lake, we are doing better and are more focused as far as finances than we've ever been."
"That's exactly what I hoped you would tell me."
I shared with her our journey after I became a stay-at-home mom. We didn't have a good plan or a budget, so for the first year after I had Sarah, we used a credit card if we found ourselves out of money at the end of the month and needed diapers, milk, gas, etc. I wondered if we'd ever learn how to live on what Josh was bringing home. Then I told her that we read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and it completely changed our way of thinking and gave us tools as far as budgeting. After that, we paid off both vehicles. We paid off both credit cards (JC Penney and Discover). I told her how freeing it is to only have our student loan left to pay towards (minus the mortgage) and how amazing it is that I can now share with others how to make it work. We consistently give to our church, and I'm able to give to other ministries, too. As Dave Ramsey's site says:
"Imagine what the People of God could do for the Kingdom of God if they were debt free."
And there is one key component that makes this all work that is truly a gift from the Lord. I used to be very prideful and very resistant to the idea of letting someone help me. Case in point: when I first quit my job, my mom offered to pay for our cell phone bill. We were all on one plan anyway, and the bill still went to her (because I've had the same phone number since I was 18). I wasn't really ok with the idea, but I wasn't sure how this would all work without that help. So I said ok. Eventually I realized that it's a blessing to both of us. She wants to bless me and I needed it! :o)
Another blessing is having friends willing to give me TONS of clothes for my kids. I'm always receiving bags of clothes from Sarah C and Sarah H. What would I do without them? I hardly EVER buy clothes for my kids. When I do laundry, sometimes I look at the dining room table where I fold clothes and look at all of them...it's just piles and piles of tops, pants, shorts, dresses, pj's, etc that have all been given to me.
She asked us about eating out and entertainment. We do have a small amount set aside each month for this, but we are also fortunate that our parents take us out every now and then, and that seems to help with our "let's go to a restaurant" bug we get from time to time! We aren't really movie goers, but I do love Red Box at McDonald's for the $1 rentals and the fact that people give us their free rentals off of their large sodas!
And usually once a summer, our dads take us to a Cardinals game!
With all that being said, the fact remains: I am human. I do get the "let's buy something" bug every now and then. It's especially tempting when we get large checks like Josh's summer school check or a tax refund. Those always go towards debt (which is how we paid off cars and credit cards relatively fast) but I sometimes think, "I sure could get a cute couch and love seat and even matching end tables and a coffee table with that!" But...
"The things of earth...will dim and lose their value..."
I'm not saying I won't have a nice couch and love seat someday! Just not yet. It's not time yet.
And I sometimes blow our restaurant budget on McDonald's dollar menu instead of saving all of it for one nice evening out with hubby. It's crazy. But I'm getting better!
The bottom line is that we have very supportive friends and family. We now have a system that works. We are content with what we have and we live within our means.
I'm looking forward to seeing the article which comes out May 28th.
Special thanks to the Causey's for being on our Financial Peace journey with us. And thanks mom, dad, mom-in-law, and dad-in-law for your support and even buying diapers on an occasion or two back when we didn't have this all figured out yet! :o)