Many women have written their success stories in coming home and leaving high paying jobs, careers, and even being the main breadwinners. They all said it was worth it in the end and it all worked out. Most of them will say that there is no reason a person cannot return home and make it on one income. I believe this to be true. However, it will take sacrifice, making out budgets and updating them frequently until you have the one that works. This lifestyle will require cutting and trimming over and over until your family is living under one paycheck. It will require creativity and learning from other frugal and thrifty men and women that live on one paycheck, fixed incomes, and small budgets.
This can be turned into a game that is fun and imaginative. It can be very exciting to simplify life and save tons of money, it builds pride to learn to cut cost and work with little but multiply it like Jesus and the loaves and fishes. It is fun to see how well you can budget at the grocery store and still feed the family nourishing foods or to get a much needed item at a hugely reduced price by waiting on sales, using coupons, or finding it at the thrift store.
All this sounds dorky until you are deep in it. That .25 cent candle becomes a big prize, the bag of school clothes that a friend hands you because her child outgrew the clothes and they are in excellent condition can be like Christmas, that coupon that gets you half off your favorite laundry detergent is a reason to celebrate.
This year we filed for $33,000 for the year but we live like we make over $40,000. I feel very middle class on our working class budget. All I can really do is share how we do it and how I budget (since I’m responsible for the family and household funds). For some people in other states this would be plenty, however, we live in Northern California where houses sell for an average of 300K to 600K and everything is expensive. For a family of four, it is said that it cost anywhere from $58K to $148K to get by in the US.
Hum…wellll, we are way under that and yet we sleep well at night with nary a worry.
We live in a cute little blue cottage in the older parts of a small city. It is a nice neighborhood with a few oddities as any proper neighborhood should have to keep the balance. We can walk to the charming old historic downtown where we visit a large pet store to visit a huge ancient turtle that roams the store so slowly I mistook him for a statue the first time. We also love the little candy store and I’m finding more little coffee shops and stores that are charming and remind me of the bay area.
We can take drives through farmland, vast walnut orchards, and hike in the forest after wandering through old gold mining towns. All within 30 or so minutes of our house.
I spend my days at home alone with two vivacious boys and bored or lonely I am not. Some times irritated and counting backward from ten, yes, but my days are full. I enjoy children’s films and cartoons, drawing, happy music and I entertain myself with novels, spiritual food, learning to homestead, writing fiction, and improving myself.
I have cut cost in all our utilities and give myself a small grocery envelop monthly. If I want to spend money I visit the local Goodwill or a good thrift store. Mostly I make do with what I have because I have so much.
Most of my lawns in the front and backyard have been replaced with large gardens and flowers, and table grape vines grow up my old pergola frame. All my fruit and nut trees are in bloom right now making for a lovely view in the mornings.
My kitchen is a bakery once or twice a week where I bake Amish bread, wheat bread, cakes, muffins, cookies, and make tortillas often. I now cook all the foods from scratch that I once bought from the frozen food section of the Super Market. I do not skimp on organics and clean foods for my family by buying in bulk and shopping from the produce sections to save hundreds. I build up my pantries from sales and shopping at Winco’s bulk section along with produce in season. I have found local eggs and soon local goat milk from a ranch up the road. If my garden doesn’t produce enough I will travel to a large farm that has seasons where you can pick your own vegetable for pennies. This will supplement my canning.
I spend my days reading novels, washing dishes, sipping coffee as I look out at my back yard that is now a food forest in the making, and I keep entertained with my writing projects, learning to homeschool my eldest, and rearranging my furniture to make my rooms more interesting.
I have had many household projects and Bali spends his weekends working in the yards to build our little veggie and fruit farm. Our home was a fixer upper and HUD house, thus very cheap. It’s been a year and a half of hard work, learning how to install a free sink that Habitat for Humanity was throwing out because of a crack in the back of the cabinet, learning how to plant trees in the right season, hauling truckloads of free horse manure home, raising hens not so successfully, learning to can jams and spaghetti sauce and praying my family and the neighbors I shared with didn’t get botulism. It has been long nights, early mornings, and almost every weekend doing labor.
Our mortgage makes it all worth it, being it’s less than some pay for a studio apartment on the wrong side of town. Our cars are old Toyota’s but free. The only bills we have now are solar, garbage, and water…and yes, I caved tonight and added Netflix back to our table of entertainment. We love our movies.
When I spend the morning coloring with my boys and drinking espresso in my cute little cottage, when I am picking a basket full of winter greens for an afternoon soup, when I pick up a bag full of good books for all of us from the library up the street, when I swim with the boys at the health club a mile up the road, when I bake a plump, moist chocolate cake in the middle of the week…I feel like life is pretty delicious.
We live on a small allowance, but through years of downsizing and simplifying, cutting cost often, finding ways to save on utilities and groceries, learning sustainability, and using what we have, growing what we need or finding things inexpensively, we find life very affordable.
Have we sacrificed? Yes, we have sacrificed stress and fear, an unstable future, and living beyond our means. We have gained true wealth beyond our imaginings.