February 10, 2011

Living on One Income

It might seem somewhat odd that I would read a book called Half-Price Living: Secrets to Living Well on One Income when we currently have two incomes and no plans of changing that in the near future. But I figure any advice on how to live well on one income applies just as well to people with two incomes, and we never know if life will go the way we plan. As Ellie Kay says in her book, "I dreamed of becoming a CEO for a major corporation in an effort to 'be' somebody...I found that the dreams God dreams for us are better than the dreams we dream for ourselves."

This is not a book telling you that you must live on one income because it's a woman's job to stay home with her children but rather a book of advice and encouragement for those women who want to stay home. She gives 7 steps to create a stay-at-home-mom and offers tips on topics like cutting your grocery bill in half, buying a home, and retirement planning. One thing I learned from this book that really struck me was that as many as half of a grocery store's weekly sales are unadvertised. I knew some deals were unadvertised, but half? I guess I need to look up from my grocery list more often.

While I did learn some things, I felt like the content of the book was a little disappointing. With less than 20 pages a chapter and a total of 168 pages, there aren't a whole lot of details on each topic; it's more of a starting point to further studying. And although it might be true that some moms who quit their jobs will automatically save money on things like childcare, wardrobe updates, transportation, lunches at work, or trips to the beauty salon, that wouldn't be much of a cost saver for me. I know childcare is an expense I don't have to consider now, but I almost always bring a lunch to work and don't think I would spend much less on clothing or haircuts if I weren't working outside the home. The only real money saver would be gas. Also, some of her money-saving tips, like house swapping to save money on vacations, just aren't things I would want to do.

After finishing this book, I didn't really feel any more convinced than I was before that being a stay-at-home-mom would work for me. The book gives general advice on a broad spectrum of topics, but it wasn't anything life changing. However, reading this book did lead to a discussion with Nathan about how soon we can be debt free and have a down payment for a house with our current income. We basically decided that there’s no reason I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom if I want to be, but the question is do I really want to. I can’t imagine giving up graphic design altogether, and although I could theoretically work from home, I don’t know how much designing I could do with a baby. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.


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