My husband and I had a long drive back this weekend with three sleeping kiddos in the car after visiting Cedar Point for a conference, and started talking about our finances (and really, how we got from HERE to HERE.)
A long time ago (way back in 1996 to be exact), we decided as a young married couple that we wanted me to be able to stay at home with our kids. So, when we bought our very first little-fixer-upper house (even though I was working), we based every financial decision we made on my husband’s income alone. (I never made much more than minimum wage, so it wasn’t all that difficult a decision in some ways!)
In fact, when I sat down to interview for a better paying position in my first job, the interviewers asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Naively stupidly (at age twenty-one), I replied, “Um, I really just want to be a mom.”
Yup, moving up the ladder to success with that position clearly wasn’t going to happen.
That very clueless comment was the truth though, and shaped the way we looked at every financial decision we were faced with. It made us purchase homes that we could afford on just one income (even while we both worked outside the home), and forced us to stay frugal when our children were small as we were determined to stick it out.
Fast forward 18 (really?) years.
All those things I learned in those early days apparently paid off, and I’m lucky enough to write about them for a
few several hundred thousand readers each month. (Can I just tell y’all that’s crazy?????) And while this blog does now earn an income (learn more about how to make money blogging HERE and HERE), we’ve chosen not to spend any of the money we make from it.
I wish I could give you just a taste of what it feels like to have that financial freedom after years of working towards it. It’s still so weird to know that if something unexpected comes up our finances are in decent shape (which was an incredible blessing during our recent move!), and I wish I could just let you feel for a moment the peace that comes with that.
Do you know what’s the coolest thing about our decision? That one choice has given me so much freedom as a business owner. (I really don’t think of myself as a business owner, more a crazy-momma-who’s-too-excited-not-to-share-a-deal-with-you all day long? Ahem.) Our choices early on gave me the opportunity to learn this crazy blogging thing; it gave me wisdom in an area that some folks don’t really understand; and it gave me the ability not to worry about making an income while I was learning the ropes of blogging and running a business.
I have no idea where your family’s finances are at. I do know that we are incredibly blessed to be in this position after many years of hard work, and I know that it simply won’t work for some folks.
But, maybe you’re a young couple just looking at your future and trying to determine where you really want to go. Maybe you’re a mom thinking about re-entering the workforce now that your children are a wee bit older. Or maybe you’re a family that does have two incomes, and have never considered trying to live on one and allowing the second to go towards savings.
I encourage you to maybe consider what life would look like with just one income (if that’s even a possibility – I know it absolutely won’t work for everyone!) Even if you have two incomes (which is fantastic if both of you love your jobs – I’m not at all against mommas working here!), consider what would happen if you continued those jobs and chose to live on just one income to allow the excess to bulk up your savings account?
I firmly believe that the only way we did it in those early lean years was by clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads. Even today our grocery budget rarely exceeds $300 a month, and I talk to so many folks who are spending two to three times that on groceries alone (almost enough to be a second income alone!) Please understand that I know this won’t work for everyone, but as we’ve watched the peace that’s come from years of penny pinching, I guess I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you something that we (truly accidentally) learned along the way.
Your turn now? I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little afraid to share this post as I hate the thought of offending anyone, but I’m so thankful (truly, overwhelmingly thankful) for the peace that we’re finally feeling after so many years of penny pinching. I just wanted to mention it as a possibility to consider, and would love to hear your thoughts too.