Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Budgeting Can Save Your Kids

When my wife and I were dating before engagement, one of the issues we discussed (and one of the issues every person dating for marriage should discuss) was who would be earning the income and how. I was open to discussing any arrangement that would not have my kids raised by strangers. My wife strongly desired to "stay home" with our kids once we had them, and I would be the one who was busy earning the income. That was fine by me.

I dare say that most married couples who stick their kids in day orphanages (daycare) don't have to. There are those who want to (including some where one of the spouses does not work outside the home), but many more who say they don't have a choice. They do have a choice - almost all of them. It just requires them to do things differently, and they don't want to make those changes or don't have the imagination to see the possibilities. There's working different shifts, working at home, and there's having one spouse be the sole income earner.

Is it harder for one person to support the family than it used to be? Probably. Ironically, more women being in the workforce means more labor supply; more people are competing for jobs. This allows employers to offer lower pay.

It is possible, though, especially when one considers the ways to cut back on expenses, from frivolous things or extravagances to finding bargains. How much income is being netted by that second earner once the costs of taxes, commuting, wardrobe, daycare, etc. are removed?

In a recent blog entry, Dr. Laura writes about some of the problems associated with having both spouses work outside the home. Then she goes on to give some tips for stretching and income.

1.Ride a bicycle to most places close to home. That gives you needed exercise that two jobs doesn't permit and it saves money on gas.
Walking can be good, too. The cost of driving also includes maintenance and other costs. This is yet another reason to live in a neighborhood where people aren't routinely robbed or assaulted walking down the sidewalk.

2.Rent from Netflix instead of spending ridiculous amounts going to local movie theaters and wasting money on sodas and popcorn.
There have never been more options for low or no-cost entertainment. I'm pretty sure I, and most husbands, would be plenty entertained if all we did with our free time was play with the wife.

3.Shop discount stores for clothes, and don't buy new wardrobes each season.
Paying a lot of money for clothes can massage the ego, but how often does the most expensive clothing make enough of a real difference? I also recommend getting certain kinds of furniture from a Salvation Army store and yard sales. I can understand not wanting someone's used furniture that is covered in cloth, but other than that, it is good.

4.Take vacations close to home that are filled with togetherness rather than filled with expenses.
Again, there have never been more options.

5.Plan meals and plan your grocery shopping so you aren't paying extra for last-minute purchases.
My wife does this, and clips coupons, and does everything else she can to bring down our grocery bill. It's like game to her, and she's very good at it.

6.Don't buy sugary, fatty, unhealthy foods. That saves a LOT of money!
Some are cheap, though. Yes, it can be less expensive to buy whole fruits and vegetables and to buy staples rather than buying junk food and fast food, and it is better for you. But you have to actually eat the food, not let it rot. Surely you can find enough of such foods that you like.

7.Sit down with your checkbook for a month and see where the money is going.
Yes. Your checkbook and your credit cards.

I'll add a few:

Pay your bills on time. Who needs late and interest charges?

Are you paying for Internet, phone, and TV? Have you called up your providers and asked for a deal in exchange for signing up for a certain length of time? Or how about telling them you are thinking about going to a competitor or discontinuing the service? They usually offer deals.

Are you paying for magazines or memberships that you don't regularly read/use? Let it lapse.

Are there any you want to add?

Kids grow up fast. You don't want to miss it. Kids need parental guidance and bonding, too. It is possible to make it work.

And for those of you who are marriage-minded but not yet married or parenting, think about these things. Save up and choose your spouse and where you'll be living wisely so that your kids will not be raised by strangers.

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