Would you give up TV for your family? How about your car?
I can’t count the people who are shocked and surprised that we make it as a one-income family. The four of us live (quite well) on less then $60,000 a year. How do we do it? That’s what everyone wants to know.
It’s really pretty simple. We prioritize. We have one television. It’s a little boxy thing with a VHS player built it. I get the kids used tapes at Goodwill to play in it. We also have a $30 DVD player and a few discs we’ve gotten as gifts. With the exception of the Harry Potter movies, I did buy those, one at a time, after finishing the books. Oh, and Little Boy saved his own money to get Puss in Boots. DD and I both drive cars pushing 20 years old, but we do spend some money keeping them in tip-top shape. We do get take-out once in a while but nearly everything we eat is cooked at home from scratch. Oh, and we have a little house in an unpopular part of the county.
We decided we could get a big TV and watch all the cable re-runs we want when the kids are grown. But they will only be little once, we won’t be able to go back in time to spend more time with them. Neither of us is going to be on our death bed wishing we’d only driven new model cars or had flashier jewelry.
So we make sacrifices. We watch free shows on-line. We shop thrift stores and case lot sales. I grow a large garden and spend months putting up the produce from it.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. We have time with our children. We have energy for each other.
I could go back to work, there can be a lot of pressure to be a “have it all woman” and go after a career. Then we could pay strangers to watch the kids while they watch TV. We could buy a few flat screens. We could get new cars. We could take vacations. We could get an entertainment center. We could wear trendy, brand name clothes. We could go out to eat and to the movies. But then we would not see our kids. We would come home tired, eat our take-out, zone out in front of the tube. We would need vacations and have to rely on those clothes to make us feel better about our lonely lives.
We may live frugally but we are content and comfortable. The house is small but it is warm and cozy in the winter and cool and relaxing in the summer. DD can comes home from a long day of using his brain to spend an hour with the kids in the backyard. And then he gets a home cooked meal. I may not have a budget for sexy nighties but I have time and energy for my man. The kids don’t have fancy electronic toys and games, they have old computers DD fixed up with a few educational games so old they’re now free, and, most important, they have parents who are there, who have the time to read to them, play with them, teach them.
We are not rich. We do not have some secret to have it all. We just decided what we want our lives to be about. What about you? What do you want the theme of your life to be?