When you're not the breadwinner

By Jill McKenzie

February 7, 2018 1:56 PM

There are many single-income homes, and just as many reasons why families choose to have one earner and one homemaker.
Granted, it’s not always by choice. We saw this as the price of oil tumbled: many working parents, used to making big bucks in the patch, found themselves at home every day with the kids.
Although a blessing in its own right, forced time off can be a hard adjustment when you’re used to being busy and always on call.
Whatever the circumstances, whatever thought process went into the decision or necessity to stay home, one mustn’t feel completely powerless in the realm of their family finances.
In fact, one might look at it as an opportunity to hone one’s bargaining skills, work on self-development, and get real about saving money.
At least one should.
Staying home to raise a family isn’t for everyone, and this isn’t a debate regarding the pros or cons of these types of life decisions.
This is merely a conversation about the challenges and rewards of being the support system of the family, no matter the family dynamic you may have.

Be productive
Ask anyone that spends day after day with a baby or toddler, and they’ll likely tell you it can be hard to stay motivated to tidy the house, finish the laundry and make the meals when it feels like that’s all you do.
Throw in nights of interrupted sleep, hormonal changes and possibly adjusting to life as a dependent rather than a co-provider, and parenthood can be a challenge for the best of us.
Having a routine helps immensely to give your day structure, allows the kids to know what will happen next, and can give you incentive to get the less fun jobs done so that you have time for yourself.
Some tips for a productive schedule are: rise at the same time no matter what—if possible, before the kids so you have a few moments of quiet.
Have your day planned the night before, and know the first thing you’ll do upon rising. Limit time on the Internet, particularly social media sites.
Have a space in your house that is welcoming, tidy, and all your own.

Make time for your own goals
It’s easy to get caught up in everyone else’s needs and schedule. Keep an identity. Make time for you.
Choose a subject you want to learn more about and commit to lifelong learning.
Spend time with people that motivate you.
Motivate others. Declutter your home and your schedule, and take up free hobbies like walking and visiting the library.

Your job is not to earn, your job is to save
Think of every dollar you save as one you’ve earned for the family. Every dollar of income is important, treat it as such.
At different ages and stages of life, you should expect ups and downs in income, relationships, and “luck.”
Don’t despair.
Make your own luck by being determined to elevate your situation.
Take charge of your money and don’t allow it to trickle between your fingers mindlessly.
Track spending. If you have time to check Facebook you have time to write down every dollar spent.

Watch the flyers
Develop skills like cooking and baking at home.
Menu-plan according to the week’s specials and buy a little extra if you can.
Every store has a cycle of when things go on sale. Get in that rhythm and commit to never paying full price. 

Don’t shop for shopping’s sake
There are a million ways to spend money thinking it’s going to help you save.
A new day planner might be the ticket to a more organized life. Storage bins for closets, apps on your phone, you name it.
But when it comes down to it, not spending your money on any of those things is what will help the most.
Write your shopping list on the back of an envelope.
Trust me, it’s just as effective as a cute note pad! Every time you resist the urge to buy more “stuff,” add that to your mental tally of money saved.
While you may be unable to earn, you’re still capable of saving. Remember that.

Approach your finances as a team
Unfortunately, some couples fall into keeping score in their relationships.
It’s self-defeating to go out and blow money because your spouse bought something you don’t approve of.
Going further in debt to prove a point is, well, childish. And it’s going to come back and bite you in the end.
Talking money can be hard.
But what’s really hard is coming back from the devastation of bankruptcy or foreclosure.
Work on communication. Work on your budgeting skills. Work as a team, and be ready for good opportunities when they come calling.

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