Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have three best friends; one is an OB/GYN in training, another is a corporate lawyer, and the third works for a major publishing house. Each of these wonderful women earns six-figures (easy) and travels around the world for her job.
I make $31,500 a year, and never, in my entire professional life, have I been sent on a business trip on the company dollar.
I've come to terms with that.
But about three months ago, I realized I'm worth more than that. Much more. I realized that my college degree and my masters degree were being wasted at my current job, and that I needed to try my hand at something far more fulfilling.
What career, you ask? Stay-at-home mom to my 22-month-old daughter.
My husband is in law enforcement. It's a career that, while it has fabulous benefits and a great pot of gold at the end of the professional rainbow (ie, a pension), also does not pay well. Between us, we make just short of $70,000 a year. But my husband is a wonderful man-- an even better father-- and he agreed that he would like me to stay at home.
That's where the budgeting-- or rather, make that Budgeting, emphasis on the capitol "B"-- came into play.
We decided that we would take 6-9 months to see if living off of his income alone was really feasible. The goal? To save every penny of my income for that period of time, and use his and only his to pay for all of life's expenses... mortgage, car payments, groceries, utilities, etc. The one exception was daycare; we figured since that expense would be obsolete the day I told my boss buh-bye, we would continue to pay for it using my salary.
We are three months into this quasi-social experiment, and I already see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In those three months, we've managed to save enough of my salary to pay off one entire car loan. That will save us roughly $200 in the post-mommy-working world. We've also started prioritizing better. Dinner out? Not in the budget. XM radio subscription? Gone with the wind. But paying the gas bill on time every month (so as to avoid those costly late fees)? Absolutely.
This "one salary" experiment has changed us in other ways too. Believe it or not, we actually fight about money less. It sounds like an oxymoron. How could money be less of an issue when you have less of it to spend on life's little luxuries? But it's true. I chalk it up to having a goal that's bigger and more important than a cappuccino on the way to work every morning. DH thinks that since we have less money to go out, we're spending more quality time at home together and really connecting as husband and wife in a way we haven't in years.
I'm now 98 working days (yes, I have a calendar on my desk counting them down; my boss must think I'm pregnant again) away from reaching our goal. To borrow a phrase from Jennifer Love Hewitt, I "can't hardly wait". I feel like I've been training my whole life for the career I'm about to take on. I'm ready to get down on my hands and knees, roll around on the ground with my toddler, and make endless chalk drawings on the driveway.
And maybe, while I'm down there, I'll find a few pennies on the ground (face up, of course) for good luck... and the family budget.
Elizabeth is a full-time working mom and content writer for Medical Coding Certification, who gives advice on the pursuit of education and living a healthy life. In her free time (yeah right!), she enjoys chasing after her 2-year-old, who is usually chasing after the dog, who is usually chasing after the mailman. You get the idea.