Being broke: The sacrifice most stay at home Moms only complain about to their best friend.

Recently, I have been seriously considering going back in to the workforce. I don’t simply say, “go back to work” because believe me, as a stay at home Mom, I already work 24-7.  I just don’t receive a paycheck for it.  I gave up a pretty healthy pay check in order to stay at home with the kids.  I know it may sound selfish to focus on what I gave up but what a Mother and her children gain is talked about over and over again.  What we lose isn’t because we feel guilty.  So for this post, I have flipped guilt the middle finger.

I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays.  Thursdays are pay day.  When the bills that absolutely have to be paid are paid, I stare at what’s left and get that “I fucking hate this” feeling in my stomach.   I wonder on a daily basis where has my mind gone and what the hell did we do with that second income!!!!???  We get by and have what we need (most of time) but oh my God what a struggle financially it has been.  I’ve always shopped sales, never been a total “brand name” kind of girl and my husband and I have always lived within our means but damn…this is tough.

I didn’t know it was even possible to feed a family of four with $60 for a week until now.  My closest friends (and now all of you) know that if you drive by my house and the truck isn’t parked on the hill that is our driveway and instead on the flat spot further away from the house, that the gas light came on and we are simply out of cash but have to make it JUST ONE MORE DAY.  My dogs had hot pockets mixed with cheerios for breakfast yesterday because we were out of dog food and it was a day shy of pay day.  True story.  I have more than once gone to the change jar to dig out lunch money for my daughter.  Hand me downs have become a necessity.  Left overs are something I plan for now.  Ordering a pizza is a luxury and only happens maybe once every few months.  I put another hole in my belt so I can keep my pants up because buying new ones that fit my now skinny ass (the ONE good thing about constantly chasing a rambunctious little boy) is not an option.  The stairs and wood stove are barricaded with chairs and whatever else we can figure out to use because baby gates are just too damn expensive.  After having your second child, and when you’re broke, you realize baby proofing is slightly over rated anyway. I turn lights and electronics off more often now not because I’m being environmentally conscious, but because all I see is dollar signs when they have been left on.  I need alone time when I look at the weekly grocery flyers and cut my coupons because the running tab and meal planning that is gong on in my head at the same time is serious business.

When we crunched numbers to figure out if me staying home was even an option , we had no idea how every penny we would and would not have would count.  We didn’t factor in new tires and other maintenance for the vehicles that you simply cannot ignore, doctor co-pays and medical bills, kids THAT NEVER STOP EATING, light bulbs that blow, birthday parties/gifts, surprise dental work, a dog that would almost die from a mysterious illness and the vet bills that came along with that, hair cuts, gas money  ….the list goes on and on and on.  You really cannot plan for what life costs and believe me, the saying “shit happens” has become a mantra in  this household.  My credit card has been used way more than I would like and I don’t mean for luxuries….I mean like when I’m at the grocery store checking out and realize my running tally on how much I was spending was off and I have spent more than I have.  And while I’m on the subject of the grocery store (a.k.a. enemy number one), let me tell you how much (some) generic brands really suck and how I feel like such a douche bag when I have to say, “no we will buy this kind because it’s cheaper and it taste the same” to both my four year old and my husband when I know damn well REAL fruit loops kick “fruit rounds” ass!.  I used to horde food and household items. If we were low on something, I bought more and probably two more if it was on sale.  Now I squeeze the toothpaste tube against the sink counter until it is physically impossible for more to come out and add a little water to the hand soap to stretch it one or two more days.  It’s comical the things I do to get my family through week to week.  My husband and I have literally cracked up laughing (while drinking cheap wine) at how ghetto fabulous our life is now.

Having said all that…I will tell you that the stress and frustration that comes along with being broke all the time is no laughing matter.  I fucking hate it.  So much so that it is definitely worthy of dropping the f bomb.  I can’t stand robbing Peter to pay Paul and quite frankly I’m sick of cooking every night.  Here comes the selfish part but I won’t apologize for it.  I hate that I can’t buy things that make my life easier or more convenient and comfortable anymore.  I mean stupid things like Clorox wipes or going to the chiropractor.  I hate that I carry around a purse that has visible tears all over it.  It annoys me that I felt guilty for buying myself new underwear last week.  Until then I seriously some how convinced myself that folding down my preggo granny panties and pre baby (I was almost 30lbs heavier) undies was “just fine”.   I just want to go to dinner with friends and not regret it when the credit card bill comes in.  I HATE THAT I BUY GENERIC CEREAL AND MAYONAISE!!!  I miss K CUPS…who likes to brew a whole freakin’ pot when all I want is one damn cup of coffee.  I’m pissed off that there is an unfinished project in EVERY room of my house.  SCREW YOU twenty somethings on house hunters with your $450,000 budgets…WHY do I keep watching that damn show! I HATE that my husband works so hard and makes more money than he ever has but we are worse off financially than ever before.  And even though I know he isn’t complaining, I hate that the only thing I can give him for his birthday is some homemade brownies.  I miss getting pedicures.  It annoys the shit out of me that I have all this time with my kids but no money to go anywhere or do anything.  I miss having highlights in my hair.  I can’t even afford the damn box kind WITH a coupon.  I hate that I have to factor in whether or not I have gas money.  I wish I could buy my daughter pretty things when we go to the store like I used to but I can’t now because that would mean I can’t buy something we need like milk or butter.  SHIT I miss money.  I was kind of spoiled I will admit it…but I could be.  I worked hard to be.  Now I work even harder and live pay check to pay check.  And quite honestly, I kind of want all that back.  Does that make me shallow.  Maybe.  But at least I’m honest.

Look, I do honestly enjoy going to the library or playground or playing in the backyard with my kids.  And most days I could care less that I can pull my pants down without unbuttoning them.  However, the constant stress of paying bills past the due date and having to put goals on hold like owning furniture that your not embarrassed to let your guests sit on or buying a house so your son and daughter don’t have to share a room really wears on you.

So I am back to my original thought … to go back to work or not??  Since having kids, I’ve been on both sides of the fence having worked and now not working but that somehow does not make this decision any easier.  And there are definitely other factors that will play in to figuring this all out but I’ll save that for another post because really, money is a huge part of it.  It’s easy to say “money is just money” …until you are seriously concerned the last sheet of toilet paper will get here before pay day.

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17 thoughts on “Being broke: The sacrifice most stay at home Moms only complain about to their best friend.

  1. As everyone knows there are ups and down everywhere. No one can miss that and thats what makes gives us the living edge. Just go with it and things will not work out your way but you will be knowing how things work and fine-tune yourself accordingly. After all it’s a wonderful life!

    • Thank you so much for that! I love the idea of “fine tuning myself” along the way. That has been sort of my mission at this point in my life but I wasn’t seeing my current situation as an opportunity. Almost a deferent rather. Thanks for the point of view.

  2. to answer your question: yes. it does make you shallow. but the beauty of your introspection cancels it out. your post was funny (in the been-there-done-that sort of way) and heartwarming. know that i’ve lived that way my whole life and only splurge when i have a surplus. and as always, something comes along to make me regret the splurge. but this is my life. and this is your life. a second income would be a very good idea (even considering the logistics: child care, new resume, interviews, etc). sorry, but you just don’t have ghetto DNA. accept it. i do have the ghetto gene. i live for cheap wine! i go out of my way to wait for sales at the wine and spirit shop down the street. i just bought 12 bottles of Purex,(not at the wine shop) 50oz @ $1.99 each, plus 5 cents discount for each shoprite canvas bag i used. i live alone, no kids. so what the fuck do i need with 12 bottles of detergent! but i have the money now, so i buy what i need in case something happens, (so what exactly could happen that would require me to have a Kuwaiti-sized barrel of detergent? i don’t know, but i’m prepared in case the dirty clothes & towels apocalypse occurs) and i don’t even own a coffee-maker, or a blender, or a juicer, or electric can opener. i don’t own a set of matching or complete set of pots and pans. and furniture. please. i have a sofa, a small dining table and a bed, oh, and the rest is hand me downs. and i can never be embarrassed because i don’t invite people over (gee, that’s surprising). and i have never had a mani or a pedi, not that i can’t afford it (the very thought of some stranger (who is probably a trafficked human) touching my fingers and toes just grosses me the fuck out, especially knowing that they probably didn’t sterilize their equipment; helloooooo hepatitis). and the list goes on (seriously. i had to edit a lot out). there are so many things that a normal household (or normal woman) has, that i have never acquired and have never had a strong desire for. but that is the hidden blessing of growing up poor, you learn to do without. if you know what it is like to Have, then when you Have Not, life can be just agonizing. if having certain things bring a smile to your face, or comfort to your soul, then you should get off of the fence and find any way necessary to get those things back. so return to the work force, if for any other reason, to stop having to buy generic cereal (yuck. i’m black and even i don’t buy that crap. that’s too ghetto for even me:) and by the way, i’ve used up all of my creative energy writing you (not really, but no one has to know that), so i’m reblogging you, so i don’t have to stay up til 7am again writing the ‘perfect story’. i’d rather spend the night reading other people’s blogs and responding. thank you for sharing. and if i’ve totally freaked you out, that’s ok, it’s what i do best.

  3. Believe me, you did not freak me out…i’m rollin’!! When I read this, “..if for any other reason, to stop having to buy generic cereal (yuck. i’m black and even i don’t buy that crap. that’s too ghetto for even me:)” I choked on my coffee I was laughing so hard. I can remember being really young and thinking that I will never buy bagged cereal. It’s a sure give away that you are poor…I hated eating that cardboard crap. Authentic ghetto DNA I do not have … maybe I should refer to my broke ass as white trash fabulous. I did cook fish sticks and French fries for dinner the other night…isn’t that like the trailer hoods last supper? I grew up in the middle of no where Georgia, living a story engulfed in dysfunction. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and was shipped out to upstate ny, in order to bury secrets, that I learned there was more than one kind of cheese…and most, scratch that, none of it is supposed to be orange. Oh my God, I was dying at the Purex extravaganza you went on. Hysterical. And if I ever do get to enjoy a pedicure again, I will probably be kicked out for laughing while asking the guy with my foot in his hand if he was “trafficked” in here. You’re response was greatly appreciated this morning as my darling baby boy kept me up all night and I am cranky as all hell. And by the way, thanks for supporting my shallowness and encouraging me to get the things I want if that’s what make me happy. No one else (including those closest to me) said that. I have decided to stay home though. A little more soul searching pushed me off the fence finally.

    • OMG! i am so ghetto that i did not know fish sticks and fries were ghetto. i looooooooove that meal. i am literally salivating right now. oh and heavy on the ketchup, mmmmmmmm. our British cousins call it fish and chips (i watch EastEnders, a british soap opera. don’t tell anyone, but i’ve been a brit-com fan since Monty Python). did you know Ore Ida makes the best microwave french fries. and they are only 99 cents a package and take only 4 minutes to cook. Delish! i stopped buying them because i’m eliminating processed foods from my diet (as i get older, my diet requires more management, since i am still single and looking. but the irony is that the more weight i gain, the bigger my ass and tits get -which i love-, but also the bigger my gut gets -which i hate-, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), and when i bought the fries, i would have stacks of them in the freezer, like the Purex. insane. ghetto desert for the kids (which i still love) could be cinnamon toast (this is one of the few times you can buy generic and it doesn’t matter, bread: when it’s toasted, it all tastes the same): toast the bread, spread on butter, sprinkle on sugar and top with cinnamon. kids love making this dish themselves, i know i did as a kid. another ghetto treat is fried bread with syrup: put a pat of butter in a frying pan, let it melt, place in a slice of bread, let it brown, flip it over, let it crisp, take it out, place it on a plate and drizzle Log Cabin maple syrup over it. to die for. french toast was a luxury growing up as eggs were not always available (which is probably why i rarely buy eggs, since i consider it a luxury purchase). another cheap meal, that i still love, is pork and beans and rice. but you must have Campbell’s or Bush’s baked beans, no generics! and if you can’t do hot dogs, fried up bologna works just as well. sorry to go on and on about cheap but delicious foods, but since you’re gonna stay at home, you may not be aware of these cheap dishes. and although i have no kids, i’ve spent the last 3 years as a nurse working in people’s home caring for their sick and special needs kids. so i know the family dynamics when money is tight because medical bills take the priority over brand name groceries and cable tv. as a sidebar: working in people’s homes, i am privy to EVERYTHING that goes on in their home. how is it that a married couple can have the same argument 5000 times? i don’t get it. this is probably another reason why i am single, because after the 3rd argument over toaster crumbs on the counter, the toaster is going out the fucking window or his ass is going out the fucking window! i don’t have that kind of patience. i just don’t. which is why i don’t have or want kids. with the constant running and the screaming and always wanting to be fed. oh my god, i couldn’t take it. soooooo… short story long, i applaud your decision to stay home. i would also applaud your decision to return to work. it’s not really what you chose, but the deep, serious, soul-searching questions you asked of yourself, to get to your decision. no shallow person ever asks if he/she is shallow. true shallow people don’t know they are shallow. i believe you are a very strong woman, and most likely a very wonderful mother and wife. and also a great blogger too:) ok. time for me to dig into my kale and spinach salad, yaye:(

  4. The fact that another adult lists cinnamon toast as one of her favorites makes me way happier than it should. I have been married for only five yrs but been with my husband for 14 yrs. It’s truly amazing how bread crumbs can send you over the edge but it happens. I say next time they start an argument as ridiculous as that one, just pick something, anything (not the child though) up and throw it across the room. It will get them to shut the hell up and probably make them laugh…something they probably don’t do enough. I can tell you this…I know I would love to drink a glass of cheap wine and watch Absolutely Fabulous with you. I look forward to reading more from you and hopefully you’ll offer feedback when you can.

  5. Pingback: Coffee Dates: A Slice of Sanity for a SAHM. | W.T.F.

  6. I am so late on this because out of desperation, I googled “broke stay at home mom”. LOL Google has now become my best friend, the one that can commiserate with me because I can’t afford real friends. I guess my old friends are pretty shallow. I can’t afford to have BBQ’s with them or make them dinner, I can’t afford to go out with them, and sometimes, I can’t even afford to drive over to their homes because of gas. This has had a very serious effect on my social life. Which is to say, I do not have one. I never really thought it would get this bad for me, but it has. I wanted nothing more than to start a family and now that we have I feel like instead of being able to enjoy it, I’m stressed out to the max over money. My self esteem is low because I can’t afford to buy clothing that fits and YES it matters and I don’t think that makes me shallow. We live in a society that respects nice things and I feel like since I don’t have niceties, I don’t get respect. It’s dumb, but it’s true. I would go back to work but I can’t afford childcare for my two children. So I must just sit back and deal with it for now until they’re both in school and my income will actually make a difference. I can relate to this so very much. Almost every single word. Thank you for putting it out there so that people like me (us) don’t feel so very alone in this struggle. Solidarity.

    • Girl I hear everything you are saying. I’m over two yrs in to the SAHM gig and money has remained a constant source of stress. What I would give to go buy some new clothes guilt free! The sacrifice of being broke is underappreciated for sure. And add that stress to keeping little people alive all day and good lord…how do we do this??!!!

  7. I’m here also due to a bout of desperation that has been in the works for the past several years. I am a SAHM to 3 children and am so broke, I, too, have had to park my car in the street rather than the driveway and have dug into the loose change jar in order to scrap money up for a loaf of bread at 7Eleven since the “real” grocery store is too far away and my van doesn’t have enough gas to make the 4 mile round trip. I have nothing nice to wear to my daughter’s Kindergarten graduation tomorrow and we’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul so often that Peter is now flat broke as well. Ugh. I hear ya on the House Hunters Bullsh*t. My next door neighbors, a lovely middle-aged couple, love to let the world know that their newlywed 20-something daughter and son-in-law just bought a huge 4 bedroom house for her their 1 kid, meanwhile, my husband and I struggle to cram our 3 kids into a teeny house with not enough bedrooms and a small mortgate that we STILL have trouble paying every month. Ugh Ugh Ugh. Does this ever get any easier?? I gave up a great paying job in order to stay home, which I don’t regret, but now, I can’t find a decent job that would pay the same, PLUS cover the cost of childcare/after school care for 3 children. This is too hard sometimes.

    • I hear you loud and clear girl. I spent a total of 2 yrs and 4 months as a sahm. The constant stress and lack of stimulation in my own brain led me back to the work force this past April. I am earning almost 4 dollars an hr less than I was making before. It’s discouraging but at the same time it just feels so damn good to have the structure and challenge back in my life that you won’t hear me complaining. And don’t even get me started on daycare. Being a sahm is something I will treasure till the day I die. But 2 yrs was enough. My relation is better for going back to work and so is my mental health. And guess what…my kids are thriving. Hang in there momma and follow your heart. Don’t forget to factor yourself and what is really important to you in to the equation when thinking about your current situation and the future.

  8. Wow, when I read this I almost forgot I wasn’t the person that wrote it. My husband and I waited to have a baby so we could save money and plan wisely. I left my job 1 month before having our son. Now, almost 14 months later, finances are as tight as ever. My husband works 60 hours a week and also makes more than he ever has and yet I feel guilty just paying the water bill because I absolutely hate spending his hard earned money. It comes and goes so quickly. I have considered going back to some sort of job now that he’s turned 1 but I don’t want to lose my time with him. We planned on having another next year and while money is low I am still hopeful. I know money isn’t everything but you don’t realize how much better it is with it until you don’t have it. We do make ends meet but like you said there’s always something to pay for that you didn’t consider before. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I’m more determined than ever. Thank you so much for a great article. While sadly true I couldn’t help but laugh and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • I’m actually pretty glad to hear you say you laughed. I was at a point in my life when I wrote that where if I didn’t laugh, I’d get lost in a pool of my own tears. I ended up being home for a little over two yrs. I’ve been back to work now for just over three months. I will never regret the time I had home with the babes; however, being back to work feels healthier for me. The constant stress of money really took a toll on me and my relationship…I eventually had to just say enough is enough. My husband never once said I should return to work but now that I have, I can see a certain amount of weight lifted off of him. That is priceless. Being home is so hard on so many levels! Don’t be too hard on yourself for venting or feeling frustrated, it’s HARD! I learned so much about need vs. want during the time I was home. Probably even more so now that I am looking at it in hindsight. You are definitely not alone my friend. And I am so glad you found this article and grateful you took time out to comment.

  9. Holy crap……I literally just sat here for a few minutes taking all that in. Its like were the exact. Same. Person. Its almost twilight zonish. Tingles. Applause. Thank you. Thank you for existing. There are no words… I am so glad someome out there gets this. My husband is in school. Someday we hope we will be out of this hole. Could be a few years who knows. We used to be in the military. Had two steady pachecks. Ate out oh of course every night.stupid with extra money. 4 years later and three kids. A pair of jeans that are 4 sizes too big and a belt i literally keep adding a notch too. The fact that you are going through the same exact thing brought me to tears man. Oh waitbi have a pair of lime green workout shorts three sizes too big but hang on to the hips enough to exercise which is the only thing that distracts us from the fact that we havent even been able to afford the 3$ wine in a few weeks. That one hurts. Lots of cabbage bought with quarters from the change pot. A nice home and nice cars. But inside its like dear God please dont let any of the neighbors notice me wearing the same clothes every day because its all i have. When i havent washed my hair in a week because i have to conserve the kids soap so they have some omg im gonna cry again lol. And holy shit when one thing goes wrong does everything have to go wrong?! Someday. We pray this is gonna end. But for now. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for letting us know you feel what were going through. Much love to ya 🙂

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