This is the second posting in the collaboration series with That Stepford Gal about traditional/domestic living advice. Part One Traditional Living Advice for Traditional Gals: Common Questions, Answers, and Myths here. That Stepford Gal’s contribution to Part II: Dare to be Domestic: Traditional Living & Financial Management here.
Part II: Finances
1. Live where you can afford to live. For us this meant, at first, living by relatives and fixing up an old house to where we didn’t have to be out the expenses of paying rent when we were first married, had no property of our own, and were just trying to start out in life. If you have to live with your relatives temporarily, there’s no shame in that. Everyone has to start out somewhere and so long as you’ve made your stable relationship and are still being responsible then there’s no harm done. Also nice was that my husband got the opportunity to use traditional masculine skills in the way of building cabinets and a front porch, etc… as the home we got wasn’t all that wonderous. Start out small and work your way up. Over time if you stay together in a stable marriage and relationship, you will acquire more resources.
2. Two incomes don’t truly help you. My heart was broken beyond repair last year and, as many know, my husband just “dropped the ball” so to speak and I went out and temporarily took on paid employment. He just simply let me go and stopped being there for me or being my husband. It had absolutely no positive effect on our finances. We spent a considerable amount of money because nobody was home. We had no relationship as we were no longer as one, working as a team, but rather two independent individuals doing their own thing. Also, work schedules had to be worked around whenever my husband went in for an outpatient surgery and needed someone to drive him, when our child was out of school or otherwise sick, etc. Also, despite all the myths and rumors floating around out there, being a two-income household doesn’t help you on taxes (if you’re American). My taking on paid employment- even if only for a few weeks- nearly took our entire state check from us, unlike in previous years where we received a lot of money back when there was only one reported income. Our tax return on the state level was almost completely garnished as a result of us being a dual income household the previous year, even if it was only a temporary thing, and there was absolutely no benefit or increase in money received on the federal level whatsoever. My husband’s exact words: “It’s all because I messed up and let you go out and work.” Lesson learned.
3. Making everything from scratch isn’t always cheaper. I know a lot of homemakers out there are big on doing everything from scratch and on the extreme level some even go “off the grid” in an attempt to live an entirely old-fashioned lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but sometimes you’ll find that frozen prepared meals actually save you money on groceries, especially if you are a small family where everyone is a bit picky or doesn’t always like to eat at the same time (no shame in that). Of course, for families with a lot of children, sometimes scheduled family meals and cooking from scratch where you can buy in bulk helps. But in my experience, being a smaller family, it doesn’t always pay to cook from scratch, nor is it necessarily always healthier.
4. You can work out at home and avoid the expense of paying for a gym membership. Girls, to stay in shape, get you some measuring cups/spoons, a 50-cent notebook and a 25-cent ball-point pen and write down and measure those calories!! Also, you can exercise from home by buying an inexpensive piece of cardio equipment such as an elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike. If you live in an area where you can, go outside for a walk or run everyday or learn some form of aerobic dance or something where you can work out in the privacy of your own living room. But remember that no amount of exercise will compensate for the amount of food you shove down your throat!
5. You don’t have to eat out at fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations to have fun or spend time together. We’ve never had a vacation and it’s true that I’d like to take one someday, but when we do it will be at some point in the future when we have saved and prepared for it, and it will more than likely only be the two of us, as in a romantic type of thing without children (I know I didn’t like family vacations when I was growing up even though my mother was always dragging us along on one). Also, I find more enjoyment out of just packing up a small lunch on a sunny day and finding a nice place to sit under a shade tree by the lake or somewhere similar. There’s no need to spend huge amounts of money to attempt to entertain yourself or keep up with anyone else’s lifestyle.
6. Life is about more than just money or having “things.” Let me put it this way, imagine that you’re in the arms of your husband, your lover. You’re content and happy, perhaps even just having made love to each other. Time moves about outside, but you don’t care. You may not have as much money or as big of a house as the family down the street. But you don’t care. When you’re in love and content you don’t care what others think. Security, stability, peace and a deep contentment in your heart and the feeling of femininity deep in your core of loving and depending on a strong man. Being cherished, loved, taken care of! Isn’t life about finding love, contentment and peace? In the Western world, one income is enough to have your basic needs met plus oftentimes a little extra, plus a man has a reason to work, build and achieve whenever he has the love of a woman that’s all his, meaning you’ll even have more things to be able to enjoy life together even more as time goes on.
7. Plan ahead. As a young woman, start thinking about your future now. If you want marriage, or a family, or to find a good man, make that your number one priority. If you plan to build a life together and start out young, you’ll be ready and prepared to live off of one income because you have planned for it, in contrast to most in modern life who plan things the opposite (college, loads of debt, career, maybe a few kids later down the road and a heck of a lot of confusion over who is supposed to do what and what to do about the impossible debt hanging over your head!). Build your life up from scratch with a man when you’re young and reap the benefits of it later down the road. Let your femininity and intuition guide you and don’t let others steer you away from what you feel and believe in your heart- not even your own relatives. A woman’s real power is in her femininity. Trust and believe this with all you heart.
There are also some good tips from That Stepford Gal that I’d like to highlight as well. That Stepford Gal being as yet unmarried without children, I feel she has a very unique viewpoint, being a single gal still under the protection and support of her father. Some Tips from That Stepford Gal (in no particular order):
I. Live at Home: Living At Home – I just don’t get Australia and its odd social expectations sometimes, maybe this is just me being an immigrant again, though I just don’t understand the push for young adults to live on their own as soon as possible. If you don’t like your family and you actually like being alone or with friends, sure. If you need to move for work or study, sure. Do what you like. However aside from that, moving out and paying your own bills and rent is just money down the drain for making a ‘good social image’ of ‘independence’. Living with your family means you can serve your family and at the same time save more money for your future. You can learn ‘independence’ and being responsible by involving yourself, like I’ve said before, in the money management of your household and take on some roles for your parents/family.
II. You Don’t Have Deprive Yourself to be Frugal: Being frugal and living simply doesn’t mean literally having nothing and buying nothing. It doesn’t mean counting every dollar, not all the time (just some). I live in Australia and most of the ‘lower income’ people I see have the latest iPhone and can still eat out a lot! Having lived with a single parent since my teenage years, I’ve learned plenty about being money-smart. It doesn’t mean scrounging on everything. I have an updated phone and laptop actually, so does my sibling. It’s scrounging on everything else that you really don’t want. The key is: spend only on what you truly want and learn how to use saving systems.
III. Take Advantage of Prolonged Interest Items: [I know most people look down on buying anything on credit, but if done smartly and wisely and you don’t go overboard, I agree with That Stepford Gal that it can be a vital asset to a well-managed budget] If you want to buy good gadgets, it’s actually not that hard to afford them in Australia, I find. Phone plans are actually affordable, even for the latest phones. Don’t get the latest gadget every year, seriously, though every couple to three years, you can upgrade your gear and still keep to your budget through plans and prolonged interest. What is prolonged interest? It is when an item has 20+ months interest free on credit card. Don’t be an idiot and pay the minimum, divide the price by the amount of months minus one, so you will have an allowance of finishing your payments a month early (in case anything happens) and PAY it. Seriously, set a reminder on your phone or calendar and pay things off properly per month, Not only does this do wonders for your budget, it increases your credit rating and the maximum credit it can have. More credit, more shopping? No! This is just so you can get other gadgets on prolonged interest (once your current purchase is finished and you want to upgrade) or if you ever need a loan for an emergency.