“Poor, but happy”

Since I have virtually no readership, this post is unlikely to draw the wrath of any Stay-at-home moms (SAHMs). However, if I actually had a platform, rotten tomatoes might be lobbed at my head. I have lots of friends and even some relatives who are SAHMs. My daughter used to spend 2 days per week with a wonderful SAHM who treated my Baby Girl as her own. Heck, I was raised by a very good SAHM. I have nothing against them. If truth be told, I am a little jealous. Not because it is an easy job–my 6 weeks of maternity leave demonstrated that quite well–but because it is a rewarding job. Motherhood can be very fulfilling. So, this isn’t a tirade against SAHMs. Nope, it’s a different tirade altogether. It’s about whiney/judge-y SAHMs.

I see Facebook posts all the time from SAHMs who say cliche things like “We are poor, but happy!” or “I don’t know how a mother can stand to work and be away from her children!” “Couldn’t imagine being anything but a stay-at-home mommy with my angels. So Blessed!!!” (Side Note: Such messages always say “mommy” not “mom.”) (another side note: Most of the ones I know are college educated SAHMs) So, after reading this “poor, but happy” and “blessed” posts, I am of course, annoyed. But, I have also noticed that these same “friends” or “friends of friends” are active posters. So, I usually just wait, because inevitably these sappy/judgmental/humble-brag posts are always followed with ones along these lines: griping and moaning about outgrowing their car, the tires of the minivan needing replaced, the water heater exploding, not having enough money to go on vacation, and on and on the list goes. I get it, s**t happens and we like to whine about it on Facebook. BUT, don’t say you are “poor, but happy” or make judgey statements about other moms who are not happy being poor or who choose to work because they probably would go insane if they were home all day every day with their “angels.”

Being a mom is tough. Being a SAHM is tough–little social life, tight income, difficulty having an identity apart from your children. It’s a sacrifice to choose to stay at home. However, some moms, choose to keep on with their careers. That choice is a complicated one too. As a working mom there are tough things–not enough time to enjoy your children, not being their for certain milestones, endless list of home chores combined with an endless list of work tasks, watching your child’s face light up as much or more when they see their babysitter than they do when they see you. I work because I enjoy it (most days) and because I do NOT like being poor. I would imagine if we could maintain our current lifestyle with me being a SAHM, I might make that choice. Maybe. It’s complicated.

All I am saying is, I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you whine about your husband working 60+ hours a week and never being home. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to replace your 10 year old minivan. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to go a vacation and you make snarky comments on all of my vacation photos. Choosing to stay at home or have a career is a deeply personal choice. If you are poor, but happy. Good for you! You are a better, less materialistic person than me.

But, I’m not going to make donations to your new minivan fund.

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The State of Our Finances (Part 3 of 4)

We have talked about income and debt, now we move to the fun stuff–what we actually own outright.  It’s not much.  This post will be short. :-/

The Assets

We own Henry’s 2008 Ford F-150 outright.  If all goes according to plan, we will own my 2008 Honda Accord  by next February.  In addition to those vehicles, we also own (outright) two other motorized “things.”  Henry owns a 1999 Harley motorcycle and a 2000-something 4-wheeler.  Not sure of the make/model but I’d say it’s worth between $700 – $1,000.   Other than the vehicles/ATV, our only other assets are our savings and retirement accounts. 

Currently our savings sit at:

Emergency Fund (EF):                   $7,300

Vacation Fund:                                  $1,350

New Roof Fund:                                    $1,250

Henry’s “man trip” fund:                    $650

Our emergency fund was at almost $10,000 when Baby Girl was born, but thanks to maternity and paternity leave (all unpaid), we went through several thousand dollars in those weeks (8 for me, 4 for Henry).  I have no regrets on spending that money or taking that time.  That was our plan all along–to save so we could both take time off without worrying how the bills would get paid.  We want to build that back up to $8,000, then start throwing all of the money we save per month ($890) at our debt.

Henry has around $40,000 in his retirement account.  I have approximately $16,000 in mine.  That’s it.  That’s our assets.  $10,550 cash, about $56,000 in retirement, $16,000 in motorized objects (truck, motorcycle, ATV).

We would love to own property some day, but we don’t feel financially secure enough yet and want to be done with all of our “Life Happens Debt” before we tackle any other investments.  We also need to start a 529 for Baby Girl.  It’s on my to-do-list, but we most likely won’t do that either until we are out of debt (Dave Ramsey would be so proud 🙂 )

The State of Our Finances (part 1 of 4)

One of the purposes of my blogging is to motivate myself to pay off our debts.  However, I have no intentions of making this solely a “get out of debt” blog.  I do not feel that I am in any position to offer advice to anyone.  Sure, I’m frugal in some ways, but I can be quite profligate in others.  I fully believe in enjoying life here and now, but I also strongly believe in making a better future for me and my family by making wise financial decisions.

Over the next several posts, I will lay out our income, debts, assets, and budget so that you get the “lay of the land” as we continue our climb out of our debt bog.

Income

The husband and I both have fairly good incomes.  Together we make around $100k per year, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.  I am a salaried employee and my 2012 salary is exactly $50,033.  Henry is an hourly worker with the option of getting over time, so his income varies.  His yearly take-home pay over our 7 years of marriage has fluctuted from $42,000 to $76,000 depending on the job/positions he has held.  Currently, he is on track to make about $48-50,000 this year.

My take-home pay is a little higher than his because health, life, and dental insurance are all provided through his job and come out of his paycheck.  Makes sense that since he is in the health care profession, that he should have great insurance.   We both contribute to retirement at a rate of 13% of our pre-tax income.  Our savings all come out of my paychecks at a rate of 25% of my post-tax income, with an additional $200 per month auto-drafted from our checking account.

You Want me to Do What?

Since our marriage in 2005, we have always had joint finances.  For the first several months after we married, I struggled to find a job.  During that time, Henry was the bread winner and I was a very bored housewife!  I was horrible at finances and was in debt when we married, yet because of my free time, Henry wanted me to take over the family finances.  Of the two of us, I was the most irresponsible with money, and yet, my taking over the bill paying turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to our finances. Because I was not contributing to the income at all, I was painfully conscious of the fact that Henry worked hard to support us.  He never, ever made me feel that way, it was a self-imposed burden. However, it made me conscious of how every penny was spent.  We struggled on one income, and I did my best to make it work, all while trying to pay off the credit card I had stupidly almost maxed out prior to our marriage. 

Good Intentions Really Do Pave the Way to Hell

That was the start of our desire to be debt free, but it didn’t last.  I had been thinking about law school for several years, and finally in the Spring of 2006 I applied.  I was accepted and that fall I took out my first $10,000 in student loans.  I was convinced I would be making bucket loads of cash after graduation, so taking our student loans seemed totally feasible to me.  Little did I know that in my state (note:  we live in the mid-south), the average income for a lawyer was $41,000 per year.  Yeah, I was uniformed and naive.

In my next post, I will discuss our debts and how we incurred them.