Living on One Income - The Prequel
Comment: "We aren’t living in luxury! We don’t have a large home, we don’t drive luxury cars, our kids are in public school, we don’t have maid service, and we don’t even go on vacations! There is no way we could make it on my husband’s income, but I WANT to be home! What do I do?"
Over a decade ago I read an article by Patricia Chadwick called “Leading Me Home”. I tried to contact her for permission to share the article, but my e-mail bounced back. I hope she will not mind me sharing it. This article was so encouraging to me that I wanted to share an excerpt:
“While we didn't live an extravagant lifestyle, my husband's wage was low, and his work was seasonal. In my mind, there was no way I could quit my job. Over and over again I would feel the Lord prompting me to become a homemaker. I would hear Him speak to me when I read the Bible. I would hear His voice when I heard a sermon. In my time of prayer and devotions, I would feel Him prompting me to trust Him to take care of me. I would cry out to Him, "But Lord, you don't understand! Give my husband a better job and I will gladly quit!" He would gently respond, "Quit, and I will give your husband a better job!" This struggle went on for over a year. It then became clear to me that there was a lesson I needed to learn. I had to learn to "live by faith."
…I discussed it with my husband and we made the decision. I would give up my job and I would trust God to supply our needs. Once it was decided, a peace flooded my soul. Somehow I knew God would be faithful and honor His promises to me because of my choice to follow His will for my life.
I have never regretted taking that step of faith and trusting God to supply my family's needs. I cannot say it has always been an easy road to travel. My husband could not find a better job at first and finances became very tight. I had to learn how to live very frugally. I was tempted more than a few times to turn back, but God always assured me He would provide. And provide He did. My family never went without. God always supplied all our needs. Eventually God did provide my husband with a year-round job with benefits. He showed Himself to be faithful in numerous ways…”
At the time I read her article, I was working full-time, and my husband was only working part-time. He had been going to school and was content to work part-time. But then we decided to have children, and we both knew we wanted me at home. But what to do? How in the world could we ever get by without my income?
I got pregnant and told my bosses I either needed to quit, or go part-time. Then I lost the baby. But that was even more incentive to work less. Less stress. I kept repeating to myself, “Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job.” Three months later I became pregnant again.
We began to live on less by cutting out the obvious extras, but it was apparent there would be no way we could make it on just his income. Major changes would have to happen. I felt shaky, wondering how this would work out and if God would really provide when it was time to turn in my notice. (“Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job.”)
I found a replacement for my position, but kept my option to return to work open. After all, Patty was the one who heard God say “Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job” – not me. And they offered me a bonus to come back in a new position! At my shower, a female boss told me that the first few weeks back would be heart-wrenching, but that I’d get over it.
Would he find full-time work? He’d been part-time for years! First he had cared for his grandma, and then had gotten a Masters degree, but no one was hiring in his field.
We had a shaky four months of learning to live on less, wondering how in the world we would be able to make it if he couldn’t find full-time work. And then, even if he did, it would still be way less than what we were accustomed to.
Yet, four months after I went to half pay, my husband’s long-time (29 years!) co-worker just up and quit and my husband was offered a full-time position! We were so surprised that he was able to remain at his company and did not have to find new work. We were elated that the offer came before the baby. So we had another four months of my income to pay off my car, pay off all credit-card debts, and pay my midwife her $4,000. This was so surprising to me…I had been doubtful but hoping. I had expected God to lead him to a job the day before (or after) the baby came.
We did our best - we prepared, lived frugally, rarely ate out, planned, budgeted and lived simply. But our savings quickly ran out. Four months after baby, we were looking at my returning to work. Saying no, but not understanding how we could possibly make ends meet.
So I cried out to God to help me and He did amazing things. Surprisingly, my job called the next day and asked if I’d like to work from home a few hours a week. A new law had gone into effect, and they needed someone they could trust to oversee that employees were complying online. I wasn’t needed in the office. Clients would never call me. It was doable while baby napped or when hubby was home at night. A new job had been created due to government regulations – something I could never, ever, have planned for or asked for. I was the first person to work from home. They chose me after I cried out to God and I believe God planted my name in their ears. It was just enough to keep me at home.
And then He began teaching me, guiding me to resources on a different way to live (thank you Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies), showing me how to live on less.
IF you are a Christian (for I can only speak to Christians – I know nothing about the spiritual laws of other religions), then our Bible, in Titus chapter 2, says we are to be keepers at home. That means you can rely to God to help you. And it is super scary because we do not know how He is going to do it. But God knows your heart and your circumstances. If you don’t want to be at home, that is fine by me. But if you do, cry out, plan and prepare all you can, then walk in faith. Let God guide your steps.
For ME, it began with DOING all of those things I outlined on my posts Living on One Income and My Top Grocery Shopping Tips.
For ME, it began by paying off all unsecured debt and my car before I came home.
For ME, it began by working from home, where my hours decreased every year until during the fourth year I pleaded with God to help me live only on my DH’s income (I was laid off within a week).
I had to create a budget and a Bill Paying Calendar. Without it I lived in confusion.
I read and implemented the steps in Your Money or Your Life.
I stopped buying things I thought I had needed. See What I Don't Use and Other Thrifty Tips.
I did the uncomfortable things like changing my levels on insurance, especially switching to being a "pleasure driver," and changing insurance companies.
For me, it means attending homeschooling meetings that have a “free” table. I receive almost everything I want for free or greatly reduced from thrift or consignment stores. (I say “want” and not “need” because all my needs are taken care of through our income. It is my wants – clothing, toys, curriculum, books…that I need to find outside of our income.)
For me, it means praying it in. Everything I want I pray about. Once I prayed for a light under my kitchen cabinet. I never expected it to show up on a free table. But it came and I’m still using it, years later. My son prayed for a $100 stuffed animal that of course we said no to. He found it at a thrift store, brand new, for $4.
For me, it means selling used clothes and toys to Children’s Orchard, or books and toys on e-bay, and getting what I (or my son) want in return.
You get the picture. This is what I do. Where there is a will, there is a way, and God can lead YOU down it, if you will follow. This post feels inadequate, because I do not have YOUR answers. I just know it is possible, because I, and the majority of my new friends, do it, in a high-priced area, on very little. All of my friends are in the same financial boat, but we share with each other what our excesses are. God knows what we need and He provides it beautifully. If I was working, I'd miss His provision.
May God bless you as you walk in HIS way. It is doable. Begin.
(I’m hoping to write soon on: Can I really trust God to lead me, provide for us and help me come home?, the book There’s No Place Like Home, and some of my answered prayers for finances during those first shaky years for encouragement. I needed constant encouragement my first few years home.)