Updated: Feb 9
Living on a single income is tough, especially when that single income isn’t very high at all. Budgets are tighter, saving is more difficult, investing for retirement feels impossible when there are so many needs that must be met right now. Vacations seem like a once in a lifetime event, and even something as simple as going on a date with your spouse feels like a luxury. There’s also the undercurrent of uncertainty – what if something happens to my spouse? What if they are in an accident and left incapacitated or they die? What will we do to survive? How will I support us singlehandedly? These are concerns that go through the head of any “house-spouse” – the person in the relationship who stays home, takes care of kids, does the meal planning, the grocery shopping, manages the family’s calendar, gets kids to their appointments and classes. While customarily it is women who fill that role, there are an increasing number of men who stay home with their families to raise their children as well.
How I Ended Up a Stay-at-Home-Mom
I’ve been a Stay-At-Home-Mom most of my marriage. We were married three years before we had our oldest child, and during that time I usually had at least part time work to help build up our nest egg, and give me a sense of purpose to fill up my days. When we bought our first (and thus far only) home, I began to take on more part time jobs in an effort to help pay for things. It was a stressful time. My husband had just started a job where he could be fired for any reason within the first 90 days of his hiring, we had some extended family living with us that we were basically supporting financially, and we needed more money. So I worked 3 jobs to help us make ends meet. Which was fine.
Until it wasn’t. I was under so much stress going from one job to the next all the time, that my health began to decline drastically. My back was badly misaligned, making it so I could barely walk from one end of my home to the other. My hands were cracked and bleeding from harsh cleaners. Worst of all, I started having miscarriages. My first one, I was a week late for my cycle, but kept coming up with negative pregnancy tests. I assumed it was a fluke until it started with a vengeance one morning as I was walking out the door to head to work. I dropped to my knees outside our door and began vomiting uncontrollably into the grass as a stabbing pain filled my abdomen. I tried to call in sick, but my employer insisted they needed me there, so I went in that day, but quit shortly thereafter.
Why I Quit My Jobs
It took me months to recover from that miscarriage, and that was the easier of the two. It was the first of three pregnancies that I would have in the course of that year. As he watched my physical and mental health deteriorate, my husband was frantic. We sat down one day to discuss our finances, and he told me that I should quit all my jobs. I objected at first, because I felt like if I wasn’t having/raising babies then I should have a job to help contribute to our family. I’ll never forget the way he looked at me and said “It’s MY job to support YOU. And I need you healthy.” I slowly quit all my other jobs in the following month, and after spending a couple months focusing on my health, I was pregnant with our oldest! Other than filling in at my sister-in-law’s dance studio periodically for a couple of years, I haven’t had any type of employment since then. Which brings us back to the topic of living on a single income. When only person is earning money for the household, it can be difficult to feel fully secure all the time. Spouses die. Accidents leave people disabled. Divorces happen. Jobs are lost. It’s always wise to have some way of earning money on the side, in case of emergency or just to help supplement a tight income.
What is a SILK lifestyle?
Have you ever heard of the “DINK” lifestyle? It stands for “Dual Income, No Kids”. Remember the grumpy, snotty neighbor couple from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? They were the classic 80’s-90’s DINK couple – working, childless, materialist. DINK lifestyle has made a comeback today, with more young adults choosing to forego children, and even marriage entirely, in favor of a more “no-strings-attached” life. Which is fine. I understand the appeal of a life like that! But I want to contrast the “DINK” life with another. Enter the “SILK” lifestyle (I came up with that myself!). SILK stands for “Single Income, Lotsa Kids”! When you’re living the SILK life, and you have a tight income, you may need to find ways to bring in some supplementary money to help ease that pinch! Finding ways to bring in a little side money can be difficult when you’re committed to staying home with your family full time, but it’s not impossible.
How to Supplement your Single Income
· Babysitting for Friends. If you really don’t want to leave the home at all, this is one of the best ways to bring a little extra money in. There are always parents who work part-time, or need their kids watched once in a while, that need flexible childcare options. The nice thing about babysitting is you can carefully choose your clients to fit with your family’s needs and schedule. I’ve earned money off and on through the years by watching my nephews in the afternoon when their mother’s needed to go to work, or watching my friends’ kids for a day while she filled in at her clinic. Sometimes its just a couple hours, sometimes it’s a whole day, but either way my kids have friends to play with and it brings in some extra money to buy milk! (Because, seriously, kids can drink so much milk!) · Sell Handmade Goods. Do you have a favorite lip balm recipe that you’ve perfected? Maybe a salve that you make a couple times a year that seems to heal every scrape and scratch like magic? Or perhaps you crochet the most adorable baby hats! Knitting, crocheting, balms and salves, candles, handmade toys, paintings, just about ANYTHING you do as a craft to unwind can also be sold to bring in extra cash! Always check with your state and local laws about selling handmade goods, but usually “cottage goods” have fairly flexible laws. · Teach a Skill. Do you play a musical instrument? Are you a math genius? Maybe you know all the tricks of the trade when it comes to using Excel (I certainly don’t!). Teaching lessons – either privately or online – is a great way to earn some extra income. Lessons can fit your schedule, and it’s a great way to connect with other people who have skills you’re looking to learn! There are even people who teach private lessons over Zoom!
Earning Money from Home
You’ll notice that I haven’t actually included things like “start a blog” or most freelance online work. The reason for that is because it can take a very long time to start actually making money on a blog (in spite of what most bloggers would tell you!), and it often requires learning new skills and investing a good chunk of money upfront! There are plenty of ways that you could start earning money from your home that don’t require hundreds of dollars to get into. If your goals include starting a blog, the tips above can be a great way to bring in enough money to start a blog without dipping into your family finances. If you do end up starting a blog, then I highly recommend taking some blog courses to help you get started successfully!
Last Things to Know
Living a SILK lifestyle can be hard – mentally, emotionally, physically even – no matter what your reasons are for living it. Whether you’re staying at home because no job you get would cover the costs of childcare, or you are intentionally making the sacrifice of extra income to be with your children, I want you to know what I see you. It is hard. It is exhausting. It can be soul crushing at times. It is often thankless, and society can leave us feeling as though we are harming our families by staying at home to take care of them. I know how you feel. I would hug you if I could. But since I can’t, I hope this post leaves you feeling empowered to improve your life and circumstances!
This is the last post in our “Home Budget” series. You can find the previous parts here!