This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
|Photo by Aaron Patterson|
I decided to get back to school while I wasn’t working, so I started an online program that would have resulted in earning a Bachelor’s degree. I applied for financial aid and obtained a Pell Grant and a couple of student loans. Twice a year, I received a stipend check that helped pay for our utilities and rent (a.k.a. “room and board”), leaving some extra money out of hubby’s checks to pay for baby things, maternity clothes, little extras for The Oldest, etc. It was great – we were actually doing better with me home and not having a car than when I was working and driving!
We were even looking for a larger apartment. Our place was a one-bedroom, 625 sq. ft. apartment that we called “The House that Herb Built” (Herb being our landlord.) The angles of the walls, floors, and ceilings are wonky – you can never hang a picture and make it look straight because all of the angles are so crazy. The insulation (if there is any) in the walls is so thin that a gust of wind can be felt through the entire place. My Oldest had the bedroom and we were sleeping on a twin mattress in the living room. What were we going to do when Baby came?
Then, hubby was injured at work. It wasn’t a workman’s comp. type of situation, he had some medical problems that caused the accident and, as a result, was unable to work any longer. He filed for SSI in July of 2008. It was a good thing that I was at home because he needed care and someone to be around all of the time. Some of his medications had him walking around outside our apartment at 3am not knowing where he was. For a while there, I had one of those alarms on the door that beep loudly whenever it was opened so I knew if he had gotten lost on the five-foot walk from the living room to the bathroom and made his way outside. Without his income, we just couldn’t afford to move. We learned to make our small apartment work.
It can be hard, especially in the winter, with all of us in this little apartment. When cabin fever strikes, we do two things: purge our belongings and watch a TV show or DVD about how others live around the world. We receive all kinds of hand-me-down stuff from people. Rather than donating to the Salvation Army, people bring their useless junk to us instead. Then there’s hubby, who can’t go past a dumpster without peeking inside. Therefore, the place fills up rather quickly and a good purge helps. I read Momma Jorje’s Monday Minimalist posts to help get myself in the mood for this! And, because you just don’t know how good you have it until you see how other people live, I try to find some kind of show that features a family of 10 living in a hut the size of Oldest’s bedroom. We’ll all sit on the twin bed in the living room, passing around popcorn, and remind ourselves that we have it really, really good! There you have the #2 way to “afford” living more naturally:
LIVE IN THE SMALLEST SPACE POSSIBLE.
Since this is getting very long, I’m going to make this the last one (yay!)* One thing I worry about is my Oldest son. He is growing up with friends whose families are still stuck in consumer mode. Even though we live closer to the low-socioeconomic side of town, his friends still get new shoes & clothing, video games, junk food, etc. And here’s my kid, trying to be cool in last year’s styles from the thrift store, trying to keep up on the newest video games so he can talk about them without actually having ever seen them, and eating an apple for a snack rather than a bag of Cheeto's. He doesn’t complain, but I know it’s hard. Now that he’s in high school, it’s even harder. Other kids judge. And, while it’s all well and good to keep telling him that they’re just being stupid teens and one day they’ll realize that the style of shirt you’re wearing doesn’t define who you are – it doesn’t make today any easier for him.
So, how do you live more naturally and still make ends meet? We’ve gone without and learned how to live comfortably, but there’s always room for improvement!
*I have a lot more to say on this subject, but I wanted to keep it at a readable length. :)
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Money Matter$ — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
- A different kind of life... — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
- Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
- Material v Spiritual Wealth - Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family's realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
- If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
- Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the "real cost" of working outside of the home.
- Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
- Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
- Money Matters — Witch Mom hates money; here's why.
- Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she's made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
- What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
- Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
- Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
- The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget - and her perspective on creating and mothering.
- Jemma's Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen's monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
- 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
- Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
- Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
- Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she's lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
- Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in Budgeting — MudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
- ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children's financial future.
- Money vs. Time — Momma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
- An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
- 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
- Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family's lives at the same time.
- Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
- Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she's willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
- Money could buy me ... a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
- Spending Intentionally — CatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
- New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old's learned from having his own spending money.
- How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
- It's Not a Baby Crisis. It's Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
- "Making" Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
- Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
- Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
- Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
- Money Matters... But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
- Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
- Crunchy Living is SO Expensive...Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living - and her surprise at what she learned.
- Mo' Money, Mo' Problems — Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family's finances.
- The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn't always do it.
- Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family's approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.