28 April, 2006

Makin' It, Gettin' By, Etc.

The Man Who Hasn't Seen Jaws raises an interesting point.

Families with multiple children used to survive on one income. Now two people in their twenties who work themselves to the bone can't barely find a way for one of them to take a year off so they can have ONE kid.

Part of me really wants to agree with him, because I think that Nashville is a city filled with underemployed people. I think the economy here encourages employers to pay far less than the going rate elsewhere. When I was in a salaried position a year ago, I was paid $5K less than the bottom bracket for my job as listed on salaryweb. I wasn't even making the base amount, and I think that's typical within the Nashville job market, from what I've seen.

But in a larger sense, I do think that my generation and the one immediately following mine have redefined survival. Not to sound all uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow, but things were different when I was a kid. My parents raised four kids on one income. They didn't have cable TV, internet, cell phones, new cars every two years. We grew our own vegetables, my mom sewed our clothes. Instead of going to the movies we went to the library. Going out to eat was a huge treat that we did exactly five times every year. I know this because there was a restaurant where kids ate free on their birthdays and got a free chocolate cake, so each time one of us had a birthday, we'd go there. The fifth time was when we'd stop at Burger Chef (until it went out of business, then McDonalds) once on the way to my grandparents' farm every summer. That was it.

I do think it can be possible for a family to get by on one income. It just depends on how you define "getting by." It also depends on how you define contentment.

I really should link to Ivy on this topic. She and her husband are raising three kids on one income (plus some additional stuff since January or so.) She's written quite a bit about this. Also, Amy of Lavender Sparkles and her husband made the decision to learn to live on one income from the get-go so they don't feel deprived once children arrive. I also believe that Heather and her family are a one-income joint. So there ARE people making the sacrifice to live this way. It can be done.


At 4:11 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

I totally agree. Of course, you knew I would. :)

At 4:23 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Yeah. I did. I totally thought of you when writing this, too. I should have linked you, come to think of it.

At 5:37 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Malia said...

Us, too. One significant income, and just the little bit I make with a very part time job (that's ending soon). How do we do it? I think one major way is very little consumer debt. We don't use credit cards. We have one car loan and our mortgage. We have few "perks" in our budget, cell phones and DSL are really the only ones. We do not have cable television, we mow our own grass, clean (well, sort of!) our own house, we have no gym memberships and we eat-in most of the time (although we eat out far more often than I ever did growing up).

I'm not bragging, I just know that it can be done, if that's what you want. I've seen attitudes about SAHM's, that we are "kept" women and that our husbands/partners must be rolling in the dough for us to be able to "afford" to stay home. But more often than not, the SAHM's that I come into contact with are making sacrifices and budgets in order to do what they do.

Sorry for the soapbox tirade!

At 6:17 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger melusina said...

I agree as well. My parents raised three kids on one income, and we managed. Not to mention on top of all that they ended up brunting the cost of a child with a chronic illness (me) and we still lived a decent life. Sure, I whined about the lack of cable TV and other unnecessary stuff, but all in all things were good growing up.

Sure, if the single income is 10k a year it would probably be quite a bit more difficult than someone making 30k a year, but I've known people who were making six dollars an hour who managed to raise two kids and still get by.

That isn't to say that life is easy that way. But it is all about the decisions you make. To me, I was much happier having my mother at home with me every day than having an extra income for cable and video games and whatnot.

At 7:57 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

You are right, we're doing it on one income. No, we don't have cable and we don't eat out very often. I've learned to be very direct and specifi when relatives as what the boys want/need for Christmas etc.

The biggest things are probably not having a car payment and not having credit card debt.

At 10:46 PM, April 29, 2006, Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

I remember taking a "field trip" to a Burger Chef in Ft. Wayne and being fascinated by the contraption that automatically spewed mayo, mustard and ketchup on the bun. I wonder if it was the same Burger Chef.

You know where I lived. It was that one out there.

We also took a field trip to the potato chip factory. What was the name of that place? Seiferts?

At 12:17 AM, April 30, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

There was a Burger Chef a few miles in from where you lived, but that was never where we stopped. We always went to one that was halfway between my grandma's and Ft. Wayne. Mom would hand us kids over to spend a week on the farm.

I miss Burger Chef and his motley pal, Jeff.

Have I mentioned how much I love the internet? The fact that I can instantly see a picture of my beloved Burger Chef and Jeff is both scary and awesome. And, okay, a little bit sad.

At 7:30 PM, April 30, 2006, Anonymous sis said...

As a teacher, I have the utmost respect for SAHM's. They make countless sacrifices to do what they believe is best for their kids. In the district where I teach, there are many wealthy families. Some of the moms can stay home and still not worry about a budget, but many have to do without and try to teach their kids that they do not NEED Playstations, gameboys, t.v.'s in their rooms, 4-wheelers, etc. like their friends have. Many of these women would enjoy working outside the home, but they believe that their kids need them and so they make motherhood their jobs. They volunteer in the classroom, help with homework, and read to their kids. In my experience, the kids whose Moms stay home are much better students, better friends, and more well-adjusted than the kids who spend more time with their t.v. and video games than with their Moms. Sorry for the soapbox. To put it simply, kids need parents, not stuff.


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