Part 7 - Q&A - Living On One Income

Q.  Hi Bev,
My dear husband lost his job of nearly 25  years suddenly on Good Friday. His job was funded by the State of IL and the Governor ceased all spending on Human & Social Services with NO warning.  My husband's program was NOT a government handout program, but one that prevented juvenile delinquency. 
I have been home from my job as a public school teacher for 13 years.  I LOVE being a stay at home wife and mother and my husband says it's his top priority to continue that.  Any ideas on what to do in this situation?  This is my first time dealing with this.  Thank you in advance! 

A.  I think the person that asked this, also asked in 2 other comments and so I'm copying/pasting my answer from there to here.  First of all, PRAY! God will open another door where it was closed I believe. Next, seeing that he has 23 years experience, he will probably be able to find another good job I assume in his field. A possible move to another state or area to find a job may be something you need to pray about. Did you prepare for something like this? I know that is what is optimal but most people aren't prepared for these things. He would need to find another job soon but in the meantime draw his unemployment compensation, which he paid a lot into over the years. Pray, pray, pray and trust God to meet the needs and it doesn't hurt to encourage your husband to be proactive and find another job - who knows, he may find one that is better!

In the event of a job loss, they say to cut all expenses down to the crucial needs - kind of like skimming all the fat off a piece of meat.

Part 6 - Q&A - Living On One Income

I only received a few questions and we will start with the first few in this post and finish up the rest in Part 7.

    Q. What activities do you do as a family for fun?

    A. We are pretty easy to please and it doesn't take much for us to have fun.  We like playing board games (7 Wonders, Funglish, Rummikub, Made for Trade, 10 Days in.., Homeschoolopoly to name a few).  My kids and I watch Netflix (my husband doesn't watch movies).  Things we like on Netflix are educational, documentaries, cartoons, home & craft shows and some Christian films they have like Ace Wonder that are clean.  We do things outside and sometimes go to the park or for a drive.  Church is our big family activity - I guess you could say that is fun but more so, it is the basis of our family life.

    Q. For retirement do you only fund one account in your husbands name or do you both have seperate accounts?

    A.  We have a joint retirement account - nothing separate because we are married and that ends the separate accounts when you join together.

    Q.  Ways you save on household goods!?

    A. I'm not sure what you count as household goods but I'm assuming you are talking about cleaning supplies?  I make my own all-purpose cleaner, detergent and hand soap and have for over 10 years now.  Those are big savings.  I buy the blue Dawn dish detergent or the generic brand of it and it does so many things in the house (dishes, grease, tub, laundry).  I use a steam mop, so I don't need any floor cleaners as the steam is the best, in my opinion, to use for your floors and make them safe for children and it is easy, efficient and kills germs and only takes distilled water!  I use SOS pads for our tubs and sink because they are very old plastic material that is frustrating to clean.  I use a generic window or rubbing alcohol for my mirrors but a friend showed me how I could use a hot water and a microfiber rag to clean them and it worked!  I use a piece of an old t-shirt as a dusting rag by soaking it in hot water and squeezing it out and then I wipe my bookshelves, tables and other surfaces.

    Q.  How do you plan for the unexpected expenses?

    A.  I plan for the unexpected expenses by actually planning for them in the budget.  I usually plan $50-$100 a month for miscellaneous things that come up.  If we don't use it, we put it in savings.  I've gotten better at knowing what to expect each month, so eventually I can lower this because we are finding that unexpected expenses are more expected as I track our detailed budget.

    Q.  Tips on gift giving, please!

    A.  For our family we buy gifts on birthdays and Christmas.  For outside of our immediate family, we only buy gifts as we feel led to do so.  I believe the money that God gives us should be used as He sees fit and I just don't go out and buy everyone I know a gift all the time.  I also limit my attendance to events that expect gifts.  My tip would be to not spend money you need for your family to soothe your guilt in giving gifts as I know a lot of women that are stuck in this trap.  It isn't really a gift anymore because you are giving it out of expectation or guilt.  God does touch our hearts occasionally to give someone a gift and we do so - I love when He leads like that!  It is His money and we want to do our best to use it wisely.

    Part 5 - Budgeting - Living On One Income

    I've blogged about budgeting in several series before - Financial Budgeting 101 and Living Debt Free.  I did want to touch on a few things about budgeting in this series for those who haven't read the other series.  Your husband can do the budget or he can defer that to you.  My husband always did the budget until the past year when he let me take over.  I'm very good with numbers and so, he has given me reign over it now.

    In Part 4, we talked about the home management fund, which includes food, necessities (toilet paper, etc.), clothing and some maintenance (cleaning supplies, light bulbs, etc.).  There are still other categories left to budget for and they are:

    Tithe - should always be first and foremost! Here's why:
    Tax (federal, medicare, social security)
    Savings/Retirement (emergency fund, college funds, etc.)
    Housing (mortgage or rent)
    Housing maintenance
    Housing insurance (home owner's or renter's)
    Utilities (electric, gas, water, garbage, sewer)
    Phone & Internet (cable if you use that)
    Cell Phone(s)
    Security system monitoring
    Gasoline for car
    Car insurance
    Car maintenance (repairs, oil changes, etc.)
    Personal Insurance (life, disability)
    Health insurance
    Health Savings Account or Fund for medical bills
    Vision costs (contacts/glasses, solution, exams)
    Dental Insurance
    Medications and/or Supplements
    Job fees or Union dues
    Entertainment (Netflix, books, etc.)
    Home Management (clothing, food, necessities, small maintenance)
    Miscellenous expenses (gifts, toys, etc.)
    Music lessons
    Vacation or trips

    DEBT - should be zero but if you have it, get rid of it!

    Yearly Expenses
    Homeschool Legal Defense (if you homeschool on your own, you need this!)
    Memberships (like Amazon Prime)
    Car tags and registration
    Property taxes
    Homeschool curriculum and supplies
    Identity Theft Protection

    I may have missed something or there may be things you pay that aren't listed.  You need to find ways to cover the above categories based on your income.  The best way to do this is by first subtracting tithe, offerings, tax and other payroll deductions and then budgeting your take-home pay.  Most families of 4 pay anywhere from 11-15% tax, so make sure you allot for that and thank the government for their continued wise spending of your money and take joy in the increases to help them. <-- You didn't think I was being serious there did you!?

    Once you write down everything you need to take care of monthly or yearly, you will get a clear picture and then be able to budget your money and purposely budget for savings instead of wondering where your money went each month.  Dave Ramsey has a new, FREE program for budgeting called Every Dollar and I use it and love it!  It includes some tutorials in the help section if you need them.  Or you can simply budget on paper - I do both.

    Work on lowering the categories and eliminate those you can, to bulk up your savings.  Create funds for whatever you need or will need - car, clothing, furniture, etc.  Make sure you have an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses if your husband loses his job or until disability becomes available.  Fund your retirement so you will not burden your children when you are older (and to have something to leave them!) and so that you can support the both of you.  Fund or don't fund your children's college - that is up to each family.

    Part 4 - Home Management - Living On One Income

    We've talked about why women should be homemakers in Part 1, why men should provide for their families in Part 2, and then the basis of being able to do in Part 3 on contentment.  I will do a future post answering all the questions submitted but it will be last in this series.  In this post, we are going to discuss home management, which entails everything that you are responsible for in being the manager of your home.

    Home management usually (this may vary) includes the cleaning, meals, clothing and care of the children and some maintenance.  The wife usually takes care of these things as the husband is busy working outside the home to bring in the funds to run the home.  I think it is a good idea to budget a "home management" account that the wife can cover the above things and decide how much goes where and then she can also save and have spending money of her own.  We used to do it this way for years but now I do the entire budget and so I decide a lot more, but for the sake of this post - I will show you how we had done it for years while getting out of debt.

    A prior pastor of ours advised my husband that if he wanted to keep his wife happy, he should give her this "home management" fund and let her split it up into the categories of care for the home and then from her hard work of learning to save, she can pocket the rest to do with as she pleases.  At the time, I was very foolish with our money and that may have influenced his advice on this but it did work for us for many years and kept me happy - though, I had to learn contentment with everything eventually as we talked about in Part 3.

    We set aside $550 for our home management fund when we did it this way.  It depends on your family size but the $550 was for our family of 3 at that time.  This is how I would split that money up:

    $550 Home Management Fund
    - $250 food
    - $90 necessities
    - $30 clothing
    - $30 misc.
    $150 to save or spend

    I sometimes could save more than $150 and I usually did spend it every month.  It was a challenge each month for me to see how much I could save and how much I would have left to have fun with.  That is how I learned to be frugal and make things homemade, etc.  I wanted more leftover of my home management money and I usually had a lot.  My husband stuck by this and only gave me the $550 and I wasn't to ask for more each month and that allowed us to pay off debt quick because he knew I wasn't going to come to him for more for this or that - he had given me a sufficient amount to cover the home needs.

    That was an example of how you could do it.  Now, we simply budget categories and even budget "fun" money, so that we have a set amount each month.  I don't spend as much fun money as I used to because I began to want to finish funding our emergency fund and reach our goals, so I learned to curtail my spending to make those things happen.  Some months though - I get tired of that and I just go spend LOL!  That is ok because I'm not doing it on debt and we do have things set up in case something ever happened.

    I've blogged a lot about food budgets, so there is no need to repeat all that here.  For necessities that covers things like diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.  The clothing allowance is up to each family and according to how you want to do it.  We buy most of the clothing for the year with our child tax credits and then we set aside a small amount each month for unexpected clothing expenses that come up - new shoes because someone's foot grew, something gets ruined, etc.  The miscellaneous category would cover anything to do with the home that isn't food or necessities.  This would be some of the maintenance like light bulbs, cleaning supplies, etc.

    Those are two ways that you can budget these things - either in a home management fund that you get every month or by simply allotting these categories into the main budget.  You know yourself - choose which one would work best for you!

    Part 3 - Contentment - Living On One Income

    I know all about this one as I've lived it, was able to come to the place of true contentment and am still practicing being content no matter the future decisions.  I can say that I've been there, done that and bought the entire collection.  What am I talking about?  Contentment.

    If a wife learns to be content with what her husband provides, she will save herself, her husband and her children a lot of needless problems.  I admit that I was NOT content in the early years of our marriage because I didn't fully understand what was really important in life.  All I could see is what we didn't have and there was always something more I wanted.  This caused problems with our marriage and with our finances.

    As a wife, you must learn contentment and learn to be content with what your husband provides.  If you don't, you will be that millstone, that nag, that brings everyone down.  You will squander the family finances on your discontent and tear down your house with your own hands as the Bible speaks of.  If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self - I would slap her and tell her to look around and how blessed she is and quit belly-aching about what she didn't have!!  Obviously I can't do that but thankfully God did, over time, let things come our way that made me "wake up" to the fact that I was not a good wife.

    Some husbands can never pay off debt or even save a dime because their wives blow it all on stupid stuff they didn't even need.  The ironic thing is, this same wife that squanders all the money, will have the gumption to blame her husband for not providing for her needs later on when she spent all the money and can't buy a loaf of bread.  Most husbands would get tired of this kind of woman and who could blame them?

    I never have anything.  I haven't bought a new dress in 2 years.  The kids need new shoes.  This house needs repairs.  Tommy needs more diapers.  And on and on...  What about the money that you spent on Mcd's?  Or how about the $200 you spent on that new electronic you had to have so bad?  See - nobody wants to face themselves when the hard times come, especially wives!  They want to blame the husband, when in most cases it is shown that women are the big spenders; not men.

    It is time to wake up to the important things in your life ladies!  Look around you at your children and what your husband has provided you with and BE THANKFUL!!  That is contentment really - a thankful heart.  A thankful heart will not whine about all it doesn't have.  A thankful heart will be overwelmed with all it does have. 

    Your not going to make it on one-income with an unthankful, discontented, greed-full heart and if you do, you will do it with DEBT!  You will find the way to spend money you don't have and that is what state most Americans are in today.  Don't spend what you don't have by learning contentment!

    This post, if applied, will save you life-long marital and financial battles!

    Part 2 "The Why" for Men - Living On One Income

    In Part 1, we talked about "the why" for women and now in Part 2, we will discuss "the why" for men.  I know that this is a blog for women but believe it or not, I do have male readers.  I'm mostly blogging this for women but hey, the men need to hear this too, especially in this effeminate society we have today.

    I'm going to be very blunt here, so if you get offended, consult God's Word and then tell Him off.  There is no way around it - a real man, a real husband, will not put his wife on a job.  *dodging rocks*  I remember a preacher that used to say that you shouldn't prostitute your wife out on a job and that has a lot of truth to it.  Men throughout time took care of their families.  At some point in American society, most likely when women became domineering, men lessened their manhood.  Throughout all time, wives were a "help meet" to their husbands by keeping the home, bearing and raising their children and making a home of peace as a resting place from their husband's daily work outside the home.

    A man should provide for his family, he shouldn't depend on his wife helping out.  A real man, that has a pair as the saying goes, will be man enough to provide enough.  He doesn't need his wife to bring in income, he is man enough to do it himself.  WOW!  Where are those type of men?  This isn't just for Christians - all men used to think this was their duty - you know, back when divorce rates were less and women were called ladies?  It should affect a man's manhood if his wife is having to help him provide, he should feel bad about it.

    God made men the head and their head is Christ and we are under man's headship.  That doesn't mean we are dogs to be trampled on; as a Godly man will love his wife as Christ loved the church!  That means that you are his flower, his soft, feminine woman and he is your manly man that will do all to provide so that you can fulfill your Godly duty at home.  THAT is a man!

    Ok, enough about what I said - what does God say about all this?  Well, God doesn't hold back - He goes so far as to say that a man is WORSE than an infidel if he doesn't provide for his own. OUCH GOD - you should be softer in your words, you might offend somebody.

    1 Timothy 5:8
    But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

    That verse is saying that those that aren't providing or won't provide for their own (his own house) are guilty of two things:

    1. Denied the faith - men that don't provide for their families are denying the faith or in other words, they have rejected the gospel!
    2. WORSE than an infidel - men that don't provide for their families are not just compared to infidels, or men that are heathen, they are WORSE than them!  Even heathens and pagans believe you should take care of your own.

    That flies in the face of the modern-day Christian teaching of everything goes and everything is ok as long as you said a little prayer.  If you can do something that equals rejecting the gospel and being worse than the heathen - then, I would think it would be ok to assume that are you are no longer a Christian.  But that is another post in itself.

    God used strong words because this is a serious thing!  Men should take care of their families; women should never feel that they have to do it.  I believe that this would include men preparing for situations such as: losing their job, becoming disabled or their death.  If men prepared for these things by having disability insurance, emergency funds and life insurance, then their family would still be taken care of.  There are some times when the man becomes so disabled he cannot work and if he didn't prepare ahead with disability insurance, he will find it hard to support his family on his disability income from the government in some cases.  That is where it is up to each family to decide if the wife must work but in most cases, she just needs to be content with his income if it is truly enough.

    Adam Clarke's commentary speaks of nature teaching us these things, these are foundational things that shouldn't change:

    "For what are called the dictates of nature lead men to feel for and provide for their own families."

    Barnes commentary goes on to say even more in support of the preparations that men should think about concerning their families:

    "The meaning is, that the person referred to is to think beforehand of the probable needs of his own family, and make arrangements to meet them.  ...according to our measure, we are to anticipate what will be the probable needs of our families, and to make arrangements to meet them.  ...We may hence learn that it is possible to deny the faith by conduct as well as by words; and that a neglect of doing our duty is as real a denial of Christianity as it would be openly to renounce it."

    Men should provide and that includes prepare.  Why should a woman have to even worry about what to do in the event of her husband's death?  Why should she have to worry about working if he becomes disabled?  She shouldn't, if he prepared for these things ahead of time.  She should never have to face such things and I think that is where you find a lot of scared women holding on to their jobs as their "security" for the future, when they should be able to trust in their husband and most importantly, God.  Men should be man enough to have wives that don't fear the future, or in that matter, even the present.  She should also not spend his earnings foolishly and destroy her own family with her own greed but that is the next post.

    So women, let the men have their pants back and men, put them on!

    Part 1 "The Why" for Women - Living On One Income

    I'm starting a series about Living On One Income in hopes of helping those that are on the fence about doing so and continuing to encourage and help those that are doing so. Obviously you know that we live on one income, my husband's, and I'm a homekeeper. The first post in this series is going to be about “why” you should live on one income as a Christian woman.

    God intended for women to marry, bear children and keep the home and that is a full-time commitment. When you step outside of God's design, you live on the arm of flesh financially as you don't really 'need' God anymore in that regard. You also forsake what scripture told you not to – bearing children and loving your husband.

    Titus 2:4-5
    That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
    To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    1 Timothy 5:14
    I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house...

    I've talked to MANY women over the years that are older than me, even my own mother and these women have come to the place of being able to admit their regrets of not doing God's Word. They have grown children that want nothing to do with them or have distant relationships because they weren't really there for them growing up. They were off working on a job and their child(ren) came home to an empty house. When mom did come home, she was grumpy and tired and the last thing she wanted to do was cook, clean or spend time with her children. All she can do is collapse from fatigue, agonize over everything that had to be done and feel the guilt pour over her that she couldn't be more. It is one thing to be forced into this life by being a single mother but it is another thing to CHOOSE it as a married woman. We will have to give an account for how we spent our lives, time and obedience to God's Word and order for the family.

    If I could turn back time... as the song goes. I hear it all the time from mothers telling me to keep doing what I'm doing and how they wish they could have done the same. They would give anything to go back and have that time with their children and not just their children but also their husband, who was also neglected. Do they remember the “stuff” they bought with the money they made? No. Most of the time the women I talk to, remember the TIME they were NOT there when they should have been. That is a miserable life to live in your later years – years of regret that God has to heal. I've always said that I want to be in my rocking chair when I'm old and smile on all those memories of me and my children and husband – all the fun we had, meals I prepared out of love, special treats I made for them that lit up their faces, being available for my husband and how I taught my children their education and raised them up in God's Word. Stuff won't matter then – it will be the memories and hopefully, my children and their children around me and seeing the legacy live on.

    So, what is it mom that drives you to work? Most say it is because they “have to” and we all know that isn't true because you are surrounded by so many that make it and what about God - does He not provide anymore? Isn't it rather greed? Money for what? More stuff. Or maybe you say it is because you need to feel a “purpose” in life. Since when is God's purpose of being a wife, mother and homekeeper not enough for you? Who are you listening to? Others will say it is because they can't stand their kids. Well, that is easy to fix – if you were the parent that you are supposed to be and trained your children properly, you would LOVE to be around them!! People that say they can't stand their kids are really saying that they choose to not train them to be loveable kids or maybe their children are acting out because they are not receiving the attention they need. Or maybe sometimes it is in the mirror – they are mimicking you and that is what you cannot stand.

    Those are all excuses because it isn't money you need, it isn't more greed you need, it isn't a purpose you need or to get away from your children – it comes down to needing to be who you were made to be and you will never be happy (now or when you are older) until you fulfill your God-given role.

    "Poor" - Depends On Who You Ask

    We discussed what real wealth is in my previous post and how if you have no debt and some cash in your pocket, you are in the top 75% of Americans.  We had an ER bill that my insurance denied coverage saying it didn't meet "medical criteria" for a medical emergency.  On the third try, someone finally got it covered and upon notifying the hospital billing, I found out that they had already zeroed out the bill because they consider us poor.  We are so poor that they don't require any payment from us at all for our future hospital or ER visits - it is all covered at 100% and that is without insurance even.  We are poor according to who you ask...

    Poor - hmm, I don't feel poor.  We have a nice 1500 sq. ft mobile home we rent that has 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms with big walk-in closets and our master bathroom has a garden tub.  We have a large pantry room between our living and dining rooms and we have a locked, electric-provided shed to use as storage and a nice-sized yard with a large deck.  Not just that but we drive a car that we own.  We have high-speed internet at 100 Mbps, a home phone and even a cell phone.  We buy healthy food and most of it is organic and we sometimes eat out.  We don't have any government assistance and buy insurance for most of the crucial things.  This is what "poor" looks like to our state.

    It was great to know our bill was taken care of but then it was weird thinking that they consider my husband's pay covering the 4 of us as poverty.  I thought poverty was where you live in shack, only have rice and beans all day and have no transportation.  Our family is poor but we are richer than 25% of Americans put together as we have no debt.  Compared to the world - we are in the 1%, as are most Americans.

    I laugh at the thought of us being "poor."  It just isn't so.  I'm guessing they get those numbers based on family size by going by the "average" American that has debt up to their eyeballs and mortgages that are too big for their income.  We are part of the "weird" Americans that have no debt and plan only buying a house that they can afford at 25% of our pay and save for the future - and that makes us "poor" to the government (who is in debt up to their eyeballs btw).

    How Do You Determine Real Wealth?

    My financial posts on this blog are becoming some of the most read posts of my entire blog and I love writing about financial things and seems like others like reading it, so before I start the series on Living On One Income, I wanted to talk about wealth.

    Most people think of wealth as making a lot of income but that is not true wealth.  I know people that make large amounts of income that are poor and I know people that make low amounts of income that are wealthy.  What wealth really comes down to is what your net worth is.  What does net worth mean?

    Net Worth = Assets - Debts

    Your net worth is a true indicator of your financial situation.  That is how you can make $100K a year but the guy next to you that makes $30K could be wealthier than you because he has no debt.  As the saying goes, when the dirt hits the fan, you will find out what your financial situation is.  (That is the "Christianized" version of that saying)  What happens when the income stops - are you rich or poor?

    If you have zero debt and $10 in your pocket, you have more wealth than 25% of Americans put together!  This is because 25% of Americans are in debt and  that gives them a negative net worth.  If the banks and lenders called for their payments in full today - how many Americans would be destitute?  That is why it is good to owe no one, pay your debts and be a lender, not a borrower.

    You can use this website to calculate your net worth: You can see what your assets are (savings, retirement, possessions, stocks/bonds, etc.) and then subtract your debts (mortgage, credit, etc.) and you will see what your financial situation really is.

    Most Americans do not even pay off their mortgages in their lifetime.  They refinance, they take out loans against their homes and by doing this, they spend their lives with a negative net worth.  In America, you can have a 3,000 square foot home and luxury cars in the driveway and be POOR!  In America, you can live in a trailer with a junker in the driveway and be wealthy!  Isn't that amazing?

    Was Jesus for taking from the rich and giving to the poor, or wealth equality as they call it today?  Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to a man that took from the one that had less and gave it to the one with more, who was more responsible with his money!  Matthew 25 

    Real wealth is being wise with God's money, yes I said God's money because as a Christian you should understand that the money you receive is God's.  Once you acknowledge that, you will want to treat His money in a correct way and not squander it.  You will also pay tithe of 10% of all your increase - that is, if your heart is in the right place but that is another blog post.