I have received a lot of response about posts where I expressed my desire to be a keeper-at-home in the future. A few of them were posted as comments on this blog, and others I got through email. Some of them implied that living on one income is only an option for rich people in rich countries, and that I don't know real financial hardships.
Those who have read more than a post or two on my blog probably figured out that I'm not some sort of pampered little princess who never lacked a thing. As I mentioned for example in this post, I was raised by a single mother, and we had to live on her small income alone (no help from my father whatsoever). As I described in that same post, it wasn't easy. We struggled. At some points it was not even frugality – it was real poverty. We never had a car; even public transportation seemed like a great toll on our minuscule budget! There was a long period when we never went on vacations. We never ate out, and trips to the movies were a rare treat. We had to save on food, clothes… anything you can imagine – because there was just no other choice.
Things have improved gradually, but the message I carried away with me from the toughest times was that if it was possible for us to live on Mom's income alone, it's also possible for other families where the husband earns the same amount of money. They say they can't afford it – but I know that if we made it through because we had to, it can also be done if we choose to do it. I know that if I married a man who earns a salary similar to what my Mom had back then, and we said we want to live on his income alone, we'd be told a thousand times again and again that it's simply impossible, it can’t be done. But that would sound unconvincing to me, as I already saw this budget in action.
Frugality isn't oppressive. It's liberating. It's liberating to know that you can easily do without half the things our culture claims you 'need'; that you can make ends meet and be debt-free even with an income that automatically defines you as 'poor'. It's liberating to be self-sufficient and resourceful, knowing you have freedom to choose the best for your family.
I'd like to stress again and again that I'm not passing judgment on anyone. I'm just trying to explain why I think living on one income can be an option even when it seems there's simply no way it could work out. I'm not arguing right now that it can always work out, no matter what – my point here is that many families, who think they can't afford living on one income, could probably become more frugal and creative and make ends meet if they were put in a situation that required it.
Don't be mistaken, it will probably take major sacrifices. I understand there can be a variety of circumstances and I think each family should pray about it and seek God's guidance, and each wife should submit to the authority of her husband. If my husband insists that I work outside the home, I will. But I do want the decision to be based on what our options really are, and not on what's the socially acceptable size of income needed to 'make a living'.