Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Adventures in Simplicity: On Being a One-Income Family

These are the stories of our family's adventures in living simply. We've had our share of highs and lows in the few short years we've been on this path, but we're loving just figuring it out together as we go along. And now with a new baby in the mix, things are sure to get even more adventuresome!  You can find the entire series, including our reasons for choosing this path, here.

Almost four years ago, my husband and I made the risky decision to move to a new city where we knew only one person and had no jobs, immediately after getting married. It turned out to maybe not be such a smart idea. It took me two months to find the part-time early morning coffeehouse job that I would hold for a few months while finishing college, and nearly four months for him to find a late night job making pizza. Needless to say, we were P-O-O-R. We had a little bit of savings and wedding gifts that got us barely through the first couple months, but I still don't know how we wound up paying our rent that year. Even when the jobs came, we were still living well below the poverty line. Our lives were kind of a mess, but we were so happy, just being together, having each other. We found entertainment in really silly things, like baking, or playing board games, or driving to the local college in the middle of the night to watch reruns of Lost in our car. Though we didn't think we would end up calling this random city home, we love it here now, and neither one of us would trade those early years of our marriage for anything, because they taught us, among other things, the art of living joyfully with less.

Who looked so young back then. And we were. 
This is a lesson that neither one of us wants to ever forget: that we can, and have and do, live happily while going without. And while I'll admit I don't miss not wondering where the money for the power bill is going to come from now that we find ourselves a safe distance above the poverty level, we don't really want to live our lives too far from that point of dependence. I think we are probably better off without even the option to spend money without thinking, or eat all our meals out, or fill our house with toys, because the money makes it too tempting to live lifestyle that is not what we truly desire, rich or poor.

So, when we got pregnant, wondering how we were going to get by on one income if I stayed home wasn't really an issue. We had made it on a lot less and our level of happiness was not really any higher than it had been when we were poor. So with the choice of giving our family extra money or extra time, we chose time and haven't looked back. With only one of us working, it's not really that big of a deal to open up our home to people, or have dinner as a family, or be involved in our church, or make time for hobbies and walks and friends, things that my anxiety-ridden heart would be stressing over if we were both trying to work full-time and raise a family.

Our place.
Basically, we are a one-income family because we've continued to live by a philosophy that we adopted long before we had a kid: that our jobs are not as important as our lifestyle. Whether we are making pizza, or teaching high school, or raising children, what is most important to us is that we care for others well. Right now, Andy does that by teaching and making time for us, and I do that by caring for our son and making time for others. It works well for us, and while a teaching salary may truly not be enough for some families, it is more than enough for us in this season.

Are you, or could you ever see yourself being part of a one-income family? What attracts or concerns you about raising kids with less money?

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