Tag Archives: SAHM

Working Mom to SAHM… And Back Again

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When I was a kid, the one thing I never expected about being an adult is how many different lives you can lead all within the same life.  Parenthood, it turns out, is one event that can be a life-shifter.

I worked in an educational sales field before being a mom, and never expected that I would want to stay home full time as a parent.  I wrote about our transition to a single income here.  The days spent reading nursery rhymes on the couch and playing “Dinosaur Train” in the driveway were unforgettable and such a blessing.

I wondered if I would ever go back to work, and if I did, how hard would it be to transition back?  It turned out that the hours spent reading with my daughter were the foundation to my return to work.  We read books about American Girl characters, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and many, many dinosaur books.

My husband and I are not willing to give up having me home in summers, so that has limited my work choices.  When my daughter was in 1st grade, I started back to work at her school as a substitute cafeteria worker.  This was hard, physical work, but it gave me experience interacting with all kinds of children.  I met amazing, hard working, ladies who worked at the cafeteria and then went to work at other physically demanding, low paying jobs.

Taking a very entry-level job in a school was my starting point for other school opportunities that didn’t involve lifting 25 pounds of mashed potatoes.  I got to know the principal which allowed me to step into a reading paraprofessional position.   I have found that to increase your wage in these part-time positions, you have to be willing to move around a little and try other school districts.  Each position increased my hourly rate and gave me more experience.

This fall I was looking on the teachers’ job positing website to read about a position a friend was applying for, and I happened upon the holy grail for me… a school library position.  I silently showed it to my husband and he was fully unboard.  It was 3 miles from home, paid about 20% more, and had benefits like paid holidays.

I got a call back for an interview quickly, but it was a strange interview and I didn’t think I had a chance.  At the end, I handed them a list of the 50 or so kids’ fiction books I read in 2016.  

I got the job.  I think the knowledge of kid lit was the clincher.

So, I am happily at a school library every day, home before the bus drops DD off, and making enough that I get matching retirement benefits and an opportunity to contribute to a 403b which I definitely am taking advantage of.

It felt like a long road back, but every job I took contributed to the next job.  As soon as I got the library job I emailed my cafeteria boss and thanked her for my time there…without that job I would have never have landed the other ones.

My advice to a parent choosing to stay home with small children is to do it if your finances and heart are telling you to.  You may find that being home gives you new skills and interests that take you in a career direction you would never have anticipated ūüďö!
 

 

 

 

 

Summer Spending Slide

We picked strawberries!

We picked strawberries!

The calendar says summer, though in the midwest it is wet, foggy and cold. ¬†I have polar fleece and wool socks on, for real! ¬†The temperature doesn’t feel like summer but the spending does! ¬†It’s week 2 of being home with my daughter, and things feel a little more financially disorganized than usual. ¬† Exhibit A: ¬†unplanned trip to Michaels¬†Crafts today = 15.00. ¬†Now, on one hand, I am happy to do it as my daughter has been working tirelessly in her room on “world crafts.” ¬†On the other hand, too many days of living it up will show up in the ol’ budget at the end of the week.

Last summer I had the purse-strings cinched a little tighter as we had an expensive vacation to Santa Fe and the need to save for our exterior renovation project. ¬†This year we have many smaller items we are budgeting for, but nothing forcing us to really push hard and save like mad. ¬†Honestly, we have spent so many years pushing hard on big goals, that it feels kind of strange to be without them. So this summer I am trying to find that balance between spending money on worthwhile, fun outings while not getting to the point of ‘I forgot to make a meal plan so we have to go out to eat…’

Last summer I also struggled a bit in the transition to being home full-time. ¬†See ‘Summer Time, Is the Living too Easy?’¬† ¬† Curiously, I wrote that almost a year ago exactly! ¬†This confusing state seems part and parcel of adapting to summer vacation. ¬† For today, I have my crafting kid singing away in her bedroom (with a sack of feathers and beads from Michaels…) and I am off to prepare dinner at home using ingredients on hand. ¬†That’s the balance we strike for today.

Trying to balance spendy days with cheap fun days...

Trying to balance spendy days with cheap fun days…

 

 

Getting Back to Work after Being an At-Home Mom

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I left my career to be a stay at home mom when my daughter was three.  My husband and I worked hard to get into a financial position to make that a reality.  Between the cost of daycare and the hefty taxes on the second income, we were surprised at how quickly we adapted to the loss of income.  Being an at-home mom also allowed us to homeschool for the first year of kindergarten, which we all relished.

Once my daughter was in full-day school, it took me about 2 weeks until I felt the urge to work again.  The dilemma was that none of us wanted to get back to a lifestyle of paying for after school care,  emergency meals out due to lack of planning, and fights about who would stay home with a sick kid.

I knew there was no way I could fit into a schedule at a national company with shifts. ¬†I was available from 8:45 until 2:00, not during Christmas break, or summer. ¬†Sounds like just what you want to hear as an employer, right? ¬†The upside is that I had a sales background and am a responsible person that likes to work. ¬†My solution – a local fancy bakery! ¬†In my cover sheet I laid out the whole situation, and offered that if they needed to slot in a college student to cover when I couldn’t work, I would be happy to give them my hours when they were home for winter break or summer. ¬†It worked!

I really enjoyed the work, the customers and the 50% off discount! ¬†The bakers were a crazy fun bunch. ¬†The money I earned helped us in our last push to pay off the mortgage. ¬†While we were getting our financial house in shape at home, the bakery was headed in the other direction. ¬†Too much debt, creditors calling… you were afraid to answer the phone! ¬†The bakery trimmed back to one location and that seemed to help. ¬†I worked there for 1 year, but no regrets… and I still usually get a discount when I get to the other location!

What I learned from the experience is that even though you may not have the most flexible schedule to offer, an amazing work ethic and people skills go a long way for employers, especially in part-time jobs. ¬†It’s better to be honest up front about your scheduling limitations. ¬†I will bring you up to date on my current employment soon.

Have you returned to work after being a SAHM (or Dad!)?  What did you do to re-enter the workforce?

What I Did This Week to Save Money – Sept 1

Beautiful Butterfly Nets

Beautiful Butterfly Nets

Happy September! ¬†We’ve been busy this week saying a last good-bye to summer and also celebrating my birthday. ¬†It hasn’t been the most frugal week ever, but we did have some money-saving highlights.

  • Our front light post stopped working, which is a problem when your block has no streetlights. ¬†Mr. Saver, aka The Reluctant Do-It-Yourselfer, tackled the problem with tenacity, battling mosquitoes and a stripped screw that did not want to budge! ¬†He replaced the entire light that sits atop the pole. ¬†Bravo!
  • Speaking of Mr. Saver, he has been on a LED lightbulb conversion kick lately. ¬†I hope he will pen a post for you in the coming weeks on this wise long-term investment.
  • Came in under budget on our electricity bill, and pushed the surplus money into our long-term savings.
  • Made an extra $ 65.00 selling items on eBay and Craigslist.
  • Started back to work for fall. ¬†Starting next week I will be working about 20 hours a week. ¬†When working on family finances, you can’t forget to examine the income side of things. ¬†Watch for an upcoming post on transitioning from SAHM to part-time employment.
  • Sorry, you knew I was going to say it… eating from the garden! ¬†The 3rd crop of arugula is just at the right size. ¬†I’ve almost thrown in the towel on the zucchini… I can’t keep up with it and I am afraid to look and see what kind of baseball-bats are growing under all those leaves.
  • Ran a report to look at our grocery spending this month, which was low for us. ¬†Spent a total of $ 338.00, or about 85.00 a week. ¬†We were home all month, and ate at home most days. ¬†My guess is that we spent less by eating meals based on what we had at home, and using a lot of garden produce. ¬†We had a lot of vegetarian or almost-veg meals.

We ended the week depositing a bit of unspent money into our long-term savings and also Christmas gift budget accounts.  We are so close to meeting our goal to increase cash savings!

How was your week?

Summer-Time, Is the Living too Easy?

IMG_3597-privateIt is day 5 of summer vacation, and since yesterday I have been feeling the ‘Saver’ in me losing power as quickly as a teenager’s iPhone. ¬†My daughter and I have really enjoyed the free activities at the library, taking picnic lunches to parks, ¬†and swimming at the local pool. ¬†In the back of my mind, though, I find myself thinking ‘Hmmm….lunch at the mall sounds good’ or ‘Maybe I should switch my meal plan this week’ or ‘Thai-iced coffee!’ ¬†I have yet to do any budget damage.

As I observe myself having these money-spending thoughts, I keep going back to one thing: ¬†I am not working this summer. ¬†Normally my job in a kitchen is a source of much focus, physical movement and adrenaline. ¬†I think that focus and intensity spills over into the rest of my life when I am working and now that is gone. ¬†It’s summer-time and the living is too easy!

I don’t plan to work this summer — being home in the summer with my daughter is a great luxury and source of joy. ¬†Now I am aware, though, that my desire to add excitement to the day is just my brain noticing the absence of my job. ¬†I am also realizing that when retirement comes some day, two people not working could equal two people wanting to go to the mall and get drinks at the coffee shop every day.

And that Thai-iced coffee?  I am enjoying a home-made version that vaguely resembles the real deal:  leftover coffee, chilled; add sweetener; pinch of cardamom; top off with milk of your choice and ice.

What do you do when you have the desire to spend out of boredom?