Money Money Money Money - can we change the record, please?

>> Thursday, 5 April 2012

Recently, I have been thinking about Money. More precisely, Money and Stay At Home Mums – of which I am one.

I want to start by saying that I do not for a moment regret putting my career on hold / consigning 18 years of valuable experience to the dustbin (delete as appropriate) when I made the choice 5 years ago to take a break from full-time paid employment. It has given me the chance to spend some fantastic time with my children, and it made our family’s decision to up sticks and move temporarily to Russia so much simpler.


I hate, hate, HATE not earning my 'own' money. And it’s really starting to get me down.

In these recession-laden times our family is, like most, counting the pennies. Like most with one stay-at-home partner, we have those breakfast-time conversations, the ones that start with ‘You know that x amount which is supposed to last us all month? Well, I know it’s only such and such a date, but I need some more...’, which then move on to ‘And no, I’m not spending it all on chocolate and lattes’, stopping briefly at ‘When was the last time YOU did the supermarket shop?’, and which finish up with ‘So can you transfer some more to my account before you leave for work?’, all before your other half has even opened his mouth to say ‘Yes, sure, let me get straight to it.

You see, the problem with this arrangement – the one where my husband goes out to a place of employment and is paid a salary, whilst I do the more domestic-based tasks, which involve - amongst other things - spending the money, is not his attitude; it’s mine.

I find it really difficult to actually bring myself to discuss any shortfall in funds in a timely manner. For some reason, whilst logically I know that what Husband earns is as a result of our joint efforts and so consequently should qualify as our salary rather than his, it seems that deep down in a basement somewhere in my subconscious, I don’t really believe that. How else to account for the way that I put off discussing the fact that I require additional cash – and put it off, and put it off – until, like some recalcitrant teenager holding their hand out as they leave for school, I need it not next week, not tomorrow, but now-RIGHT-NOW? Not the most mature approach, I think you’ll agree.

For those of you who are thinking ‘Why not just go out and get a job?’ believe me, I've considered it - from every angle. Unfortunately, leaving aside any concerns I might have about the standard of childcare available here (over my dead body), living where we do the cost of a nanny/housekeeper to do all the jobs that I wouldn’t be able to if I were working outside the home would just about cancel out any financial gains I might make. It simply doesn’t make any sense.

So I scrape together what I can through the blog, freelancing and copy editing and so on but frankly, it isn’t much (not even enough to get taxed on) and seems to disappear the moment it hits my bank account.

Something has to change, whether it’s my getting more savvy at marketing my particular skill-set (writing, blogging, marketing, and hunting down suppliers of decent cheddar and chocolate in Moscow), or finally finishing the novel currently lurking at the bottom of list of priorities and selling it for a six-figure sum to the publishing houses all avidly waiting for me to send it off to them.

Hmm. Not a big ask, surely. Or perhaps I should just buy cheaper cheese and chocolate...?


Russia Lite 5 April 2012 at 13:22  

This is always a tough one. I had a friend who said it very succinctly: the one who has the freelancing gig always has to pick up the drycleaning.

Re-dedicate yourself to The Big Work (you know what I mean!)

About Last Weekend 6 April 2012 at 00:44  

Yes I have a lot of angst being a stay at home Mum... loads of my friends have resigned themselves to breaking even on the work pay cheque -childcare thing - they mostly work to get out of the house and meet big people.

Sam I am 6 April 2012 at 01:18  

I just don;t feel the same way - maybe because I manage the finances and my hard working earning husband has to ask me if he wants to spend money.... :)

Potty Mummy 6 April 2012 at 10:32  

RL, message received and understood...

ALW, by 'big people' I assume you mean grown ups? Or do you mean 'important' people? In either case, I get it!

Sam, you have it all sewn up - but then I've known that for years. x

Working Mum 6 April 2012 at 11:34  

Whether one or both of you work,if you are a true partnership I think it is joint money and, as such, should go into a joint account from which all living expenses are paid. If he keeps "his" salary in "his" account and gives you "housekeeping" it sounds like you are living in the 50s. Have you considered pooling your resources?

Even though I am a working mum, our salaries are pooled into one joint account and there are never any conversations about who earns more or who has spent what because it all goes into one pot for our family.

Maybe it'll just take that leap?

Sarah@Mum's gone 2 Aus 6 April 2012 at 12:09  

I agree that having a joint account makes things easier but even with a joint account I still feel like a child when explaining to my other half that X money we had put aside for X has been spent. I also feel I need to discuss all big expenses with him before proceeding whereas he is more relaxed about doing as he pleases. It's a tough issue. Different country and continent but I'm at the same cross-roads; continue with the blogging and freelancing or get a 'proper' job...wonder who'd get the dry cleaning then?!

Mrs. Munchkin 6 April 2012 at 16:46  

Well, I think you captured this topic very well! I am with you....And I feel guilty if I have run out of money and have to ask him for money to get a coffee. Why? Why should I feel guilty? I shouldn't and I bring it on myself. If I buy an item at one store and find it cheaper for a few dollars less another place, I wonder should I take the more expensive back? It will cost me that in gas to take it back, but yet I still ponder. And hubby could care less. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest ;-)

Hope to meet you in a few weeks!

Potty Mummy 6 April 2012 at 18:06  

WM, if we were in the UK the joint account thing would be an obvious answer. For various reason, however, it isn't, here.

Sarah - hate to say it but I think we both know the answer to that one!

Mrs M, any time, be my guest!

Iota 7 April 2012 at 13:31  

I didn't think I felt like this, until I started work at the toy store. Once the Christmas rush had been and gone, I was working 10 hours a week on the minimum wage, so it didn't make a significant dent on our finances. But it felt really good. Really good. So now I get it. I get that being part of the financial provision for the family is important to the subconscious basement.

A part of the answer is to focus on all the things that would cost MORE if you had a job. It really mounts up. It's not just the cleaner/nanny. There are loads of hidden extras (office wardrobe, for starters). That's just financial. Then there's the cost to family life, the cost to health (all that stress), the cost to relationships, etc etc. Trouble is, we are so used to reckoning things only in financial terms that we find it hard to do otherwise.

Muddling Along 9 April 2012 at 11:21  

We have friends where the stay at home parent gets a salary from the working parent so they both have personal money and then there's the family spending pot to try and get around the having to ask for money thing

But this is something that I'm spending a lot of time thinking about - how can I replace my salary and where are there opportunities and the answer is that there are very few unless you can find a portfolio of things that come together

Fingers crossed

nixdminx 10 April 2012 at 23:35  

There's one thing I have to say about your post - there will come a time when you don't need childcare... Yes, it's true, and if that means being a bit crunched for now, I don't think it's such a big deal if you have a great exPat experience too. And anyway, I just dropped by to ask when you're back in London so we can drinks somewhere swanky ;)
xx Eva

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