Wednesday, December 9, 2009

9 December 1955 “Still Ill, but giving it the Ole’ College Try!”

50s doctor Well, I am still ill. I do not have a fever, but the exhaustion and sore throat continues. Now, however, the sore throat has moved to include laryngitis! It is an odd and scary feeling to open one’s mouth expecting a barrage of wisdom to spill forth, only to receive guttural whips of air and questioning looks!

I am afraid that I may have what Lori mentioned in a comment she had, which she said she had something similar and it unfortunately has lasted 4 weeks! I hope I do not feel it for that long. It’s the exhaustion that is the most upsetting. Yet, with the increased energy I have today as compared to yesterday, I decided I could manage two things: finally make a normal full on breakfast for hubby and I (french toast, eggs-over easy, bacon [of course!] coffee and home made hot chocolate) and second, manage to post something for all of you so I can still feel plugged into my community.

woman with groceries I have to say to all of you, I feel just as if you all stopped by with groceries or casseroles to pop in the oven! Finding that you have come to my blog while I was ill and continued to chat does my heart good. It definitely spurs me onto wanting to have a simple little website for we gals to visit come the new year. It really feels a community to recieve so many wonderful warm wishes and to feel as if you have taken up the ‘typewriter’ for me and in your comments continued blogging in my stead! Thank you all for that.

It seemed the gist of the comments began to be about the ability for anyone to become a SAHM or a SAHH (Is that the correct usage for a stay at home homemaker, or is that redundant to you think?) Anyhoo, I have been thinking of this a lot lately.

I have contemplated many times ways in which I could do posts with ideas to help someone work towards being a SAH. And, in so doing, get good feedback from others. I see that some of you feel, for maybe it is true, that in your area of the world you must be upper middle class to have the privilege to stay home. But, I wonder, if we were to work together, we industrious ladies (and gentleman too!) could we brainstorm ways for more of us to ‘join the fold’ so to speak? I think it would be worth our discussing it.

So, let’s say some of you out there now want to work towards being a SAH. You could try, for starters, to sort of give yourself a specific date to work towards. For instance, you might think, by next summer I would like to be fully SAH, so I will make a schedule that will first bring me down to part time work then to complete work at home. It could be doable if we all put our heads together.

I think the very first and upper most important aspect for anyone wanting such a path is that we have to wrap our head around what today is considered, “normal modern living”. I think what we have thus far been fed as ‘normal quaility of living” is rather a sham. Now, I don’t mean we have to dress in vintage clothes. But, using clothes as an example, we could use the vintage spirit of mending and needing less.  With what you may already have you may need to buy no new clothes for the rest of the year and be fine. And, with the skill of sewing, you could add to your wardrobe. There is an amount of pride and sound financial means to making a dress for yourself. It is first off, not instant gratification, you have worked for it. You also get to make it fit your proportions and your style. You will press that dress and smile a little brighter when you hang that up compared to a 5 dollar shirt from Old Navy that will be gone at the seams in a matter of weeks. Or, even if you buy a special dress, but make it last. It might cost more, but you don’t buy more clothes you have one or two nicer dresses that you keep and care for. This is a concept that really no longer exists. Clothes are cheap so we just buy them and treat them cheaply. Heaps on the floor, some with tags still on, who cares, you can always get more! This is the attitude that leads to our current way of irresponsible spending and empty happiness. I really think we have to change at the very root of our perception of the world around us and our own ideas of happiness to get to a healthy state of spending and frugality. That, at least, was what was needed for me. The 1955 me stares in horror at the old ‘modern ‘ me living in Boston, carrying my too expensive LV handbag as I go to shops to spend on things I don’t need and sometimes didn’t wear! There is hope, we can change and for the better!

But, the very essentials of living a happy fulfilled life I have begun to find are rarely found at the mall or behind the swipe of the credit/debit card. We need food, shelter, and some pleasing diversion. The problem is these basics have, in the past decades, become so twisted out of proportion it does make it hard on a struggling family. So, you really need to focus on those basics and look where you could save. I think even week long ‘projects’ are always eye openers. Try, for instance, to spend 1/2 your food budget one week and see what happens. Don’t worry, you won’t starve, you can always go back out and get more food if you are in dire need, but find out what you really need and you might be surprised.

When I did my 1940’s ration week, I found many ways to scrimp on my food that I then held over once I returned to the plenty of 1955.

Entertainment is probably the largest. I mean there may be those of you out there right now who are saying, “I could never stay home, too many bills” and then you pay 70 plus dollars a month to have cable! Or you need to have a new tv or a tv in every room. These have become what we think ‘normal’ are part of our ‘entitled’ way to live, but we all pay for it in the end.

Let’s say you work part time (24 hours) at minimum wage (in my state that is 8.25 an hour) so that is 198.00 but after you subtract for taxes that take home would be around 138.00. Now your ‘entertainment’ of tv takes up more than 1/2 of that whole work week! When you really start to look at the money =the hours you are at work and then the things you buy in those hours, it gives you a clearer view of how you spend.

I could be truly wrong, but I honestly feel that we could help those who want to be SAHM to make it, or failing that at least help the motherless become SAH and then, through a few years of budgeting and getting it right, be ready to become SAHM.

Even the way we spend money can be changed. The more we are removed from the actual exchange of paper money for goods, the easier it is to spend. When all we have to do is hit ‘buy now’ or press an app on our iphones to purchase things, we don’t think of it as actually spending, somehow it seems some magic gift, but it is!

The other important factor would have to be NO credit cards. We have not used or had credit cards for years. Now Debit cards are becoming the lure of the ‘mini credit card’ for if you do not pay heed to what you spend and keep it in your ledger, they will hold back transactions and then put them through at once, to give you an overdraft. Then you get that fee as well as a percentage to pay back. This is horrible that they can do it, but until that practice could ever be addressed on a legal/political scale YOU have a defense against it: be diligent about keeping your books. Really, and this was a hard lesson for me this year as well, self responsibility seems to have somehow gone on the wayside in our modern times. The consumer world does not want you to be so, for much money is made on late fees, overdraft fees, interest than on the original products cost.

I think for those who would like to become SAH it won’t hurt us to really evaluate the nooks and crannies of how we spend and what we think we ‘have to have or need ‘ in our homes or for our children. We take it for granted that our children should all have cell phones, but just look at what you spend on your cell phone bills to what you may have once spent on land lines. Unfortunately, because of the cell, land lines are horridly expensive, yet I know a young couple who struggle with money all the time and they have two cell phone plans AND a land line. When I asked why they had the land line (which I think is around 70 a month) they said, ‘Oh, it is for the telemarketers’.

Then you can even go further in these costs. Some may say, oh, for only an extra 5 0r 10 dollars a month I can have unlimited texting. But, why do you need it? Do you need it? And that is another 120 dollars a year that you could save.

But, I digress for now (as I am fading and needing my bed) but do you think it possible to make a move towards a single income household for those who want it? I think it could be and I would love to hear all your thoughts and ideas. We could really help solve some problems here. I don’t want to seem preachy, but I think that sometimes we get angry or defensive because we now, in our hearts, we might not be being as true to ourselves about it as we could be, and that anger or outrage can lead to discussion and then to real problem solving that could lead to this goal that I think many of you who are NOT SAH’s would love.

So, again, thank you for all your well wishing and I hope we can have some wonderful rants on this topic. I put it to you, now. Let’s hear it!

p.s. when I am more ‘up to it’ we shall have some fun Christmas posts of making our own decorations and gifts, recipes an such. Fun!

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