It's a question I also ask myself: How can I make money to help out my husband or family? A reader also recently asked this question of me:
My name is Jamie. I'm a 34 year old Christian wife and homeschooling mama of 4 little ones (only 2 of them are school aged)...I have a simple question to ask you that may be difficult to answer but I'd love any advice you have! I often think about what it means to be a Proverbs 31 wife, and something has been tugging at my heart for several years now. I long to help my husband out in the financial area, (i.e. work from home) but there's one major problem...I don't know what my talents are! Sounds funny I know, but I honestly don't know what I could do to make a little extra money to help us out. We are not necessarily in dire straits with finances but my husband is self employed and is often stressed about money since all the weight is on him and I wish I could do more to help...I feel stuck. And I know we are total strangers but do you have any advice? Right now the only answer I can come up with is 'Pray.'
Thank you for any help!
Jamie, you're not alone! I think most stay at home moms ask themselves this question on a regular basis. Many stay at home moms even feel guilty for not helping their family financially. In fact, it seems that in our society, it's expected that both the husband and wife should bring in some income. Even in my own household, I often feel there's an expectation that I must bring in some sort of income, or earn extra money when it is needed.
But I'd like you to question this whole idea.
Until quite recently, in all but the very poorest American families, wives were not expected to make money. Not because they weren't capable of doing so, and not even because our society expected husbands should be able to support their wives and children all by themselves. Wives generally didn't work because...they were already working.
They were working in the home. Caring for the children, keeping the house tidy, cooking...All important things, and all things that would cost an arm and a leg to hire someone to do.
So, if you think about it, they were helping their husbands financially by not going out and getting a job.
Even today, if you add up what the average working mom earns, then subtract all the expenses of her working away from home (including fuel, work clothes, lunches, convenience or restaurant dinner food, and childcare), you'll usually find she's not adding much at all to the family income. (Here's a good example.)
Maybe that's why so many modern moms strive to work at home.
But here's another little secret that didn't use to be a secret at all: Back in the day, housewives contributed to the family income in another important way. They were excellent house managers.
That's not a term we hear anymore. What exactly is a house manager? It's someone who keeps the household running smoothly. It's someone who saves her husband time and frustration. It's someone who makes it easier for her husband to go off to work every morning. And it's someone who sees to it he has to work less hard, rather than more hard.
That's a far cry from many wives I see today, who go on shopping sprees with the attitude that "he'll just have to figure out a way to pay for it."
And so one very important way you can contribute to the family income is by spending the family income wisely.
How much can you save by being a good household manager? Potentially thousands every year.
Now, maybe you already are a good household manager and all you (and your husband) need to do is appreciate just how much you contribute to the family. If that's the case, another thing to consider is your lifestyle. Do you live like the average American, expecting expensive vacations, the latest gadgets and grown up toys, lots of stuff, lots of "going out," and lots of debt?
If so, learning to love a life living within your means is an important goal. Start recognizing that debt is slavery. (Really think on that!) Start realizing that stuff is also a sort of slavery. And start recognizing that if your husband is stressed out trying to pay for things you don't really need it's not worth it. At. All.
I don't know you, Jamie. So I don't know what your lifestyle is like or whether I'm "preaching to the choir." You may still be thinking, "We still need some extra cash." I get it. I seriously do! So here are some thoughts on how you can save or earn money, making your family more comfortable:
* Keep praying. Prayer is so powerful, and if you allow God to, he will either change your heart so you don't feel the need to work, or he will provide the perfect job for you.
* Remember Proverbs 31. I don't believe for a second that she did her trading and clothes selling while she had young children at home. Because young children require pretty much everything a woman has! That section of the Bible shows us the entire life of one "noble woman." Keep that in mind.
* Build skills. Build one of your interests until you're an expert at a marketable skill. For example, in the full version of the email you sent me, you said you like to write; so consider developing that skill by blogging and contributing to small local publications, and eventually you may become professional enough to grow your blog or write for national publications. Or choose one of your other interests to develop.
* Use Swagbucks to earn gift certificates for places like Amazon, where you can buy discounted food and other necessities. Or use those gift cards for school supplies and gifts throughout the year.
* Consider doing more shopping online. Some people find they can get better prices on diapers, toilet paper, and so on by shopping at Amazon, especially if they use Subscribe and Save.
* Keep a price book for groceries, toiletries, and other commonly used household items.
* Stock up when you can. When items you use go on sale, buy a bunch. In the long run, that saves money.
* If you're not already, get organized about serving food. Meal plan (here's my super easy method) and always have easy peasy meals on hand (in the pantry or freezer) for those "I'm too tired to cook nights." Eating out is not only unhealthy, but it burns through money fast.
* Pack your husband's lunch, if possible. If he loves eating out for lunch, see if he'll agree to doing it only once or twice a month.
* Shop used. Children's clothes, for example, are so much cheaper used. Also, depending upon where you live, you may find thrift stores, Craigslist, etc., can provide quality household goods for a fraction of the cost.
* Dump the dish or cable. TV is outrageously expensive. Learn to live with Netflix (saving thousands per year). Consider DVDs from the library, too (as long as you can get them returned in a timely way).
* Cook from scratch as much as possible. Your family will not only be more healthy, but you'll save a lot of money. I also think you'll find that cooking from scratch often really isn't that much more time consuming.
Readers: What are your suggestions for how Jamie - or anyone - can save or earn money?