Things I’ve Learned About Money by Not Having a Lot of It.

Last week I told you about my biggest financial success: becoming a stay-at-home mom. Today I’d like to expand upon the things I’ve learned along the way.

When I quit my job a month before our first child was born, nearly half our income went away. We were left with $19,000 a year to live on. Yes, $19,000. Right now you might be saying that me quitting my job was possibly the stupidest thing I could have done. But I think it was a smart decision.

I learned really quickly that I had to prioritize financial obligations. Sure, it would have been nice to have lived in a single family 3 bed/2 bath home with a big yard. Instead we chose a single wide manufactured home in a park. The price was right, and the park was family friendly. Yes, we lived near a rock quarry, but when my daughter became a toddler, she LOVED looking at the trucks from our kitchen window.

Having a nice new 4 door car or SUV would have been nice. A triple digit car payment was out of the question, though. Instead, I drove around in a 1990 Toyota Celica. Yes, it only had two doors, but we managed to fit a carseat safely in the back, and we made do with what we had. And that Celica was a blast to drive!

I also learned that it’s OK to accept help, and it’s important to give back when you can. I received a lot of hand-me-downs that first year of being a stay-at-home mom. I think I bought maybe a half a dozen outfits for my daughter, most from a consignment store. She had plenty of clothes, thanks to the generosity of our friends with older children. At times it was humbling to accept help from others, but through that experience I became more sympathetic toward people who don’t have a lot of resources.

I was fortunate to have a large network of friends and family. Some people aren’t so fortunate. Even though my husband and I are currently going through some rough financial times, I think it’s still important for us to give as much as we can. If we don’t have extra money, we can give our children’s outgrown clothes or our time. No matter how badly off I think I am, there’s always someone who needs more than me. By helping others, I have learned to become more mindful of the blessings in my own life.

One of the most important things I have learned as a stay-at-home mom is to ignore peer pressure. Just because my friends are all driving newer cars doesn’t mean that’s the best choice for me. A few years ago, my husband and I considered buying a home. In some ways we felt like we should, because all of our friends own their homes. Still, we sensed the timing wasn’t right, and we passed. It’s a good thing we did, because we’d certainly be in foreclosure by now had we moved ahead in buying a house.

Instead, we continue to rent our terribly outdated little duplex. I will admit that this place gets on my last nerve from time to time. I hate the kitchen cabinets. I hate that the washer and dryer are in the kitchen. I hate the bland “rental cream colored” walls. But we have everything we need, and we can afford to live here without busting the budget. So we count our blessings and don’t worry about the fact that everyone else seems to be ahead of us in the financial game right now. Our time will come. And if it doesn’t, so what? It’s not the end of the world.

Finally, I have learned that money isn’t the most important thing in life. Relationships are the most important thing in life. My relationship with God, my relationship with my family, my relationship with my friends, and how I treat other people…that’s important. If I live my entire life without a lot of money, I will consider my life a success if other people see the love of God through me.

So now that I’ve gone on about how little money we’ve had over the years (and don’t worry…that $19,000 annual income has increased over the years), why do I consider being a stay-at-home mom my biggest financial success? Simple. Because being a stay-at-home mom has taught me how to manage my money well, and it’s forced me to have a proper perspective on money in light of the more important things in life.

This post was written as part of the first ever group writing project at Get Rich Slowly. There’s still time for you to participate! And be sure to check in with Get Rich Slowly on Saturday for the full list of participants!


By , on Oct 17, 2007
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Hallo Friend , i like w/ ur article.

  2. Sharon:

    Or, if you can’t hear the TV, how about turning the captioning on while the washer is on? This also helps kids learn to read faster.

  3. Jim:

    Lovely post.

    I’m getting married in a few months and I have no doubt that kids are soon to follow, at which point my fiance will need to take some time off of work, if not quit altogether as you did. This post gave me quite a bit to think about in terms of our future.

  4. Our family of 10 lives on $30,000 per year. (Mom and Dad, 8 kids, 15 down to 6 months.) We own our home. We own our cars. We do not take government assistance.

    It can definitely be done.

  5. A friend of mine decided to be a stay at home mom after her fist child was born and she too found it not only possible but in many aspects inspiring as she learned how to handle a budget and see what things were really important. Thanks for sharing

  6. Bobbo:

    How wonderful are the words of experience. How sweetly TRUTH rings. The best things in life…aren’t things. I assure you, I have very little money. It’s ok though. I AM one of the richest men in the world.. and I know it!

  7. hi frugal mommy. i admire your sagacity and courage to quit your job. one day i will quit mine too and be a problogger like you. if you have time to look at a different perspective on financial literacy please check out my blogsite thanks

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