Help making sacrifices so DW can be SAHM


I will be graduating with my graduate degree in a few months. Next up is what is called a postdoc. Its basically me working (research) but getting paid poorly. Kind of like a residency for MDs. I have the entire country at my fingertips for a postdoc.

Right now DW works, we have a nice house (which we can’t afford and are selling right now) and the DD and DS are in day care. The ideal situation would be to get a postdoc of my choosing and DW stays home with the children. But that would mean that a family of 4 would have to live on roughly $36K per year before taxes, insurance, etc. Can this be done?

In my mind it can. It would require selling a car (becoming a one car family), living in a 2 bedroom apartment or condo which would mean kids sharing a room and not having any space (compared to a house right now), being very tight on the grocery budget, never eating out, etc.

The good news is a postdoc will only last at most 3 years before I can get a real job. And each year there is a raise so I will be making a little more each year. Does this sound reasonable? We would have no cable or very limited cable, etc.

The way we are living right now is nice, but I know it won’t last forever. My wife HATES change and I fear this would be a big change for her. Any suggestions, or tips would be greatly appreciated.

ETA: my wife does want to be a SAHM so this isn’t just my plan, its OUR plan.


We lived comfortably (for us, anyway ;)) on that much as a family of 3 before our second baby, in a 3 bedroom house (and cable!) with 1 car. We live in GA. If you can go anywhere, try to go where the cost of living is the best, preferably closer to family if there are several tied choices.

If you sell your house, will you make any money from the sale, or will you just sell it for what you still owe? That could be a big help. :slight_smile:

Good luck! It definitely can be done!


Can definitely be done. We are a family of 5 living on less than that. Housing is the big one. We sold our big beautiful new house and bought a very old house that needs work. We are doing that work ourselves a little at a time, but our mortgage is so low, it is worth it.

Once I got home, I learned to cook from scratch, which saves us tons of money. We get most of the kids clothes second hand. Our cars are old and paid off. We don’t have cable. We don’t go out a lot. But it is all worth it for me to be here with the kids.

If it is important enough to you both, you can most definitely make it work. I know that I am much happier now, home and poor, than I was when I worked full time and never got to see my kids. To me, it isn’t suffering, it’s a joy. Other people think I’m crazy, but I love it. It may take a few months of adjustment, but it gets easier after awhile too.



I think Teakafrog’s post is really good :thumbsup:
I agree with CatholicSam, I think you are at an advantage being able to choose where you live. With some companies cost of living goes hand in hand with pay, so if you will get the same pay regardless of where you live, I really think you should take advantage of that if possible and seek a place where the cost of living is lower, more bang for your buck. I don’t know what other factors you will have in choosing (family, weather, etc) but if you can look into this as it can be a big factor on how you end up living. Also, compare and contrast the pros and cons of buying a home vs renting wherever you go. I’ve heard both ways renting being a money pit and also renting saving you money since landlord has to take care of home repairs etc. Since this is temporary, that may be a factor to take into consideration. This may sound contradictory to what I just wrote, but don’t act like it is temporary from a monetary point of view. Don’t live like you will be making more soon, but like this will be your pay for a long time, keeping you away from loading on extra debt you plan on paying off as soon as you make more. I think its a good idea to always budget according to what you have and not what you will have. Hmm… I am just giving you my personal opinions, so you can take them with a grain of salt.


My family and I have been living on less than 36K since Jan. We are a family of 4. I becamse a SAHM. We (prayfully) haven’t had to sell our house yet, though it’s always possible.

We live very meagerly. We don’t eat out (unless someone else buys), we only have internet so we can sell on e-bay, we don’t have cable t.v., our cellphones are paid for by his boss (we do side work for it), we also have student loan bills (not as much as you I’m sure).

It’s very hard, but very worth it. The main thing for us was not eating out. We save A LOT by eating at home.

My husband recently got a job that bumps us close to 30K a year. But we make it work. WE both want me to stay home. :thumbsup: It’s more worth it to us than to have all that “extra” stuff.

Food: we shop at Aldi for most stuff. Other stuff I stock up on when it’s on sale. I make cookies from scratch and lots of other things too. I get bread at our Wonder Bread Outlet for 49 cents a loaf.
Clothes: Once Upon a Child and stuff like that.


We’re in a simliar situation. I’m a SAHM, and my DH makes about 42K before taxes, etc. However, we live in the Chicago suburbs fairly close to the city b/c he works right outside of city limits, which means rent is ridiculously high. We also are paying about $1,200 in student loans per month. We have one car and I cook from scratch. I’ve bought most of the few items of clothing from thrift stores for myself, and go garage saleing for a lot for things for the baby. DH also has a second job (which may not be possible for you) tutoring which he does about 2 nights a week and that money is what we use to buy groceries with.

I am also working on earning money myself, which is still in the beginning planning stages, but I hope to be able to do something to help while staying at home :).


America’s Cheapest Family

…Over the years we’ve accomplished some above average things on a modest income. It took us 9 years to pay off our first house - on an average income of $35,000. We currently spend $350 on groceries for our family of seven, and have never had debt of any kind except for a home mortgage.

**America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams **


Wow, how are you doing that!?

Keep in mind many of our expenses are things like student loans (both me and my wife have them). I am hoping I can get the lending companies to give me a deferrment due to hardship.

Most student loans can be deferred for years. Trust me, I know. :stuck_out_tongue: Call your lending company. You can get your loans consolidated with your wife’s and then have the eligible portions deferred. Sallie Mae was very helpful for me. With the consolidation programs, you can do a long term repayment program where the first 5 years are super low (interest only, I guess.) We lived on way less than that when we had two kids. We lived in a one bedroom apartment and made the living room into our second bedroom. It sounds like you have a good plan worked out. A SAHM can learn how to save tons of money- cooking everything from scratch, bargain hunting, etc. There is a reason they call it home economics. :smiley:


Is that you or are you quoting them? Thats pretty cool.


I wish it were me. No this is a family that has recently been featured and has written a how to book.


The things people call sacrifices is ridiculous if you really think about it. Sorry to the OP, but you come from such a priviledged society that selling one car is a sacrifice? Having two kids in one bedroom is a sacrifice, not eating out is a sacrifice?

I don’t consider those sacrifices, just a way to live a simpler life. Simpler lives are calmer and happier. If you cook from scratch you can eat healthier, you won’t want to eat the junk that most restaurants serve. If you don’t always have access to a car then you may get to GASP WALK!! Yepp walk and enjoy a little time of peace, or ride public transit with the rest of humanity. Jesus probably would have ridden public transit instead of tooling around in a car on his own.

Sorry I just can’t help it. We live a very frugal life by some people’s standards but I just see the luxuries like getting free wild meat from friends, homeschooling instead of privtae school, good home made baking out of organic fresh ground flour (cheaper than store bought flour)…my husband had been taking in around $10,000 a year fro the last five years. We have had debts apart from our mortgage, but we do pay them off from profits of selling or remortgaging our house.

We do enjoy our life immensly, but we enjoy it close to home usually. We have gone on bigger trips as well to be with family members.


Sorry, let me clarify. I don’t mean sacrifice meaning a hardship. I mean “to get rid of”. I am asking for helpful advice on how to live on a smaller budget than I am living on now. I agree with you in a sense, but you need to get out in the real world. Say I work 20 miles away and there’s no pub transport. You’re asking me to walk 20miles each way (oh and by the way spend time with my family?) Some things in my city (I don’t know where you live) are neccessary where say in manhattan or san fran, or DC with great pub transport they are not needed and walking is great to do!

Thanks for the unhelpful advice and thanks to other for the helpful advice. That’s why I rarely post on these boards because there are so many judgemental people who preface every comment with “I don’t mean to offend but…” If the post offends you than don’t responsd. You are obviously not being logical about my post. Nowhere did I ever complain that this is going to hurt or be a sacrifice in the way you mean it. I was asking logistical advice on what steps/measure I would need to take to live a different budget. You are the one who took it a step beyond. I’m through with these forums. You could have just prayed for me instead of trying to criticize. You think I’m dumb enough to believe that I am not blessed with what I have? Like I haven’t seen the rest of the world? Give me a break.

ETA: give me a break and get a life. Stop trolling on these boards and be helpful.


I haven’t read through this website, but I think this might help

Also, don’t think Jehanne Darc was bashing you personally, it was most probably a vent about U.S. society in general. It just happened to land smack dab on you :D.

I’m sorry if you’re through with these forums, but it’s probably best to take a deep breath, let the initial hurt feelings or offended reaction take time to settle, and pop in here from time to time.


My husband and I have also been cutting back on living expenses over the past year or so. While it has been an adjustment we are finding ourselves quite excited about living more simply. We have set some goals to pay off our home & car loan asap and raise a large family on one income. It CAN be done.

We have found the biggest help was a shift in our mindset. What do we really need to get by on? What can we do without? And happily do without? I think this is the key to not feeling deprived…to cheerfully make the sacrifices required…this took us a little time to achieve. :slight_smile:

I have adopted some old fashioned sayings to help me…“Waste not want not”…“Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”…“A dollar saved is a dollar earned”…“It is easier to save a dollar than to earn a dollar”. I am embarrassed to admit that I never really believed these sayings when I was younger. I so wish we had lived like this since the beginning of our marriage. :o

For your dear wife, I would suggest that she read
"The Tightwad Gazette" or other frugal living websites/publications. They will offer inspiration and encouragement that a more simple lifestyle can be achieved…and happily! :slight_smile:

God bless!


I don’t recommend putting student loans on deferment for an indefinite time especially if they’re unsub loans from the government as they still compound interest and thus resulting in a higher payoff and higher monthly payments.

Depending on where you live and want to live of course one can live on 35,000 a year. We live in the Philadelphia area where unless you want to live in an area where drive by and shootings are an hourly occurence its not possible.

To me there must be a balance of what your willing to give to live cheaply (an example for us would be that I refuse to live in a cheaper neighborhood where shootings and drugs are rampant, another would be I refuse to go on foodstamps, welfare or any government program just so I could be a SAHM)I got a job working part time at Whole Foods which actually works out well because I get a discount on our groceries as well.

You said your wife currently works, is the healthcare through her? Thats something else I’d consider as well. Is there any way for her to work another 6-12 months and then put that extra money away or pay off any outstanding debts so y’all are protected in case of an emergency?


I guess we both hit each other on uncomfortable spots. You with what I like to call “spoiled child complaints” (Have patience I am just explaining myself, not defending) Obviously I was focusing on your fear of being able to make it on what I would consider adequate means. The other people responding were more encouraging I agree. I just get so mad when people complain about their “lacks” I forget that to them those are indeed true concerns and they don’t need immediate kicks in the but.

I did lambaste you with what is meant more for society in general. I am working out my frustration with others who do complain regularly. You did not complain. You presented a situation of stepping into the unknown world that is similar to the one I have been inhabiting quite happily for the last 8 years.

I suggest you do not quit just because I said something that hurt you. I don’t come here very often, but I have been here with much more gripping issues and have felt attacked. The best attacks however were useful in challenging me and my perspective.

I apologize and I thank you for taking the time to respond and share how my post resonated with you. I see how I lack in charity, yet again.

I will pray for you. Take courage and know that you will always have what you need. You will always be able to have a joy, no matter how small. God is always providing us with so much it is almost embarrassing considering how little compassion I had for you today.


In my mind it can. It would require selling a car (becoming a one car family), living in a 2 bedroom apartment or condo which would mean kids sharing a room and not having any space (compared to a house right now), being very tight on the grocery budget, never eating out, etc.

Don’t be offended, :smiley:

but where I live no one has two cars, all siblings share rooms, and people only very rarely eat out. And we’re fine, thank you! :slight_smile:

So I think there’s no need to be worried. God bless.

P.S. What’s your field?


For anybody reading my post to the OP and his response. Can you help with something? Was what I said really so awful? DId I say it in a rude way? SHould I have not said anything?
I am not asking because of this particular person only. I am asking so I can grow to be a better perspn.



…maybe dont hijack his thread…he was / is looking for advice on how to make ends meet on 1 income…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit