Labor Day Thoughts: Balancing Work and Family

I’ve written before that homeschooled kids tackle adult life with great gusto. At least that’s been my experience. My adult kids have eagerly embraced their schooling and/or work. In today’s world, that means lots of work hours and steady commitment to the job.

My son and his wife both have jobs that they love and in which they’re successful. Work takes up enough of their lives that they have to commit to spending time together. It doesn’t just happen. This is a lesson we all learn sooner or later, but they’re learning it right now; so far they appear to be keeping up with the balancing act.

But at some point they’re going to want children, and that’s when the balancing act becomes more complex. Men in particular feel the need to excel at their jobs in order to feed, clothe and shelter their growing families. But sometimes they can become so involved with their jobs that work takes priority over their families, and they can’t see it. Continue reading

More Thoughts on Frugality

I thought of one more reason why I’m frugal. It’s because I see being frugal as a way of earning money without going to work.

For many years I homeschooled and raised kids and did not earn any money. But I viewed the money I saved by living frugally as being like pay: every dollar deducted from the store receipt total because of a coupon or a sale price was a dollar I had earned through my efforts at finding the best price.

As a bonus, it was money I earned without having to pay tax on it. (When wives going to work full-time first came into vogue, one of the criticisms of the concept was the fact that the second income often pushed a couple into a higher tax bracket. I was a newlywed back then, and that knowledge made an impression that never left me, I guess.)

I’ve also been conscious of the sliding scale between income and expenses. Back when I only had two children, I stumbled upon a job opportunity that allowed me to work at home as a writer and editor. The company I worked for gave me as much or as little work as I wanted.

At first, I took on as much as they would give me, thinking I could make a nice side income. But what I discovered was that the more I worked, the less time I had to make meals, thus driving up what we spent on pricy frozen entrees and restaurant food. I also realized that I was spending money on treats and toys for my kids because I felt guilty that I sometimes parked them in front of the television in order to make a deadline. I began to notice a trend: the more money I earned, the more money I spent.

I had to find a balance between earning enough money and saving enough money. So, where was the happy medium?

I never found out, because I had another baby and had to give up the job. Great way to solve that problem 🙂

These days, I still prefer earning money without going to work. We have a publishing business, so I can continue to work at home, and I decide how many projects I want to take on, i.e., how much I want to work. I divide my day between homeschooling our youngest, working on the business, and continuing to be a frugal homemaker. The ideal mix of those things is something I haven’t figured out yet. But one thing I know for sure: I enjoy the challenge of living frugally.

If Mom Goes Back to Work

Lately I think about whether I should go back into the workforce.

After all, I’ve got only one child (age 16) still at home during the day now, and a husband who’s also at home. If my husband homeschooled our son, I could get a job.

However, according to this article, “Studies have found that for every two years a woman is out of the labor force, her earnings fall by 10 percent, a penalty that lasts throughout her career.”

Hmmm. I’ve been home with my kids for 26 years. 10% X 13 equals 130%. That’s quite a drop! That statistic is not referenced, however, so I can’t check to see if it’s legitimate. Just as well. If it were true, my paycheck amount would be a negative number!

That’s assuming I could even find a job. Somehow I don’t think potential employers would be impressed that I’ve spent the past 25 years raising children and homeschooling them. I doubt that homeschooling is one of the keywords they look for when they scan resumes.  8)

Looks like it may not be worth all the upheaval to be a “relauncher,” as women returning to the workforce are now called. Maybe I’ll stick to being a modestly paid but happy work-from-home writer for as long as I can.

Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

Just stumbled onto this thread over at Lucianne.com. The comments are quite interesting.

Two of my favorites:

A BA in sociology (Where you study poor people for four years then become one.)

Senior year is a waste of time. Like Newt Gingrich pointed out, it’s just a government subsidized social dating program.

What do you think?

(Note: comment threads at L.com disappear after 48 hours, so don’t wait too long to check this out.)