Saturday, March 14, 2015

Defining luxury

I really liked the recent New York Times Motherlode blog post, A Stay-at-Home Parent is Not a 'Luxury'. I have sometimes been irritated when I've been told this about our life, but haven't been able to put into words exactly why it bothers me, and the author does a pretty good job summing it up.

To some extent, of course, my staying home IS a luxury - there are many families where two incomes are required simply to provide for basic needs. But in comparison to most middle class families, it's simply a matter of priorities. We don't go on nice vacations. We don't have game systems or cable. Our kids don't do things like music or tumbling classes or immersion preschools. Why are those things not considered luxuries?

My staying home means less income, and it also means less spending on things that are just for fun. We live comfortably, for sure, but I don't feel as free to spend (especially on myself) as I did when we had two incomes, and we weigh our large purchases a lot more carefully than we did in the past. If my staying home is a luxury, it's because we gave up other luxuries that are more often considered necessities - cable and takeout and enrichment classes and weekends away. It's all relative.

3 comments:

  1. That was a really great article. I read it earlier this week. It is a perspective I hadn't seen in the media.

    I also really liked your comment in one of your women's money week posts about how you hadn't planned on staying home, but it turned out you really didn't have the option to go back (at least not right away) due to baby's health. I don't plan on staying home either, but you just never know.

    Although I do resent

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  2. I think for many families having two jobs is a luxury! When I had two under two, the cost of daycare actually exceeded my take home pay, and that was before we figured in work related expenses such as travel and an upgraded wardrobe, even if I packed my lunch everyday. I wanted so badly to keep working because I really had a job I loved and that would have been very family friendly when my kids entered school, but I simply did not make enough to even cover the cost of childcare. People were constantly telling me how lucky I was to stay home and I was thinking "You are lucky you get free childcare from your relative and you get to keep working!"
    It all works out eventually though. My former employer invited me back when my kids were 2 and 3 and needed to start preschool anyhow. At first it just covered the cost, but eventually costs began to go down and now I have them both in school all day and I get off just in time to pick them up everyday.

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    1. That's a good point! I think we would have been able to afford childcare for one (daycare, not a nanny) but probably not two unless I somehow got a big raise in the job I was doing. Experts often say that you have to pay attention to your future wage (ie, all the money you're foregoing down the road by staying home) when you make the decision, but that doesn't help pay the daycare bills when you're in the hole every month.

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