Jon gets this question a lot, and I get asked it as well but more infrequently. Often people look at us- a family of four with one more on the way, a house, two cars paid off, a healthy savings account- and try to figure out how we do it on Jon's teacher salary and my paltry 10 hour a week job. Honestly, sometimes I just don't know! I am VERY happy with my life and I do know where the money goes and how it gets spent but when I look at Jon's salary and mine put together and the things we are still able to do- with no debt- it does amaze me. Especially when I see others who can't make it work on basically one income.
I think the biggest thing is that our house mortgage is very small by comparison to many. I prefer not to go into details, but it is comparable to renting an apartment in the city we live in. And we own the house. The main reason for this is that when we got married we wanted a fier upper house. Something that was structurally sound but needed updates and paints and comsetics that we could make our own and eventually make money on. Even with today's economy if we were to sell our house we would make money. Jon is very good at doing things himself as well. So the things we did to our house we actually did ourselves (or at least Jon did) with help from friends. We never hired out anything- laying floors, knocking down walls, installing cabinets, electric, plumbing. This helped a LOT especially when we were both starting out and working at Catholic Schools. So since the beginning our mortgage has been smaller than most people we know.
Another reason is that when I got pregnant with Madeline Jon switched jobs. He went from making one salary to almost doubling it just by going to public schools. So when I stopped working we honestly were not making much less than before Madeline was born. As long I or, or Jon, continue to work part time in some way, the income will stay what it always was.
We never spend what we don't have. If we buy something large we talk about it and yes we do use credit cards but we also pay them off every month. The only time we have carried a balance was on a 0% interest card when we bought our couches and tv. We planned to pay them off in two years and budgeted for it. We did it just before Owen was born.
I have to say the meal planning and shopping the grocery sales is huge for me as well. Every time I read an article about how to save money this is one of the big ones. I have been doing this since just after Madeline was born, not just to save money, but also because it makes my life so much easier. I go to the store once (well 95% of the time I go once a week) and have what I need for all my meals for the week. I look at the flyers before I go and comparison shop. I split my purchases between four major stores- Big Y, Stop and Shop, Arnolds and BJ's. I buy what is on sale that I need/want at Big Y and Stop and Shop each week. I keep tract of which store has better prices for certain items I need when they are not on sale as well. And BJ's is where I buy many of my bulk items as well as milk. Arnolds is where I buy my meat about every 6-8 weeks. They always have great prices so I buy bulk, break it up into freezer bags and freeze until I need it.
Jon and I talk about it every so often. And sometimes we are amazed at how well we are doing. We never have a reason to worry. Jon is happy that he can work at a job he enjoys and still be able to provide enough for the family. One sacrifice is that he works summer school. Being a teacher, one thing that you look forward to is summer vacation. Well for now it means Jon gets to work part time. But he's okay with that. Because the pay off is that we are raising our family the way we want to. And he also knows it isn't forever, one day when the kids are older and I am back to work we will both have the summers off with our kids. And that will be great as well. No we don't go on big fancy vacations each year like some of our friends. And yes we have to sit down before making a big purchase, and extras need to be budgeted for. But we are happy. And we don't feel like we are losing out in life.
So I guess the answer to the question "how do we do it?" is "we just do!"