Long before I started writing at Northern Cheapskate, I wrote about my personal finances in a journal.
I wrote about my triumphs at the stores and my struggle with paying the bigger bills. I scribbled down strategies for saving money and put my fears about saving for retirement down in that old tattered notebook.
And I wrote about my longing to be a stay-at-home mom… years before I was able to become one. We had just built our dream home, acquired a car loan, had a baby, and were working on kid number 2. There was an endless stream of things we needed for the house and and for our son. It seemed like every time we got a little bit ahead, there would be another bill in the mailbox. My job always seemed to get in the way of all my money-saving strategies – like making baby food and line-drying my clothes. There just never seemed to be enough time in the day.
My entries from this point in my life, really illustrate the internal struggle I had with making the decision to become a stay-at-home mom. I loved my job as an academic adviser at a community college. And I loved my son. Every day I felt so completely torn.
“I wish I could have my cake and eat it too,” I wrote in 2006. “To have financial security, the feeling of self-worth I get from my job, and to spend time raising our adorable son. I want it all! But sometimes life doesn’t always work that way, I guess.”
And then something happened that changed everything. The “Let’s have another baby” plan turned into, “We’re having twins” plan.
The decision to become a stay-at-home mom became much easier now that we were about to embark on a wild parenting adventure that involved having three children under the age of 2. Three children in diapers. The cost of day care would have eaten up almost my entire paycheck (the part of my paycheck that didn’t go to pay taxes or gas to get to work). It made much more financial sense for me to stay home with our children.
And while the decision to be a SAHM became easier, figuring out how to live on one income was really hard.
But I also found great joy and pride in being able to be home for my children, to be an advocate for them, and to create a loving home for my husband to come home to each day.
And it turns out I never really quit working. I thought I was quitting my job when I left the college where I worked in 2007, but I was actually just taking a different one, writing for Northern Cheapskate.
The money-saving strategies I had written in that old notebook guided me on my journey to single-income living and became the framework for Northern Cheapskate.
In those early days of the blog, I wrote to keep myself on task. I wrote to document the lessons I’d learned as I clipped coupons and pinched pennies.
I wrote because I felt so very isolated and different from other people I knew.
But you came to visit and shared your comments. And you told your friends. And they told their friends. And with your help, Northern Cheapskate grew into something bigger (and better) than just me and my little ramblings about money.
Thanks to you, I feel like it has been finally possible for me to “have my cake and eat it, too.” I am so very grateful for your friendship and support over these past four years.
So when you feel like your finances are out of control and your plate is too full of responsibilities, please remember my little notebook.
That 10-cent notebook filled with little money-saving ideas became this amazing network of people at Northern Cheapskate who are interested in living a frugal life. That little notebook is proof that the little things you do each day to save money and to make your life better add up to big things.
Life may not always play out like you planned. And it may take years to accomplish your dream, but if what you want is important to you, you will find a way. Grab a cheap old notebook, and start writing your thoughts down. Getting those ideas down on paper, could be just the push you need. It was for me.