Q&A: Money is tight and the stress is hurting my family. What can I do?

Living-Life-at-Home.com Q&A

Many families, including our own, have struggled or are struggling with the awful Debt Monster, and with the natual consequences of having more bills than money. Debt is a area of personal struggle for us; one that God’s grace continues to see us through. If there’s one thing I know for certain it is that God’s provision is amazing.

So, on that note, here’s a real question (slightly edited to protect the family’s identity) with my response. I share it here to give encouragement to anyone else who may be going through a similar situation. If you have a testimony of God’s amazing provision, please blog about it and/or share it in the comments section. The more we can encourage each other and build each other’s faith, the better.

Question:

As our finances seem to keep getting tighter and tighter and dh’s stress level as sole-breadwinner is getting higher and higher, I needto start contributing to the family budget more than just sporadically. Dh believes that the only solution to this is to put the kids in public school/daycare and I go back to work full-time, as he’s on call 24/7 (so a part-time job on nights and weekends is out of the question). However, I know in my very soul that the commitment we made to homeschool our kids was one that God led us to.

I’m not very good at selling things so the whole party-plan business scene is out, plus we don’t have any start-up money for that kind of thing anyway. But I know that there’s got to be something I can do to bring in a little extra and take a little pressure off of him while still honoring the commitment we made to the kids. Help?! Are there any homeschooling-mom-friendly occupations out there or something I’m missing? I really need to come up with some options quickly, before this causes any more stress on him and on our marriage and family.

Response:

I’ve prayed a great deal about your situation and about responding, as my advice may be different than what others have said or what you may want to hear, but here goes. Know that we are praying for you and your situation and that God has a plan for you and your family. You may not know what it is yet, but his timing is perfect and you will be stronger for it in the end… I know it may not be consolation now, but believe me.. all you need is the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6)

First, I have learned from experience that it is very important that you make a serious attempt to look into what your husband has proposed. It may not be the best option for your family, but for your marriage and your relationship and for your husband, it is important to give merit and time and energy to figuring out if putting the kids in daycare/public school and taking an outside job is a viable choice for your family. As others have mentioned, once you figure out the finances it may cause a negative cash flow for your family or you may be working just to pay for the experience of working. But for others, it may help. I’ve had to make these types of decisions and had to give up for a while my dream of being at home with my kids, because I could earn more out in the workplace, as a family it was a challenging time, but it also led to my ability to work at home and be at home and homeschool, so I know that good came from it all.

Start with taking a look at your own budget and figure out exactly what how much you family needs to increase income by. (I’m assuming you’ve already cut everything you can cut. For us Internet is necessity, my husband and I can’t work without it. If you continue with eBay as a source of income you will need that too. And sometimes, there’s just nothing else to cut, and that’s okay.) You need that number in order to make reasonable decisions as to what is possible for your family…

Then, take into consideration what all the expenses are going to be for you to return to an outside job, including child care, meals for the kids, meals for you, participating in “Office” potlucks/activities, commute(gas/toll), extra convenience meals at home because you are too tired to cook, dry cleaning, new “work” clothes you may need, sick child care (when the kids are sick and you have to work), all those things that will either increase from your current situation or will be added. And compare that to what you will be earning or your earning capacity. I recommend putting this in a spreadsheet or writing it out on a ledger and talking with your husband about what you may have missed, what may not be a factor, and counsel with him. It is really important from a marriage/relationship standpoint that you, with a good attitude, try to see if this is going to work. (Believe me, fights from not giving credence to your husbands’ solution are not fun.)

Here’s a few online calculators that will help with this:

http://http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/calcs/n_spwk/main.asp

http://http://homeparents.about.com/library/weekly/blworkcalc.htm

http://http://www.mymommybiz.com/adviceandresources/momsincome.html

Pray over the results, pray knowing that God has a solution and ask for guidance and the ability to obey his will. Be very cautious about praying for solutions you think are the right ones… Instead trust in God that he has a plan and pray for willingness to be obedient to him. (Believe me sometimes he’ll give you what you ask for, and it turns out more to be a character building experience than the right solution.) God is very creative. You’ll be amazed at what solutions He can come up with when you let him.

Next start making a list of all the skills and interests/passions you have. Dream BIG… write out your ideal job description, write out what is on your heart and in your dreams of how you can help out your household finances and be a helpmate to your husband, and be the mother and wife God has called you to be. This is really important, because what you can visualize, you can achieve, if you are willing to follow God’s plan for you and your family. God has a plan for this situation, really. And HE is the one who puts those dreams, those opportunities in your way.

We have had desperate financial situations in the past (just finished one) and have not known where or how things were going work out. But they did. Amazing things would happen. A full-time job once opened up at my husband’s employer that wanted my exact skill set and was at the time my dream job, exactly at the time where we were desperate for me to be earning full-time income. When that job ended being cut during lay-offs, the day they were laying people off, a recruiter called and asked if they were laying off anyone with my exact skill set. I got that job immediately and within a year I was working part-time at home part-time in the office and the next year was working full-time at home … and now I still do work with that company, only with them as one of my clients. Everytime I have no idea where the work is going to come from or how I’m going to get it all done, or how I’m going to make expenses work with the money we have available, a solution appears in the PERFECT timing (not necessarily my timing, but HIS timing). The GLORY is always HIS. I have learned through all of our adventures that if I only trust in HIM and not try to steer my own ship, it will work out.

Now as far as your situation, I will remain in prayer for your family and for your specific situation. Write out your ideal job, even if that is staying at home with your kids and working from home. Be specific, and don’t think inside the box… step outside and follow the dreams/passions God has given you. He will find a way to make it work, one stepping stone at a time. Opportunities will appear.

If he wants to you to homeschool and work, He will create the scenario for you do so. But if God asks you to put aside homeschooling for a short time, you need to be willing to follow that calling as well. Believe me, I cried many tears letting go of my will to follow God’s …especially everytime I had to turn my kids over to day care. But I also became more willing to do the hard things so that I wouldn’t need to do that for very long. He has a plan, and it sometimes isn’t the method we would have thought of or preferred.

Here’s a brief listing of “jobs” people I know who homeschool and work do: writing, photography, editing, desktop publishing, graphic design, accounting, analysis, research, transcription, sewing, sales, computer programming, online training, consulting, cleaning, internet marketing, eBay sales, day care … the list can go on. I also know of nurses, attorneys, farmers, business owners, etc. that homeschool and work. Your solution could be somewhere in this, or it could be something else that fits who you are and what is right for your family.

Also, be aware that if God creates an opportunity for you that includes needing the “tools” like start-up supplies, or software, or whatever, He is also amazing in that he will help you with that too. Recently I was offered an opportunity but my computer wasn’t powerful enough and I didn’t have the expensive software needed. God provided the computer for FREE and the software, purchased at hugely reduced rate by my client, arrived in the mail today! He is AMAZING!

Remember, God PROMISES to provide your basic needs (Matthew 6:25-34, 1Kings 17:4,6, 1 Timothy 6:8, Philippians 4:19). You will not starve, you will not go without clothes, you will not go without shelter. It may not always be what you want, but you will have your basic needs provided for. (I’m always amazed what you can do with a little bit of flour J) Another area within this that I had to grow in, is to be willing to accept help. God may be using your situation to speak to others. This is a huge area I struggled with and still do at times. I don’t know your struggles, only God really knows what areas he is trying to grow you in… have faith and trust, especially when things are hard and all you can do is cry out to Him.

We’re praying for you and your family. Keep praying and trust… it will all work out.

…Shannon

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One Response to Q&A: Money is tight and the stress is hurting my family. What can I do?

  1. Marla says:

    What Shannon said was wonderful and well thought out. I hope the one who inquired sees this answer from Shannon. Don’t miss the last paragraph!

    I just wanted to add, as someone who has dealt with alternating wealth and poverty, that sometimes you need to look for ways to RESPOND rather than things to DO. As believers, we must be careful to watch our motives. Are we looking to alleviate what we consider God’s “lack” of provision? Are we wanting to get out from a situation He’s sent to grow us? (…like Shannon said in the last paragraph.) So, I recommend a response of prayer for His perspective. Ask Him to show you what you’re meant to learn. Ask Him to show you what you’re meant to allow Him to change. Ask Him to strengthen your faith and that of your family…especially your husband. Ask Him (most of all) for the PATIENCE to wait for His answer in His timing. Be prepared to hear unusual answers. One answer He’s given me in the midst of terrible economic downturns is “GIVE.”

    For example, God gave Isaac to Abraham and then required Abraham to sacrifice him and give Isaac back. When Abraham exhibited his willingness and commitment to obedience, God returned Isaac. Likewise, examine your attitude towards homeschooling. Do you do it because you don’t trust God with your children at public school? I’ve allowed that attitude to creep in, believe me. Ask forgiveness and express a willingness to forgo it and EVERYTHING that would undermine your faith in His provision. God will sometimes take away even good things in order that we may learn greater spiritual truths.

    Another aspect of giving is one I’m dealing with right now. In the midst of our financial difficulty, I collected the best things I have in order to sell them and buffer our accounts a bit. Then God said, “Don’t sell them. Give them away.” Ouch! It’s my good stuff! Well, that’s what we’re doing and while it feels good to give, we realize that God has clearly made us put our faith back in Him rather than on these earthly “treasures”. We’re left with very little as far as alternatives…we are FORCED to trust Him!

    The thing is, my children are watching, my husband is watching and their faith is growing. If we respond to their panic with panic of our own, they will believe that God is somehow not the Provider we know Him to be. They will think He is small and in need of help. We need our children to know that even in the midst of suffering, God is GREAT and we are in the middle of His will so long as we obey! Yes! We may be without furniture and eating rice and beans for months and that may be JUST what God wants for us to do…for whatever length of time He deigns! Look at the Israelites: slaving in the Egyptian desert one day and walking out of Egypt the next day dripping in jewels! God did it then and He does it now!

    God bless you!

    Marla

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