Money and What Does It Mean to be Normal?

Playing Guess Who with my family

Playing Guess Who with my family

I’m feeling a bit bruised today. I feel as if this month, or more precisely these last few months, have been a real battle, mostly about money. It’s easy for money not to be an issue when you have enough.

Hubbie and I have fought hard to arrange our lives so that money isn’t an issue. We’ve made many choices that have put lifestyle over income and possessions. But some things, like Christmas, or birthdays, bedroom furniture and children’s parties, all fall under lifestyle rather than unnecessary expense.

And that’s fine and as it should be.

But when they all come at once, along with some other sources of income not happening when they should, it all leads to stress. And the biggest stress for me is that I don’t earn anything. For all the rationalisation that hubbie couldn’t do his job if I didn’t look after the house and kids, I still hate spending ‘his’ money.

I knew writing was not the lucrative financial choice. I used to make more in a day contracting than I made all last year selling books. And that’s okay. Right up to the point where I want to spend money on something other food and fuel and don’t feel like I can.

Concentrating hard!

Concentrating hard!

I don’t want to give up writing, but I know hubbie is tired of me crying all time because I’m worried about money, because I feel worthless without an income. And I worry I’m risking friendships because I don’t want to spend money on a day out, night out, weekend away or other expensive thing. One short contract would make it all easier. I could pay for my daughter’s party, new bed and bike, and still have enough left over to proofread my next manuscript.

But I can’t even think where to start. Now my daughter’s at school I’d have to arrange childcare before and after school. Not to mention having to buy a whole new wardrobe of suits in my post-baby body size. And then I’d have to convince one of my old contacts that I still know anything about insurance and/or marketing. After five years out, I probably don’t. It’s a fast moving industry – new regulations, new channels; five years ago social media barely existed.

Even if I did find something, it wouldn’t be on my former salary. I’d probably not actually bring in much extra money, after we’d paid for childcare, not to mention the extra pressure on the family if mummy wasn’t at home cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing. There’s a meme going around facebook that says:

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you’re still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it ~ Ellen Goodman

Craziness. Do I really need to put my children in childcare and put us all under stress just so I can feel I have my own money to spend? Instead of doing what I love – walking the dog, taking care of my family and writing novels? Having time to play board games and cook dinner, with time over to learn how to bake cakes? Put like that it’s all a bit silly. But still, earning a few hundred pounds a month might be nice!

16 thoughts on “Money and What Does It Mean to be Normal?

  1. I can’t tell you how to make your decision, but I can tell you my take…

    Currently I am doing both writing and working. It’s extremely hard, but my a twist of fate I was the one who ended up getting the well-paying job out West, so my husband is the one staying home with the baby.

    I can tell you that when this arrangement first began my husband hated it. He felt like a bum not bringing any income to the family. But slowly and surely he got used to it because the truth is that he is good at being a stay-at-home-dad, and he knows that if he were to get a job he would end up losing most of his pay in child care anyway.

    I can tell you that I’m the type of person, like you, who stresses out about money and doesn’t feel right about spending money that she hasn’t technically earned.

    Finally, I can tell you that if the opportunity arose, I would love to be the one staying at home with the kid while my husband works for both of us. Yes I’d be stressed about money, for sure, but personally, for me, being able to raise my daughter full time while also concentrating on my writing would be a dream for me.

    But that’s just me. 🙂

    Good luck working it all out!

    • Thank you for reminding me the important part: that I am extremely lucky to have the chance to spend time with my children. Even though my eldest is at school and my youngest goes to childcare three days a week, I know I get to spend a lot more time with them than I would if I was working in a ‘proper’ job (ie one that paid wages!). We have a good balance and I love being able to take my daughter to the library after school to do her homework, or to the coffee shop for tea. Sometimes it’s just about remembering that I don’t get to put my own needs first all the time, and that’s okay.

  2. My husband and I don’t have children yet, but this is something I worry about for our future – childcare is so expensive, I worry that we’ll be working just to pay for the daycare! Is there a part-time job where you could work while your daughter is at school and still be home to get her off the bus? It is frustrating that making a living as a writer is so difficult.
    Best of luck to you!

    • Thank you. Yes, I would never have considered the cost of childcare before I had children: it wasn’t a huge issue in the beginning because I didn’t have a job to return to anyway (having quit to go self-employed). With hindsight, perhaps staying in my job to get maternity leave and a guaranteed part time role would have been the sensible option! I don’t regret my choices though. And there are other more affordable childcare options, like a nanny or childminder, that I haven’t pursued because I like the nursery environment. It is challenging though, and there are no easy answers. I think it helps to consider the options before having children (as long as it doesn’t put you off!)

  3. I understand as completely as someone who isn’t in you head with you can. It sucks to think about every single thing I buy. It sucks to borrow money from my husband to buy his birthday presents. However I am getting more used to it. Have you thought of trying copywriting. I used to get the odd commission from a web services bunch. It was only a few quid every now and again but it did make a huge difference.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • Funnily enough I have been looking into copywriting, but it doesn’t seem straightforward to get into. The usual ‘need experience to get experience’ problem. I’m not sure what I’m qualified to write about, apart from being a stay-at-home-mum / writer and there are plenty of those! I will keep looking though because I love researching articles and writing reports and things. It would need to pay more than £20 an article (the rates I’ve seen) for it to be worth the time it would take away from other things, though. In the end, that’s usually what holds me back from getting a part time job: I might not make a fortune writing my books, but I won’t make anything if I don’t write them and it’s hard to justify sacrificing that time for the minimum wage!

    • And yes, I do agree that it’s worth it to be able to take care of the house and pick the children up from school. I’m feeling guilty at the moment at how much childcare my son does (we had to add an extra morning to keep his summer forest school place open and 3.5 days a week is too much) but it’s hard to strike a balance. I’m a better parent if we have good chunks of time apart! 🙂

  4. I feel your pain – as a fledgling full-time writer I know it’s taking time to build up the work. It’s coming in now but it’s taken months to build up and will take another year at least before I’m making a sustainable income. Books are never going to be the money-spinners though (unless you’re lucky and get picked up by a fairly major publishing house!). But you should be able to build up an income better than 20 quid a piece – maybe you need to look at different markets?

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