Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday forte! the frugal edition

new beret, originally uploaded by ebbandflo_pomomama.
Despite the new ravishable hairstyle and self-propelled makeover I'm still obsessing majorly over my complete lack of status in this modern materialistic world of ours, where net worth is based around the size of the pay cheque. Do I really contribute nada to the family income?

Let's take a little look .....

According to Raj Patel's book, "The Value of Nothing" the unpaid work in the world amounts to the grand total of 16 trillion dollars in unpaid salary cheques! It will come as no surprise that this massive effort is mostly bankrolled by women who are not paid for the bulk of childcare, reproduction, homemaking and civic work which makes the world go round. How do I contribute?

I am neither a starfleet commander nor clever with extreme financial politics but I do know how much it would cost, on a very basic level, to replace me in the home.
In other words, how much does my frugal-ness contribute to the family income by leaving the cash in the bank (and we're being very frugal here right now ever since our spanking brilliant new floor was installed, thus eating up some of our savings)? It's an exercise I've run thru in my head ever since my father-in-law asked the dreaded question, "So what are you doing with your time these days, Amanda?" regarding my new immigrant-ish just followed the spouse on HIS relocation unemployed status.

Well, I am a SAHM (say it loud, say it proud cos no one else has a fucking clue). In translation I am never far from the homestead if my family needs me. Thus I take care of the childcare (five afternoons of after school care at $150 per week, lordy knows how much at the weekend), the housework (I'm guessing at $100 per visit every two weeks) and a full home-cooked meal service (priceless apparently from the looks on faces at the dining table most evenings) usually from scratch.

So far I've "saved" about $800 CAD per month.

I also do all the grocery shopping in person (no delivery service though I have used one when I was too sick to move). I ferry the Wee Guy to his piano, swimming and skating lessons. I pay our bills and deal with household admin myself.

I maintain our major investment ie. our house, trying to keep it looking good to realise its maximum re-sale potential. This week I stripped down, olied and replaced the sticky lock on our front door, thus saving the pricey visit from a locksmith when we got locked out.

I clip coupons for our necessities and shop around for AirMiles deals (saved approximately $15 this month alone). I scuttle around our banking accounts to pay off credit card bills promptly without incurring interest (you would not believe the amounts of interest we were paying during the brief financial holiday I took leaving my DH in sole charge - turns pale at the memory). I source stuff we need from thrift stores and Freecycle. I don't heat the house when it's just me at home. I mend. I make. I improvise. In short I am frugal with the money I don't earn.

But what do I cost my family to have me with them? Well, I get a haircut every 6-8 weeks ($55), and I need clothes every so often (thrift or Value Village mostly). I eat (not too much) and I like chocolate (in moderation) and I need a roof over my head. Wine is nice sometimes, I have no expensive eating out habits (since that comes from the household budget and is thus subject to my frugal-ness). I drive the car but then again, I save on taxi fares. I don't haunt the spa and wait a minute! my craft business pays for all my treats, gifts and sundries anyway.

By my extremely conservative estimates I am at least stopping an extra $1000 CAD from leaving the family coffers each month and in return I am 'paid' my board and lodgings. So should my annual salary be $12000 CAD or the $135,519 I calculated on that old chestnut, the Mom Salary Wizard?

Heck, I contribute majorly! (and I'm proud)....

PS: BTW, I don't think my husband is anymore paid for being a dad going out to earn the family's bread and butter than I am for being a SAHM, it's just that his name is on the pay cheque and he doesn't get the vacant looks when asked by a salaried member of the human race what he does. IMHO (ok not so humble, more rant-y) we both should be paid an allowance from the household income for what we do to support the family.

More Friday Forte posts here


Anonymous said...

Amen on the contributions!

I don't expect to be paid for the work I do in the home exactly, but I do think it should be more highly valued. I'm not sure what the answer is on that, but when you're holding together a family you're really doing SOMETHING. Having an allowance is a good start.

Bex said...

What's stopping you paying yourself an alowance from the household income?

pomomama said...

Oh the wacky mom salary wizard!! but you're right. Globally motherhood, raising a family and staying at home to manage the household does need to be more recognised. I was amazed at the calculations on unpaid labour which keeps the world afloat but not surprised it is 'bankrolled' by women on the whole. I feel highly recognised and valued at home (which is really where it matters most) but I do simmer at the global under-recognition. Little steps ....
An allowance is definitely the way forward, in fact it's something I negotiated when I moved to Canada and became unemployed/unsalaried. I recognised that I needed to feel some degree of financial freedom and didn't want to become one of those women who have to ask their husbands before any spend. However, I am also in charge of the household budget and I can see when we cannot afford it (christmas, credit card bills, home improvements, summer camps, and so on) so rather than incur interest charges on borrowing I voluntarily choose not to take my allowance that month. Also in Canada, EI, PAYE etc deductions are not withdrawn throughout the year on certain salary scales so for approx 6 months our budget is reduced. I usually do not get 'paid' in those months (again voluntarily). Luckily I have 'other' income (yes, from pomo mama design!)

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