Tag Archives: suburbs

The Price of Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Seeing this headline, you’re probably thinking this post will be about how you lose one full salary by staying at home, or perhaps what you’re giving up of yourself to raise your children. Not even close. This is about much more money I think I spend because I stay home.

When I was working, I certainly spent money while on the clock. Online shopping, Starbucks runs, liquid lunches, happy hours (actually sounds kind of fun!). You working people know the drill. Once I traded in my paycheck to raise my kid, I figured I’d budget and probably be spending less given the fact that there wasn’t much to do during the day while running after a little one. Fast forward to almost three years later at this SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) gig and I probably spend more money every day than I did when I was working. Hear me out…

My daughter goes to a preschool program so I have about two hours to myself a day. In this time, I usually go to the gym and run errands that are easier to do without a small child in tow. There’s always a shit ton to do, not to mention the few times I decide to treat myself to a tea or pedicure. ShopRite, Target, Starbucks, CVS, dry cleaners. The list is endless, especially when holidays and birthdays roll around. And sometimes it’s just nice to get out and break up the monotony whether I’m alone or with my little one.

After my two hours are up, I pick up my daughter and more money goes out the window. We’re pretty resourceful and don’t often treat ourselves to lunches out or fancy mall shopping sprees, but we are superfans of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. My child eats munchkins and chocolate milk, so added to my $5 chai tea latte or ice tea, this all adds up throughout the week. But I am oblivious most times, because I just reload my DD or Starbucks app and it’s like the money just magically appeared for me to fuel up. Then we run some errands, let’s say I didn’t get to Target while she was in school, so we go together. My kid wants everything. And when I say no and she melts down, sometimes the $7 stuffed Minion is worth it to avoid me losing my mind and her losing her shit even more. But how many $7 Minions and other crap do I purchase to either appease her or simply because it puts the biggest smile on her face? It all adds up.

I guess with the holidays, and the amount of trips to Starbucks and Dunkin’ I have recently made, it’s become a little more apparent to me that my spending habits have changed, and possibly increased a little, sans paycheck, even though I’m just trolling the ‘burbs versus gallivanting though the pricey city. Who knew staying home could cost so much (insert deep thought, quote or mantra here)?

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Let’s Cook!

I was never much of a cook. Growing up, my mom didn’t cook very much. She made things like Stouffer’s lasagna or Mrs. Budd’s chicken pot pies. When she did make a homemade meal, she hit it out of the park. Appetizers and holiday cooking like Thanksgiving and Passover were her specialities and still are today.

My husband also loved to cook. When we lived in Hoboken, he loved to whip up new and exciting meals like stuffed peppers or bolognese while I made things like spaghetti or turkey burgers. Our roles have since changed.

When I lost my job a few years back, I started to get into cooking. When I wasn’t job hunting or interviewing, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. While Eric worked, I needed an outlet. So I started to cook. I thought it would be nice for him to have something to come home to. Plus, I felt like I did something; it somehow justified me being home all day and not working.

When I reentered the job force, I still tried to cook. Unfortunatey, I just didn’t have the same kind of time to devote to my new hobby. After working all day in the city, commuting and then getting in a run or workout, cooking was the last thing I wanted to do. Besides, living in Hoboken, there were so many great restaurants and eateries to enjoy, it was so much easier to say, “Lets eat out tonight!”

Fast forward to mommyhood and my life in suburbs and I have found a new love for cooking. At first, I was somewhat intimated, like when I wanted to try to make a cookie cake for Eric for Father’s Day. He loved it when a girlfriend of mine made it so I faced my fear, gave it a try and found surprising success. Pintrest has become a good friend of mine as I look to create new and exciting dishes for our family like a chicken, artichoke and spinach pasta bake; balsamic chicken; homemade banana bread; or lasagna roll ups.

Believe it or not, cooking somewhat relaxes me. I feel creative. Staying home, I don’t always feel like that, especially after a successful career in public relations where I was constantly coming up with new ideas and initiatives seen all across the world. Cooking has filled a little bit of that void for the time being. While my daughter sleeps and I have some extra time in between cleaning, paying bills and catching up on “The Real Housewives,” I’ve found something new to be excited and proud of again.

Don’t You Want My Business?

I’ve been living in the suburbs almost two years and one of the things I’ve learned is that there is always something to do, fix or decorate.  While my husband and I try to do some of these things on our own, there are many times we need to call in a professional to help.

When we moved into our home in the summer of 2011, we joined Angie’s List hoping it would help us find reputable, reliable contractors. That year, we received a handful of estimates from the many workers we reached out to. This year, it’s been like pulling teeth to get people to complete an estimate.

In the last two months, we have had nearly seven contractors come to our home for various projects we’re thinking of executing. I’ve waited at home during the day for them to show up or my husband meets with them on a weekend. We take time out of our day as they do theirs. However, with at least five of these contractors, we have had to reach out to them repeatedly to get the estimate they promised to send us “in just a few days.”

One construction company never sent an estimate. We followed up a week later and they never responded. We waited another week before calling back and finally got the estimate the following day, but with one of the projects missing. When we called and emailed them, they simply ignored us. A landscaper failed to send us an estimate after two full weeks. After numerous follow ups, we finally received the document but had some additional questions; we got no response to any of them until three weeks later (after we reached out to check in…again). Believe it or not, this happened with a lot of the contractors we tried to work with which was beyond frustrating.

For an economy we hear is still in the toilet, you’d think people would want this type of business. My husband and I are surprised by the lack of service we have received, especially since we chose to work with contractors recommended through Angie’s List. I asked one of the contractors who came by (who actually provided us an estimate in a timely manner) why we were experiencing this from people we hoped to hire. He told me contractors are good at their job but horrible at following up, providing estimates and dealing with administrative tasks. He said when they have a staff to do this, you usually get better service, but when it’s just them and the few guys who work for them, you shouldn’t be surprised having to back pedal for estimates and get answers to your questions. Seriously?

Needless to say, if you know a reliable contractor who is looking for work in New Jersey, we’re still looking!