Suddenly Frugal By Necessity, Not By Choice

Upon hearing that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago, both of us found ourselves surprised by our own relief.  Obviously for many families losing a job can be tremendously stressful—especially with young children involved.  In fact, if my husband would have been laid off a few months later we would have been in serious trouble.  By that point I would have signed a half time teaching contract for next year which wouldn’t have been enough income to support our family.  Thank goodness I still have the option to teach full time next year and we have enough of an emergency fund to ease us through the summer. 

We know there will be financial sacrifices with my husband staying home to care for our kids, but for the last three years we have embraced the adventurous life of voluntary simplicity.  In the past, we didn’t need to shop at thrift stores, give home haircuts, or make our own cleaning supplies, but we enjoyed the challenge and delighted in the fact that we were helping the planet and beefing up our savings account. Every month we dutifully deposited money in our emergency fund, thinking we wouldn’t need it anytime soon. 

The down side of all of that working and saving was that we always felt harried.  We spent weekends catching up on family time and chores. When our son would get ill, we had to cobble together daycare coverage using our sick leave with occasional help from friends and family.  There wasn’t any flexibility in our schedules and we felt overwhelmed by the pace of our life—especially since our second child is due in just a few weeks. 

Now that my husband is an official “domestic engineer,” I don’t have to rush home from work to cook a meal while trying to spend quality time with my son.  Instead when I arrive on our doorstep, dinner is in the oven and my family is completely relaxed.  I’m also amazed by how much the bond between my son and my husband has grown over just a few weeks.  Here they are enjoying swimming lessons together–something that never would have fit into our work schedules before.

Over the summer we’ll have to be careful with our budget, but next school year (which starts in September) we’ll actually be better off financially with me working full time and my husband staying home.  When we sat down and crunched numbers it occurred to us that the savings in taxes and childcare are impressive.  What a thrill to be able to have more family time and save money too!  

So, my official Thrifty Green Thursday tip is to set up your emergency savings fund!  Even if you can only sock small amounts of money away each month, it’s worth it to know that you’ll have a bit of padding in these rough financial times.  It’s amazing how powerful that saving momentum can be once you start trimming here and there and seeing your balance inching up.   Since we believe going green truly involves simplifying, buying less, and buying used, you really can go green and set some green aside in case of a rainy day.  

We would love to have you join us with your tips on saving money and the planet.  Just be sure to add a link on your post that directs readers back to this post.  That way they’ll have the chance to explore everyone’s tips.  For directions on where to begin, just click here.  Thanks for joining us this week for Thrifty Green Thursday! 


  1. When we discovered I was pregnant, we knew our lives were about to change dramatically. It was very important to us that our child not be put into daycare, so we made arrangements that benefit not only our family and finances, but also the environment. We moved to a smaller apartment that is on the train line to my husband’s work. This allowed us to get rid of one car. Now my husband takes the train everyday..saving on gas and pollution. There are many days when our car never leaves it’s spot. The small apartment is also energy efficient and doesn’t cost much to heat and cool. Now that I’m a stay at home mom I have plenty of time to make my husband’s morning coffee (which he takes in a thermos) and lunch for work, as well as dinner. Sounds cheesy, but it’s fun and saves us a ton of money and we are closer as a family because of it.

  2. Sounds good. Great that you are savvy enough to make these changes

  3. Am loving your attitude to this situation – for many it would be a crisis, but this is where good planning and resourcefulness come in.

    My link today is such a simple and effective tip and it starts saving you money right away. I hope you like it!

    I love that both you, and Jaime feel closer as a family because of your lifestyle changes – that has to be win-win 🙂

  4. i’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s job loss, but am relieved to hear you were ready for it financially. We’ve just finished paying off our credit cards–yeah!–and now can start saving in earnest.

    My tip for the week highlights a web site that says which fish are safe to eat.

  5. Thanks for the reminder, Joy! I used to be so good about saving money, but lately I’ve been very lax. I recently had my roommate move out, and the rent money she used to give me is no longer coming in. I decided to live without a roommate for a while, but it’s going to involve some frugal changes. This would have been easier with a bigger emergency fund! Now I not only have to pay my mortgage and bills on my own, but I also have to sock more away.

  6. It’s amazing how what seems like a devastating event can actually be a huge blessing. When my husband unexpectedly was laid off about 4 years ago it was the best thing that had happened to our family since our oldest was born. The high stress level at his job was hurting our family life so when he stayed home with our daughter things were much happier at home. The also had a wonderful time bonding. To this day they are extremely close. After 6 months at home he decided to go back to work. BUT, it was his choice not a forced financial decision.

    It sounds like your family is going to feel the wonderful benefits we did. Congrats on making the right decisions so that your family can prosper!

  7. Congratulations on being prepared enough to weather the changes in your lives! I agree that the stress of my husband’s work made an impact on our home life, but so does the stress of not having enough to make ends meet. Unfortunately, it’s so true for many people.

    I don’t have a post specifically for TGT this week – work has been incredibly intense lately, and I’m worn out by the time I’m home. But at least my husband is there with the kids – one less thing to worry about at the end of the day.

  8. Sometimes external forces have to force us to see a more blessed way of living. I believe that most believe would be amazed at what they are capable of accomplishing it they just put their mind on the right path. Happiness does not come from any of the outside sources but definitely can be taken away by them. Always remember how blessed this transition was for you and continue to look for beneficial changes in the future.

    Our first child is 7 months old. I am working part time running my parents vet clinic. However, even this became too daunting in order to prioritize my family so I went out and found a buyer for the clinic. So many blessings are coming from it that I can’t even explain, most of which are for my parents and staff!!!!

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