I'm a "negative earner"
I've been out of the workforce since April 7th, 2006, or thereabouts. That was the day I hung my shitty-job-hat and put on my do-what-you-love rose-colored glasses. It's been incredible every day since.
The big drawback to this life decision has been, of course, that I don't earn us money. At the time, Anthony and I were making nearly the same. I think he made a little more than me, but with his very thoughtful and responsible withholdings our take home was equal. When we went house-hunting, we were sure to buy a house that we could afford on his salary alone at that pay rate. Luckily, since then, he's been kicking ass and taking names and getting regular pay-raises so we've been getting more wiggle room.
What have I been doing for our financial well-being? Well, I do the finances and figure out what we can spend each week. I do projections for future savings, bill pay-offs, taxes, etc. But I also spend our money. Anthony virtually starves himself from our bank account. He'll splurge on a new motorcycle thingamabob, but only he calls it a "splurge." I mean, isn't that widget for the wheel essential??
I, on the other hand, am a negative earner. By this I mean that I don't bring money in, but I save us money on what we spend. For instance, I buy all the groceries. I also buy gifts for friends and family, clothes for all of us, and various odds and ends for the house. I research almost every purchase over $40 that I make, but I'm still making a purchase in the end. I try to save as much as possible, so in the end, maybe I'm earning about -$500 a month.
I also have put myself on a grocery budget diet. Last year, we roughly spent $600-$800 a month on food. A good 80% of that was groceries, and the rest was eating out (eating out includes delivery in my house). I challenged myself to a $100 a week grocery budget. I have found that I go over by about $50, but there's something really rewarding about stopping by the bank on a Saturday morning to withdraw $100 and then head over to the farmers' market to get my week's supply of produce. - And don't worry, I don't spend $100 at the farmers' market! It's usually about $20-$30 and the rest I spend at WholeFoods or HEB.- So I've cut back our grocery spending by about a third. That's -$200. And we rarely eat out or have delivery. So that's another $-100.
I've been really thinking about all of this these past few months, now that I'm out of school. Staying at home with an infant is hard work, but most days it doesn't feel like it. Because it's rewarding, creative and fun I feel like I'm not doing anything. Of course, this is clearly ridiculous. I know plenty of contemporaries that have told me that they could never stay home with their babies and much prefer having them in day care while they "go to work." To that end, I provide day care for myself and Anthony. That's a whopping -$1000/month.
Oh wait! I do have money coming in a little bit. I've discovered Craigslist and regularly post things to sell. I make the random $50 here and $5 there. - I once drove about 37 miles round trip to drop off a pair of cowboy boots to a woman who bought them for $5. Clearly, I didn't think that one through. - I have some things posted now, for instance. I feel so good when I make a buck! I wish I had more to sell. So, there's some positive numbers for me, too!: $25 a month on average, I'd say.
I feel good thinking about my life this way. It's so freaking hard when people ask me, "Are you working??" to which I respond, "No, I stay at home with my baby," because I k now they mean, "Are you earning money?" What the hell?! Some people say, "Oh that is work!" while most others blithely go on about the conversation. I need to reframe my answers and say, "YES, I stay at home with my baby," and maybe it will help to start changing the way we think about work.
In any case, it looks like my monthly negative earnings are approximately -$1800 a month! Woot! Hell, that's pretty damn good if you ask me!