250k isn’t enough, or why not even other right wing women want my SAHM lifestyle.

This is a breakdown of exactly how expensive it is to live substituting money for the network of support common to healthy patriarchal societies.  In this example, I show where 250k in gross household income per year would go in attempting to provide enough support with cash instead of neighbors and relatives to get a SAHM with several children through the under-5 years with closely spaced pregnancies and breastfeeding.

25k– tithe

35k– modest PITI (Principal, Interest, property Taxes, homeowner’s Insurance) of 1.5-2x income after 20% down, not before

50k– household services (sitter or nanny, weekend/backup sitter, house cleaning 2-4x per month)

15k– food (local, often organic, directly purchased from farmers wherever possible, fair trade and single-source where not local).

50k– federal income and social insurance taxes (approximate, tax treatment varies wildly from state to state)

10k– gas, commute and auto maintenance expenses (not including car insurance)

5k– car insurance, life insurance, disability insurance

15k– reserve or expenses for home maintenance and improvements

10k– utilities (internet/cell, electric, water, sewer or septic maintenance, garbage, any other common utilities)

15k– HSA/health insurance/health care (annualized estimate)

20k– savings/float/reserve against unexpected/anything I missed

This totals to exactly 250k per year, and there things I missed.  And even with this much money substituting for human relationships and assistance, women at this level of household income who SAHM still face plenty of sleep deprivation and exhaustion and none of these expenses make up for the lack of other women and their children in groups to hang out with while going through household routines.

This is my life*, and nobody wants it.  And nobody wants to admit it takes this kind of money to even come close to setting up a private household with a SAHM in something resembling a traditional way.  Despite the full time help wrangling my very active children and the friendly couple that clean weekly, I’m still exhausted and have trouble gaining/maintaining weight when I need it for pregnancies and breastfeeding.  And I always feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of household work to do that isn’t the canonical cooking and cleaning and childcare because I don’t do a lot of that day to day and *there’s still a lot of other housework to do*.

But I am not envied by other SAHMs because they think any childcare that isn’t mom 24/7/365 is “leaving your children to be raised by wolves, er, I mean other women”.  And having a house cleaner deep clean is just showing how I fail housewiving 4eva by not being organized enough to clean perfectly around squalling toddlers flinging rice in every direction because mommy’s ignoring them (sorry, lovingly caring for them in a way utterly superior in all possible ways to any relative or paid provider’s child minding) to scour the sink just right.

I am not envied by working mothers because holding any wage job outside the home (no matter how low-paying) and putting the kids into daycare at 6 weeks old (or more commonly, paying some SAHM whose household income is closer to 25k/yr 20-40 bucks a day under the table for childcare) means they are financial contributors to their household and I am not, so I am to be pitied and despised for being such a drain on my husband with my very existence.

And that’s the right-wing, conservative Christian side of the aisle.

*The exact household income and expense list in this example isn’t our literal personal one as our household is more agrarian in orientation, but there are some broad similarities.


5 thoughts on “250k isn’t enough, or why not even other right wing women want my SAHM lifestyle.

  1. This is why most SAHM (like me) put their kids in preschool or hang out with their friends/relatives all the time. You need breaks.

    I have two neighbors with young children and we take turns watching the gaggle in the afternoons, so that the other two have time off to clean or run errands or take a nap. It’s a real godsend, in comparison to how I used to drag toddlers to my OB/GYN appointments or how they would subsist off cartoons and cheerios when I was ill.

    I used to be so depressed.


  2. This is my life*, and nobody wants it.

    I suspect there a few women who would love to play agrarian wife, but it’s decidedly unattractive to most women who seem to desire the faux lifestyles of the Real Housewives series. On the hand, it’s implied that those women have maids and such to help them out, yet they’re sorta hidden on the shows which does reflect some of the anti-help bias.

    Of course, the entire opportunity costs of raising children with or without maids just screams “don’t have children” to a sizable chunk of the population.

    But I am not envied by other SAHMs because they think any childcare that isn’t mom 24/7/365 is “leaving your children to be raised by wolves, er, I mean other women”

    A lot of them have their self-esteem wrapped up around the idea of being super mom. If they’re not super mom, then what is there left to brag about in their lives to other women?

    means they are financial contributors to their household and I am not

    In a vacuum with no other factors, then yes, those women aren’t leeches if they’re walking away with a profit. OTOH, it’s a far more complicated factor given that some men prefer their wives to be home and willingly entered their marriages knowing this, and other men have no qualms about eating junk if it means that there’s more money to spend on the annual vacation.


    • It’s leeching if you rely on other women to be paid below-market wages caring for your children to have anything resembling a “profit” on your $12/hr retail “career”.

      And no, nobody wants my life. It’s very expensive living if you don’t have an army of relatives right down the road (which I do not. we have some in the general metro area, but not in the same town.)


  3. Pingback: Poverty slumming and the devout Christian male’s failure to provide for a wife | The Practical Conservative

  4. I’ve seen article by Orthodox Jews adding up the costs and they come out around a quarter of a million annually, too.


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