Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.

Quick notes on the value of a village and the value of a housewife.

The value of the village, of real community support where you can easily have someone come over is 100k per year.

The articles from years and years back about how a housewife’s labor is worth 250k a year missed the real implication, which is that the *husband* would need to make that much to cover all the value-adds this platonic-ideal housewife was providing.    But then, that is dangerously close to the actual situation with SAHMing in many married households.

Related to something else, instead of the poor choices of long commutes or telecommutopia or “no really if we keep spending billions on light rail everyone will take it to their green jobs”, we could have satellite offices for many desk-type jobs and make the 400k vice presidents actually earn that money making the rounds weekly or monthly to touch base.  It “splits the difference” with commuting by slashing it in many industries but also keeps local money more local because a lot of the “oh they’ll just buy everything with amazon” is from being exhausted from hours of driving. Cut that by 75% and you can have real stores and get better quality even without major price increase, since there’s been a race to the bottom with shipping costs and delivery of consumer goods.

Ultimately tens of millions of people are being shoved around by the whims of a few hundred thousand, and that is changeable.  Extremely so.