It wasn’t just the tagline of her blog, “Home, the way it SHOULD be.” (Gag.) It wasn’t just the main content of her post. Which, for the record, was a wannabe-wistful diatribe on “What’s so wrong with NOT wanting to work?” Except that it came off as self-indulgent and whiny.
Before you all jump on me, I should mention that she wanted to not work even before she had kids. It just hit her all the more while pregnant. And she admitted in this “Why me, O Lord?” exercise to having “two-income sized debt.”
For the record, I really don’t have an opinion about whether women work after having kids. I think both are admirable.
Back to the piece. It was plaintive and narcissistic. By the end of the piece, Mom and I both were gritting our teeth. And I’m pretty sure I know the exact line that caused our jaw muscles to tense:
“If I can do it, anyone can.”
Bull (wait for it) SHIT.
Hey, good for her that she managed to get a successful/popular site going. Though I still cringe that she actually called it an “empire.”
I’m glad she found a solution that encompassed what she wanted (though arguably that was not to work at all, and most of us know that blogs ain’t easy!) and what was feasible for her family. I’m sure it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And, yes, I know it’s wrong that I’m really hoping the emphasis was on tears. I never claimed not to be bitchy.
But I am just sick unto death of people assuming that if they did it, anyone can. Are you actually pompous enough to believe that no one possibly has it worse or harder than you? Because, by setting yourself up as some shining beacon/glowing example, that’s exactly what you’re saying.
Tim and I had a much tighter budget than most personal finance bloggers. We never made $40,000, even when Tim was employed. Still, we managed to pay down around $40,000 of debt: $20,000 in student loans; $8,000 in oral surgery/dentures; $2,000 in moving expenses; and, of course, all the smaller unexpected bills that inevitably add up.
Impressive? I think so. And it’s my blog, so I can pat myself on the back if I want. (And if I’ve stretched.)
Would I dare to say that I’m proof anyone can do it? NO!
Tim and I had a lot of luck. First, we’re white and come from middle-class backgrounds. That confers privileges that we can’t begin to comprehend. It sucks, but these things do make a difference.
The biggest advantage, though, was my mom. For the two and a half years that Tim and I lived down the hall from her, we got free toothbrushes, body wash, face wash, deodorant and toilet paper. She’d also stop by and stock our cupboards with snacks she’d found on the cheap.
She helped keep our entertainment costs down by sending away for screening passes (something I’m never organized enough to do) and her infamous Coke Rewards machinations.
She also let us use the car whenever we needed it, making life significantly easier for lil ole chronic-fatigued me.
Most importantly, she GAVE US HER CAR when we moved down to Phoenix. That meant we didn’t have to finance one while also paying down debt.
I’m willing to bet the majority of people in debt don’t have a parent making all that effort on their behalf. I got very, very lucky.
Of course, our biggest disadvantage was health. It not only made it harder to work but caused more bills. Still, I count myself fortunate that we avoided other costly factors:
1. Location: Seattle wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t New York, Chicago or other major metropolises. There, everything is more expensive — from rent to groceries to paid parking.
2. Jobs: You may be stuck in a high unemployment area and can’t afford to move away. Or you can’t sell the house that’s keeping you there. Maybe you are tied to the area because you take care of family members — or because family members take care of you. (People don’t give enough weight to the importance of support networks.)
3. Religion: One of my regular readers keeps kosher. That’s a big expense. Many Christians don’t consider it an option to tithe, which means 10% of their income is spoken for.
4. Diet: Certain health conditions can wreck your grocery bill. Gluten-free diets are becoming more affordable, but they’re still not terribly cheap.
There are probably a lot more factors, but these are what I came up with. I’d love to hear more from you folks!
These are the kind of thing that no one considers until it happens to them. These are the things that prove that not everyone can do it. That our lack of success — by your definitions or on your timetable — don’t mean we’re lazy or wrong. They just mean we’re different.
And if we can be different, anyone can!