Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Years, No Job

We see the light at the end of the tunnel, the ribbon at the end of the race. In a little over a year we will have completed four years with no job (except for two stints of four weeks each).

If you're new here, I'll fill you in a bit. I stay home with our three children (and home school them) while my husband goes to school full time for pharmacy. In an effort to chronicle this period of our lives, I've decided to write about it here.

Jamey majored in biology in college. I studied social work. We married right after school and lived in a teeny little apartment for almost four years.

 Our first apartment, part of a large, old house.

 We could have afforded a better place a year after graduation when Jamey got a job in a lab and I was working as a clinical social worker at a psychiatric hospital for children. But, we didn't. We decided to stay put and pour our extra income into paying down school debt and (used) car loans.

After a few years of living in an apartment where mushrooms (literally, see above) grew out of the bathroom ceiling and where we had about 2 feet of changing space in our only bedroom (the bed took up almost the entire room), we had paid down our debts and set some money aside for a down payment on a house. We chose a new (surprise, surprise) townhouse.

Our first house

Prior to Sam coming along, we were living off of Jamey's salary and my (measly) social work salary was going into the bank. We lived this way for two reasons.  One, we wanted me to be able to stay home with our future children, so we thought it smart to do a test run. (I was going to stay home regardless.  Even if it meant selling our house and living in an apartment.) Also, we were saving.  We didn't really know what we were saving for, but we were careful with our money (no cable, a 14-inch TV, rarely ate out, etc.) Soon, Sam came along and I stopped working to stay home with him. As we looked forward to child number two, we decided we wanted to live where our kids could play in a yard and where we could grow a few (ha!) vegetables. We found and moved into the old house we're in now, having a nice down payment at the ready.

 Sam and baby Sadie

Sadie came along. I remained at home and Jamey continued at the lab. We kept saving. We fixed up our house, with Jamey doing the majority of the work himself even though we could have afforded to hire someone else to do all of it. We were saving. Even though we didn't know what for.

Then, Jamey had a revelation.

He didn't want to work in a lab, alone, for the rest of his working life. He wanted to go back to school. Full time.  For pharmacy. For four unpaid years. There was only one pharmacy program within driving distance of our house. It was the only school he applied to. Even though each year this school can only admit 85 students out of it's 1200+ yearly applicants, Jamey was accepted.  I knew he would be.  I'm supportive that way.

Just before he was about to give his notice at work, he was told his lab would be closed.  He was given a choice to relocate or to accept termination with a severance  package including six months of paid health insurance. The decision was easy in light of his school plans.  Boy, did we thank the Lord for that one. It was just one year between when he decided to pursue pharmacy school and when he started.

So, with our savings, applications in for student loans and a home equity line of credit (we applied for this prior to his job ending to use as a back up if student loans and our savings didn't cover all our expenses), Jamey started school.

We started growing much of our own food before he went back to school, but the budget crunch has shown us how valuable this option is. Each semester his student loan pays for his classes and enough living expenses for three months out of that four month semester (We're a family of five with no job- we think they feel sorry for us). Every fourth month, we pull money from savings to live on.

We still have no cable. Our 14-inch TV died a couple years ago and we decided not to replace it, but my sister and her husband kindly gave us one they were not using. We spend between $200-$250 on groceries each month. We don't go out to eat but maybe once every other month. Our only budget for entertainment is our monthly Netflix subscription. We generally do not take vacations, mostly day trips.

I just figured out our budget for the next year, the last one without a job. We're going to make it.  This did not happen by chance. When we sat down and figured all the numbers out before he applied to school, we knew we could make it/cut it close if we budgeted, which we did. The home equity loan? It looks like we won't have to touch it.

Were the past three years miserable? Certainly not. To be honest, I don't think we've lived that much differently than we had before and that is the lesson here for us. If we had stretched ourselves thinner financially earlier on, we wouldn't have had enough in savings to do this. Then where would Jamey be?

Still in the lab.

One day, I just know we are going to look back and wonder how we did it. We will be comfortable with a salary again and it will be hard to imagine. But I hope that when that time comes, we'll look back, read this post and be reminded that we were very happy.  And instead of getting too comfortable will busy ourselves by putting up or giving our extra money away. Pin It


  1. What a great story. Jumped over from Clover Lane. I can't wait to comb through your blog. Homeschool, food. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm visiting from Clover Lane too. What a wonderful example you are - I admire your convinction and patience. I was raised in a similar household and your attitude is what makes it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. What a powerful story with such determination and faith. I'm in awe of people who can sacrifice and make it work while so many of us will complain and say we can't do what we want.

    God is good!

  4. I just found you from Clover Lane. (Join the club, right?!) I loved reading your interview and so much of it resonated with me. You did a wonderful job of showing your heart and how your faith is central to the rest of your life. What an exciting journey you are on right now! And I'm sure it feels amazing to catch a glimpse of that light at the end of the tunnel. :)

  5. I'm visiting from Clover Lane. Love your story! I, too, homeschool my kids (for the past 13 years) and use the My Father's World with my youngest. I love to hear stories of families who sacrifice to stay home and raise their children!! Blessings!

  6. What an inspiring story!! Thanks for sharing. I admire your determination & frugalness.

  7. I think this is one of you best posts yet :) It's a good (great) story and I'm glad you went into detail about it. I think too many people say "I could never do that"... but you did... Awesome! Life is good.

  8. I just came over from Clover Lane too. It's so nice to meet like minded fellow believers. Your faith is wonderful to see. I will be back!

  9. Our last year was really rough financially...but Chris and I learned SO much and realized that we can be much better stewards of what God provides. And...we are stronger for it, too!

  10. Also found you through Clover Lane, your story and writing are inspiring! I grew up with a large garden, recently moved into a house with land, and I am excited to try my hand at growing and canning once we thaw out. Looking forward to reading your site and getting some great tips and insight!

  11. WOW!! Totally inspiring :) I came over from Sarah's blog!!! Thanks for sharing your life!!!!!

  12. ThyHand, Good job laying it out how it is.

  13. Just popped over from Clover Lane. I love your blog. I love your story! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely be back!

  14. I too found you from Clover Lane! I'm so glad I did! We too are in our third year of Pharmacy school...hubby is that is. He has a very part time job on top of school which I know is difficult for him, but we didn't have the savings. That would have been a smart idea a few years earlier! Good advice to pass along! Looking forward to the rest of your blog.

  15. Amazing, thank you for sharing! I will join the "came over from Clover Lane" club and will add that I am so glad I did! When we step back and let the Lord guide our lives we are truly blessed! I will be back, thanks for sharing.

  16. I just read your interview on Clover Lane. It was awesome. You are such an inspiration! I'm so proud of you and consider myself lucky to have you as a friend.

    Neighbor - D.

  17. I'm not from Clover Lane...I feel so unique among your commenters :)
    This post sounds so much like our story too, except that we are still in the beginning of it...the tiny apartment with a baby and in school. But the financial lessons are the same and we realize how good life still is even when we are poor.
    Luckily, we get to have a garden even before we buy a house, thank goodness :)
    How grateful I am that the Lord gives us all direction if we listen. It has made (and will make) all the difference. Thanks for the story!

  18. hi, found you from clover lane, like many others. what an inspirational story. you inspire me. i will be back. thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi...from clover lane as well! I had to share how impressed I am with your decisions. And how "back then" I would've had enough sense to do the same thing. I feel the pull more and more everyday to just let go of all these worldly things, and am still praying to see what that means.

    Also...I love your "voice" on your blog! It's so fresh and real. I love it! I'll be sure to stop back!

  20. What a great blog. I'll be back. My husband and I just finished medical school in which I stayed home with our 3 kids as well. (and we have a child named Sam). I try to cook from scratch as much as possible. I am enjoying looking through your blog and getting some inspiration. Thanks again.

  21. Great testimony, not only to God's wonderful provisions in our lives, but what one can do if they want or need to!

  22. Love your postings! My husband and I read the little but powerful book, "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. The next week our pastor preached on "Givers or Takers?". We sat down on Monday and joyfully wrote out checks. That same night my husband fell off our roof and broke his neck, thumb and put a 6 inch gash in his head. He is fortunate to be alive and it is slow going. I have started a small soap and cosmetic business. We are both retired. Boy, talk about living on the edge! God provides..everyday. And we are committed. Our prayer is that God cleans us up, draws us closer to HIM and that we live to give..

  23. I found your blog after linking here from Pinterest while looking for a grape jam recipe. I have always been interested in the Mennonite religion, but I don't think there is a church near me. We are getting ready to move to the country and I plan on growing a lot of our food. I also homeschool our 3 children. I am looking forward to combing through your recipes and older entries!


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