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The 36-Hour Day

with Lylah M. Alphonse

I'm a full-time editor, a part-time writer, and a mom and stepmom to five amazing kids, ages 1 to 14. For me it's not about finding balance, it's about the daily juggle-- my career, my commute, freelance work, homework, housework, married life, social life, and parenting-- and finding the time to get it all done.

To learn more about Lylah, check out her Work It, Mom! profile and read her blog at

Are you cutting back?

Categories: Frugal Living, Hacking Life, Uncategorized, do more with less


One of the things that has really shocked me about the state of the economy in general and my company in particular is that when people ask me if things are really as bad as they say on the news, and I say, “Well, yes,” they say, cheerfully, “Well, at least you have your husband’s salary to fall back on.”

It’s as if, in spite of everything, the concept of a breadwinning mom is still unfathomable.

So, like so many people out there, we’re cutting back. We’re reevaulating everything we buy, changing the way we eat, rethinking the things we used to do without a second thought.

We’re considering pulling our youngest kids out of preschool and daycare for part of the week — something I didn’t think I’d ever have to do — and go back to working different shifts and trading off with the kids in the middle.

I know it’s necessary, but I’ll admit: I kind of resent having to do this. Part of me thinks, “I worked so hard for so many years, and I’m at this point again?”

The rest of me, though, is dealing with it a bit better. We’re among the lucky ones, really. We can manage.

Are you cutting back at home? What expenses are on the chopping block? Is there anything you refuse to cut out?

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4 comments so far...

  • My husband was laid off from his second, part-time job (the one he does on top of his regular, full-time day job in order for me to be able to stay home full-time with our daughters) last December, and while he was just re-hired (whew!), the last 6 months were really hard, and we cut back a lot–even though I’d thought there was nothing left to cut. I started using half the normal amount of laundry detergent per load, gave up commercial cleaning products for super-cheap baking soda and white vinegar (bonus: better for the environment, too!), swore off soda to save on the grocery bill, and prioritized children’s activities such as tumbling class and dance lessons. Our budget is a bit healthier now that my husband’s second job is back in place, but we’re always aware that anyone can be “expendable” in this economy, and that our finances are tight no matter what, since we’re making do with one major breadwinner. (I do some part-time freelance writing and professional consulting, but it’s not enough to pay the bills.)

    Shannon  |  May 25th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

  • I’m trying to figure out how to transition from nanny to preschool/day care without ruining the nanny’s life. It’s not that I can’t afford the nanny but it seems stupid to pay that kind of money when we really don’t need it any more. I’d rather be saving against future uncertainties. But she is single too (and elderly with a special needs daughter) and has a lot less of a nest egg than I do.

    SKL  |  May 25th, 2009 at 8:04 pm

  • Cutting Back…downgraded our renter’s insurance and removed some items from the policy to save; Considering cutting our land line and our cable (but keeping the internet); While we never really ate out, that’s all but dried up completely and our one night out a month is relegated to meeting up with friends at our VFW (it’s cheap).

    Phe  |  May 26th, 2009 at 7:05 am

  • I’ve cut so many corners our house is now round. Ok, not really, but sometimes it feels that way. Cable is gone. Newspapers are gone (except the Sunday one that my MIL pays for as a gift). Kids extra activities like gymnastics, skating, dancing - all gone. I’ve cut back on the groceries I buy, especially meats and I rarely buy canned beans anymore. And a biggie, the babysitters. While I need the help of a sitter/nanny, I’m working around that to save the money.

    I really don’t know where else to cut corners but I’m trying. We tried to cut back to Folgers and pretended to like it for two weeks. But then we agreed that we just couldn’t do it. Coffee is a pleasure and it had been reduced to a chore. I even stopped drinking it and, while that is healthy and lovely, it made me a b%#^*!!

    Things we’ve been doing for years: 1/2 or less the recommended detergent for washer and dishwasher. Hanging clothes to dry when able. Cable only during the NBA season (heehee, gotta have my hoops but I did turn it off early this year when my team was eliminated). One car. Gas credit from the grocery store. Constantly improving the energy efficiency of the house.

    Mandy Nelson  |  May 26th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

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