One of our readers sent me a thought-provoking email she received from “Laine’s Letters” in answer to a question to one of her readers about “homemakers.” This reader’s question for Laine had to do with feeling that her job as a homemaker was worth “little or less” than being employed within a career. Laine’s response was to show that a homemaker contributes an enormous amount financially to the family and she assigned a dollar value to 33 categories of services and savings within her own family.

One thing that Laine suggested was for homemakers to write down everything they as a homemaker save per month by being a homemaker. Multiply that figure by 12 and that’s a homemaker’s “yearly savings salary.” Laine had the goal of trying to double her husband’s annual salary by her savings as a homemaker. In her example, she did more than that. (In her case, they worked very hard to become debt free and she homeschools the children. Her figures come from what friends and family members are paying each month for similar items in southern California where she and her family reside.)

I wanted to share a portion of this letter since many of our readers and shoppers are homemakers and I thought it might be an encouraging exercise for each homemaker to find her “yearly savings salary.” I’m sure many women feel unappreciated and undervalued and I hope this information will fuel thoughts that reverse such attitudes. (Please note that all categories will not apply to everyone and some will not work for certain families at all but you might get some good ideas.)

1) No mortgage (paid off), no car payments, no credit card or any other debt payments in interest charges: $400 mo. savings

2) No higher tax bracket because I do not work outside the home: $150 mo. savings

3) Food, Household, & Pet because I have time to shop carefully, use coupons, and homecook: $600 mo. savings

4) Clothing – lots of hand-me-downs, no need to buy quality suit clothes for work anymore: $50 mo. savings

5) Private Schooling -I provide this at home for my two students: $1100 mo. savings

6) Gas – I only go out once a weekday with the car, no drives to work and back, and I live 40 min round trip from town: $400 mo. savings

7) DMV & Car insurance – I drive a ’92 Honda, older car purposely for bigger savings: $50 mo. savings

8 ) Internet – none, so we use the library if we need it: $10 mo. savings

9) Books – rarely buy them, rather use interlibrary loan system for free: $20 mo. savings

10) Gifts – I have time to shop wisely and put gifts away when I see a good deal: $40 mo. savings

11) Healthcare – I am consistently learning about herbs and nutrition to keep my family healthy so the doc visits are rare for them: $50 mo. savings

12) Cleaning and decorating my home- done privately by me- including carpet cleaning: $90 mo. savings

13) Landscape Maintenance – privately done by my husband and I, and the kids, above-ground pool maintenance too: $75 mo. savings

14) Haircuts -done by me: $25 mo.

15) Car maintenance – done by my husband, but kept at a lower minimum since I purposely use the car once a weekday: $50 mo. savings

16) Car wash – done privately by us: $20 mo. savings

17) Staying in our older home purposely with contentment for the past 21 years, no upgrades, so less yearly taxes: $250 mo. savings

18) Childcare – done by me (savings once we get our baby, and years ago when my children were young): $600 mo. savings per child

19) Drycleaning – none- done by me: $25 mo. savings

20) No exercise membership fees – exercise at home for free: $40 mo. savings

21) No shopping channels or cable for t.v.: $60 mo. savings

22) Starbucks run – none- make ours at home and take it with us: $20 mo. savings

23) Renters – rent out part of our house – I am here all the time to manage our home: $290 mo. savings

24) Skincare – I use natural and some homemade products which saves a lot: $20 mo.

25) Frugal Vacation planning – time to do it and research for overall savings: $75 mo. savings

26) Laundry – no dryer, hang out clothes outside and use 1/2 the amt of detergent each load: $30 mo. savings

27) Heating – I am home to man the fireplace and the kerosene stove, so we save a lot: $30 mo. savings

28) Cooling – I am home to keep the house cool with fans and window treatments, minimum air: $20 mo. savings

29) Lunches out – kids eat at home, and more time to prepare lunches if we need them out: $40 mo. savings

30) Newspaper & magazines – free at the library: $25 mo. savings

31) Dining out – not frequently – rather time to cook at home: $50 mo. savings

32) Rent old movies or buy music – rather rent from the library for free: $20 mo. savings

33) Family Portraits and School/Senior Pics – done privately by me as I learned in college: $10 mo. savings

My total savings a year: $56,820

When looked at this way it’s amazing the financial contributions that a homemaker adds to her family — and I know that a homemaker’s contributions are much more than financial alone. I was stunned by the bottom line in Laine’s example and I could think of other areas that were not included in her case that would be for many other families (including taxi services, tutoring, medical care and teaching non-academic subjects like manners, cleanliness, morals, ethics, etc.). Wow, way to go, Homemakers!

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