If you are a mom trying to figure out how to stay home but are concerned about your family’s finances, I want to offer some practical help and suggestions. I used to be one of those women. But guess what? YOU CAN DO IT!
I believe three factors are involved in the process of converting to a one-income family:
- A renewed way of seeing your material life (including the determination to do whatever it takes)
- Saving money
- Earning extra money
An expectation makeover
I think a lot of women can’t see the possibility of slashing the family’s income, because they can’t imagine life any differently than the one they live, materially speaking. It is as certain as the sun rises: a family will spend what it earns. A $100,000 income family will usually spend all of that and a $30,000 income family will spend all of that. Both will say (because it’s true) that they “live paycheck to paycheck.”
If and when husband and wife decide it’s important for her to come home, and really believe it, they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. It may even mean moving to a lower cost-of-living state. Sounds drastic, but I’ve heard of it happening when the desire is strong enough. But a little less drastic, may just mean a good look at expenses and budget surgery.
The first place to start is a look at how much money will be saved just by the wife coming home. Gas, clothing, lunches, less eating out due to more time at home, child care, etc., all needs to be calculated. If she makes $35,000/year, that is not the actual figure that will be deducted from the total income if she were to quit her job. After expenses are taken out, you get a clearer picture that might be surprising.
The other thing I like to remember is, every dollar she earns is taxed; every dollar she saves is not. A penny saved is more than a penny earned!
Saving Money (remember every little bit adds up to a lot!):
- Are there extras you can do without?
- How many times do you go out to eat? (This is one of the biggest money-eaters.) And when you do go out, ordering water saves money. Our family saves about $15 just by ordering water to drink! Also, there almost always coupons if you look for them.
- Do you have two cell phones? You should be able to get by with one now–drop the other one or shop for lower rates.
- Look at the grocery budget, and decide how you could bargain shop now that you will have a little more time. Consider purchasing in bulk. Buy less convenience foods (it’s cheaper and healthier), and purchase what’s on sale, creating your menu around that.
- Dry your clothes on the clothesline when weather permits.
- Look into making homemade Christmas gifts–it’s not as hard as you might think!
- Shop yard sales and thrift stores. This is probably our biggest money-saver.
- Learn to be content with less–great for the budget and the soul!
- Try simple medical remedies first. An ear infection can usually be treated with peroxide. The same goes for tooth aches.
After your obvious expenses are cut, revise your expectations. Are the shopping sprees you’re accustomed to going to matter more than being at home with your children when you are 80? And you can certainly be assured that your children aren’t going to suffer because of less money. They may whine if they’re accustomed to certain things, but they’ll be better for it. I love this quote:
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”
I highly suggest getting Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover.” It motivated us SO much! He has great advice on how to pay off debt and get back on track with your budget. I wrote Finding Financial Freedom which summarized Dave’s advice along with our personal story of getting out of credit card debt.
Another good book is Amy Dacyczyn’s “The Tightwad Gazette“–lots of great tips and tricks for saving money.
Then, there’s always the option of a home business. I named the post “living on one income” because that’s what people are searching for to find posts like these, but staying home doesn’t mean you can’t have additional income. It can actually give you many opportunities for earning extra money.
We started a homemade skin product business one year when things were really tight. It was born out of my plan to make homemade skin products gifts for Christmas. That business (born out of dire need) gave birth to this blog,
which is now a second income for us and was a great income for us for years. (We eventually closed the skin product business.) Internet marketing has changed the face of opportunity in America. What you need now is a product, some basic internet marketing skills and you have potential to get your product in front of thousands of potential customers.
If you enjoy writing, write an e-book and sell it.
Sell stuff on E-bay or Craigslist. This was a fairly easy, straightforward way to start making extra money fast. Once I offered to sell things for my friends/family, keeping half of the profits.
Think about what you like to do, and then see if there’s a way to make money at it!
There are so many frugal ideas out there, if you just become aware of them. I shared once about my recent purchase of checks. I found a website where first-time customers get a discount. I got 2 boxes of checks for $18.00. BUT, they also offered a rebate for signing up with some other company. I signed up, cancelled before I owed anything (they said I could), and got a $20 rebate in the mail. So I actually made $2.00 on my purchase!
There are lots more for the serious frugal zealot!
I just wanted to throw a little encouragement out there for those of you serious about wanting to come home and cherish those fleeting years with your family. It’s been worth every penny and then some.
I would also love any of your suggestions for our readers (you never know who may be reading, desperately looking for hope to come home)–so let’s hear ’em!
Get my ebook, How to Get Out of Debt & Live Financially Free, to see how we paid off $38,000 of debt on one income!