Can you afford to be a stay at home mom? If you are asking yourself this question, then it’s worth finding out the answer! Read on and find out!
When I tell someone I meet for the first time that I stay at home with my kids, I’ll usually get one of two responses.
A mom who is fulfilled and content will respond with something like, “That’s great. Every mom should be able to make that choice for herself.” And I couldn’t agree more – women who enjoy their careers shouldn’t feel like they have to give them up to be good moms! A happy and fulfilled mom is a good mom, period!
Which leads me to the second response I typically receive when I meet new people: “You’re really lucky. I wish I could stay at home with my kids, but we can’t afford it.” Believe it or not, I get this response about twice as often as the first. There are a lot of women out there who are working while wishing they could be at home with their kids!
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t sure I could afford to be a stay at home mom either! But when we took a look at our budget, we found all kinds of ways we could cut back! If you want to be at home with your children but aren’t sure how to make it work, consider cutting back where we have! Here’s what we did:
1. Get out of debt, and stay out!
If you are paying off student loans or making car or credit card payments, it’s going to be really tough making ends meet on one income. Before you quit work, make a plan to get out of debt as soon as possible. Check out Dave Ramsey’s web page – it’ll give you a seven-step plan for getting out of debt and getting control of your money! It’s been very helpful for us – we’ve both paid off our student loans, our car is paid for, and we’re working on getting our credit card balance down to zero!
2. Get a home you can afford.
One of the most important financial decisions you will ever make is buying a home. Your house payment should not be more than 1/3 of your take home pay – whether you live on one income or two. If you need both of your incomes to afford your house payment, then consider selling and moving to a smaller place. It’s a very big step, but if that’s what’s keeping you from following your dream of staying at home with your kids, then it’s worth it.
And if you’re worried about not living in the best school district, don’t. We live in Los Angeles, where good school districts add 150,000 or more to the value of a house – and I’m not worried. Take it from this former school teacher – there are multiple terrific options out there for your kids outside of the traditional school system, such as charter and magnet schools, or even home school programs. Just apply to everything, and be so persistent you’re considered annoying. :)
3. Consider cutting back to one car.
One big way to save money is to only own one car. Not only do you save the money you would spend on the car itself, but your insurance rates and gas costs go down as well! Make a list of places within walking distance that you can take the kids during the day, such as your local library and park! You’d be surprised how easy it is to work around having one car!
4. Cook dinner at home (almost) every night!
You would be shocked to learn how much money most of us waste by dining out more often than we can afford! When you limit your restaurant visits to once a week (or once every two weeks), you will save a ton of money! (By the way, fast food counts!) When I was working, I didn’t always have the energy or motivation to make dinner, but now that I’m at home with the kids, I cook every night!
One thing that’s important to do once you cut out restaurants is to get your meal plan and grocery shopping list organized. You don’t want to buy food you’ll forget to eat, or visit the grocery store too often each week. The easiest way to do this is with eMeals! You just tell them what type of meal plan you want, your family’s size, and your favorite grocery store, and eMeals will send you a recipe for each day of the week, along with a grocery list coordinated with the sales going on at your grocery store! You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner plans! It couldn’t be easier, and it saves us a lot of money!
5. Stop spending money impulsively.
Make a budget for the things you need to buy each week, and stick to it! Don’t waste money at the coffee shop when you can brew it at home for pennies on the dollar! Don’t buy expensive new clothes if you don’t need them. Save money up for vacations, and don’t take an impulse trip to Vegas (like I used to do) if you can’t afford it. And if you have a hobby, don’t let it become a money pit. Budget for it, and find ways to make it affordable.
What are some ways you have cut back this year? Do you find it easy to live within your means, or is it difficult?