7 Things You Can Do to Afford Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
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Loss of income, increase in expenses and a whole lot of stress.
That’s the grim look of being a stay-at-home mom.
Even so, staying home with my kids was always a goal for me and my husband. For us, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Making it work was a big challenge though. I was expecting my first baby and we needed to get some things in order before her birth.
We were working against a hard deadline!
Here are some things we did (and you can do) to make it possible to stay home:
Know the Costs and Benefits
First, evaluate the true cost and benefits of staying home. Figure out what sacrifices need to be made and if you're willing to make those sacrifices.
Evaluate the cost of staying home.
- How much will your income be reduced by?
- How much does it cost to take care of your child(ren)? Do you have babies that need diapers and formula? How often do you need to replace your kids clothing? Will food costs be higher or lower? (They may be lower if you have been in the habit of eating out and can switch to fixing meals at home.)
Compare this to the cost of continuing to work.
- Does the cost of childcare cancel out the amount you can earn from working?
- How much will you be saving in gas if you don’t have a daily commute?
Consider the non-financial costs involved.
- Do you need to work a minimum number of hours to keep a license current?
- Can you find childcare that you can trust and rely on?
- Will you have time for social interaction with adults on a regular basis? (Staying home with children all the time can get taxing, it’s important to schedule some time with other adults or just for yourself.)
Set Goals and Priorities
When things get tough, you’ll want something to fall back on to remember why you are doing this. Get a clear picture in your head as to why this is the better decision for your family. This will help motivate you to make sacrifices if necessary.
Get clear on what goals you want to accomplish and when you want to complete them by.
Write it down with milestones to achieve the goals.
The goal of quitting your job and staying home.
When would you like to accomplish this goal by? Do you need to start right away? Or do you have a couple of months. Write down the date that you are aiming to start staying home so that you know how long you have to get your ducks in a row.
Goals while you are home.
What do you hope to accomplish while you are home? Think about what you hope to do while you are home. Are you going to implement some new routines? Are you planning to home school? Would you like to also watch other children for extra income or some other work from home opportunity while your kids are in school?
Create a Budget
I believe budgets should be followed in every family. When money is tight, they are especially necessary.
Related Article: Why Budgets = Freedom, NOT Restriction
When you’re trying to figure out how to afford to stay-at-home with your kids, you must know the following basic budget:
- Know your income (what your new income will be if you are leaving your job)
- Know your expenses
- Make sure they balance. In other words, your expenses do not exceed your income. (You’d be surprised how many people spend more than they make on a regular basis!)
A budget doesn’t need to be complicated. You can track it in a notebook or in an excel spreadsheet.
Pay off Debt
What debt can you pay off before you leave the work force?
I highly recommend using the debt snowball method.
The basic idea of the snowball method is to pay off the lowest debt first as soon as possible. Once this debt is paid off, roll your payment from this old debt over to pay off the next lowest debt sooner.
Here’s an example:
*Please note this example does not include interest and is for demonstration purposes only.
Once Credit Card A is paid off, you can use that money to pay extra on Credit Card B. This will allow you to pay off Credit Card B faster and then move that money to pay off the Car and eventually the student loan debt.
Our goal was to pay off our car before I left my job. What can you pay off before you stay home?
You may not be able to continue a snowball after you leave work, but you will have less bills to worry about paying.
Switch to Paying Cash (where ever possible)
Switching to paying with cash forces you to pay attention to your spending. If you are ever going to walk into any type of store, then you should pay cash. Groceries, clothing, haircuts and even electronic or furniture. This ensures you have the money to pay for what you want to buy.
If you pay off credit cards and can no longer afford payments on them, cut them up and don’t use them anymore so you don’t get yourself into any trouble.
Reserve debit cards for use with places that require card payments. A debit card with a major credit card logo can be used virtually everywhere credit cards are taken.
Related Article: The Ultimate Money Hack to Save You from Debt
Look at your regular expenses and see what you can reduce. Even if you can only reduce by a few dollars in several areas, it can really add up.
Here are several areas to look at to cut expenses:
Insurance – Ask for a higher deductible or bundle your auto and home insurance. You may also consider changing your health insurance and start a HSA (Health Savings Accont). Be sure to have an emergency fund to cover your higher deductible and costs not covered by insurance.
Cell phone – Downgrade your plan or switch carriers if they have a better plan. Avoid upgrading your phone.
Cable – Reduce or cancel your TV package. You can use a digital antenna to get local channels for free.
We turned off our cable for 4 years to save money. When we were ready to turn it back on we found that we didn’t ever watch it and ended turning it back off.
Transportation – Price out public transportation to see if it would be cheaper or coordinate for car pooling.
Food – Eat at home and learn to save on groceries. I can teach you my strategy for saving on groceries that saves us thousands of dollars a year.
You may also be able to start a garden. Even if you only have a small area you can still have a nice garden. I used the Square Foot Garden method that is designed to maximize the amount of food you can get from a small area.
Related Article: 7 Budget Killers You Must Avoid to Save on Groceries
Clothing – Shop sales and clearance items. Try to think ahead to what your kids will need in the upcoming seasons because it’s cheaper to buy off season. You can also try thrift stores, but make sure you only buy quality items that will last. If the used clothes wear out quickly you didn’t really save any money.
Set a budget for an amount you can spend on clothes and use cash. If you need clothes it must come from this budget and you may need to wait and save up before you can buy something. If you need something urgently, cut money out of another budget and transfer it to clothing.
Hair Care – Try coloring your hair yourself or going to a salon school for discounted haircuts. You can also extend the amount of time between haircuts/treatments by 1-2 weeks. This will reduce the number of times you get your hair done per year and save a little money.
Electricity – Install CFL or LED lightbulbs to replace old incandescent light bulbs. Also, don’t leave things plugged in all the time. Unplug things like your blender, toaster, or even cell phone chargers that aren’t being used.
Thermostat – Install a programmable thermostat. We use this Hunter thermostat which makes it easy to set different temperatures for night or when you aren't home during the day. You can adjust for weekend or weekday settings as well.
Credit Cards – Call to request a lower interest rate. Don’t use your credit cards if you are only planning to make payments on them. If you are using them for benefits and rewards you should be able to pay them in full every month.
Cancel Unused or Rarely Used Memberships – This could be gym memberships, magazine subscriptions or any other subscription that does not get used (or doesn’t get used enough.)
Move – If your home is too expensive, you may consider moving to somewhere more affordable. This is a big change to make, so make sure it makes sense in other areas as well (such as transportation and cost of living).
If you’ve come up with a budget and reined in your expenses and are still coming up short, you may need to do a little side hustle to bring in enough money to balance things out.
Keep in mind that working from home can be difficult with little ones running around. Set realistic expectations for yourself of what you can accomplish while still caring for your kids. You will likely need extra help with housework and chores if you are working from home.
You don’t have to try to be supermom and do it all!
Here are a few ideas:
Start an in-home daycare or preschool – Check for regulations in your area. If you want to keep it more low key, just babysit for a neighbor or two while they work.
Drive for Uber – If you’re not familiar with Uber, it’s the new revolutionary way to travel instead of taking a taxi. People request a ride through the Uber app on their phone. If you’re logged in as a driver and in the area, you’ll be notified and can be allowed to pick up the person and take them to their destination. The rider pays directly through the app.
Use my husbands affiliate link to sign up and you can get a $200 bonus after your first 30 rides.
Teach private lessons – Do you have a hidden talent? You can teach music, singing, or art lessons.
If you can sew, a fun and unique class is teaching children the lost are of sewing. A company I’ve worked with before is Kids Can Sew. They have a complete program, including easy patterns to get you going on teaching sewing classes to children.
Freelance writer – another freelance site you can try is freelancewriting.com. They will list writing opportunities that you can earn money from.
Sell stuff on Etsy – Turn your talent for crafts and design into a small business.
Amazon Resource: Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies
Part time photography or sell your photos – If you are a photographer you can take small jobs periodically or you can sell your photos online on sites like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto among many others.
Staying home with your children can be very rewarding. It's worth the effort to try to make it work (in my humble opinion). Try some of these strategies to see what you can do to help benefit your family.
Key things to try to make staying home possible
- Know the Costs and Benefits
- Set Goals and Priorites
- Create a Budget
- Pay Off Debt
- Switch to Cash
- Reduce Expenses
- Increase Income