Listen, I know it probably feels impossible to you right now to ever afford to give up one income to stay home. That’s why you’re here, right? You’re Googling or Pinteresting (is that a word? Yeah, Pinterest is totally a verb) how to afford to be a stay at home parent. I was exactly where you are.
I’m going to first apologize for the length of this series…I really want to help you out and that means some rambling is necessary on my part. Some of these ideas probably aren’t new information for you, but I really hope you get some helpful nuggets of information that push you further down your path to one-income living. Follow through this series, implement the tips here, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a one-income family in no time!
What You Need and What You Don’t
What I want you to understand is that it IS possible, you just have to give up some perfect ideals. You don’t have to pay off all of your debt. You don’t have to have a gigantic savings account. What you do need is to have determination, organization, and some basic tools at your disposal.
While I understand that not everyone feels called to be a stay at home mom or dad, I also personally know the feeling of not wanting to be forced to send my baby to daycare so I can work all day.
With the costs of daycare and gas, I would have literally been working just to send our baby to daycare and net maybe $500 after those costs.
For us, it just wasn’t worth it. We were determined to find a way to allow me to be a stay at home mom.
The first thing you need to do on your journey to becoming a one income family is figure out exactly how much money you’re going to need to make from home to make that a reality.
It seems simple to assume you need to replace your entire income, but that probably isn’t the case.
When you’re extremely passionate about being able to live off of one income (even if it’s a low income) in order to stay at home with your kids, you’re going to have to be just as passionate about finding ways to make it happen.
How much do you really need?
Let’s do some simple math.
I want you to go get a piece of paper, open an excel file, whatever you need, and tally up some basics. We’re going to make some messy notes right now because I think a brain-dump really REALLY helps to put things into perspective.
How much is your house payment? Car payment? Average utility bills? Credit cards? Student loans?
Make a list of all of your “have to pay” items and how much you spend monthly on them.
Now, I want you to take that number minus the income that will still be coming in when you leave your job.
Spouses income – $2000
Must-have expenditures – $1500
Equals – _______
Now, we’re going to have to budget for food, gas, and extras. In my example, we’d have $500 left over for a whole month of food purchases. Is that enough for your family? Let’s also leave a small slush fund for life to happen. $50-$100 should be plenty when you’re first switching from a two income lifestyle to one.
Now, if you had $500 left over and you honestly believe you can squeeze your food, gas, and entertainment purchases into that amount, our conversation stops here.
You can technically afford to quit your job without making any more adjustments.
If you’re like most families, when you’re realistic about your food, gas, entertainment, and other expenses, you’re coming up with a negative number.
That’s what we need to focus on next. If you feel like you’ve cut absolutely every expense you can and you’re still coming up short, try this exercise.
I want you to open your bank account online, credit card accounts, wherever you spend money, and we’re going to look at one thing – food.
Total up every penny you spent on something edible in the last month. This includes gas station trips for a quick hot dog or coffee, fast food restaurants, sit down restaurants, take out, and regular groceries.
More than you expected?
Ours broke my heart. Are we really eating away our kids college funds? Kind of. When so much money is going into our bellies every month, we’re making the choice to spend that money on food than on our kids’ futures. For my family – we weren’t talking about a little dinner out here and there. We were talking about several hundred dollars each month.
That’s a kind of mommy guilt I never want to feel again. If you’re in the same boat, break your addiction to going out to eat and cook at home. Even if you have to spend a little more to make whatever you’re craving at home, it beats the heck out of going off the rails and going out to eat, blowing your budget on one meal, and then giving up.
If you want that restaurant meal, make it at home, but make that sucker last for 2 or 3 meals. That’s how you get to stay home with your kids. Stretch those dollars as far as you possibly can.
The absolute biggest money suck for most families is food. Was your food budget more than you expected? How many times did you eat out last month?
I know that a lot of you are going to say – “but we were on vacation”, “had a birthday dinner”, “work meetings…” Etc. The excuses start flowing when you’re facing a hard number that you don’t like.
Do you know what I call all of those things?
Life happens and is going to continue to happen when you leave your job to stay home with your baby. The difference is, we’re going to budget for those things.
Here is a roundup of amazing posts from top bloggers with unique tips for saving money on food – groceries, eating out, and lifestyle habits.
Stay tuned. In my next post, we’ll evaluate exactly what you can do to cut your food, gas, and personal care expenses and do a little experiment over the course of the next 30 days to challenge us to save as much as possible.