October 7, 2013

How do you {I) afford to be a stay at home mom? Question Answered

This question has been asked of me a number of times.  At first I thought it was a bit rude to ask or even say, but after recently being asked again I thought to myself "maybe it's not meant in a rude way, but rather she's actually looking for advice or insight on how to make it happen for herself".

This is my attempt to answer the question {that I know I wondered myself once upon a time}...
"How do you {I} afford to be a stay at home mom?"

Let me preface by saying...my hubby isn't bringing home a couple hundred thousand dollars a year {in fact when I first started staying home his salary was almost half of what he's making now}.  We've been on both sides of the fence {income wise} - I stayed at home after our first child, went back to school and then working full-time, and have been back home full-time for the last four years.  In our situation after doing the math {costs associated with me working: daycare, food, clothes, parking/gas, etc.} the take home pay wouldn't be worth the time and stress of a full-time job.

We have decided/chosen that for us it is important for the kids to have one of their parents home with them {I'm the blessed one that gets to do it}.  The 18 years that we have them at home {God willing} are short and important - for us, the extra money in the savings account and 401k accounts can wait.

In a nut shell: it hasn't always been easy, but we choose to make it work.

To Start With...We took a leap of faith.  If we had said "we need to save for such and such first", it never would have happened...there would have always been something to save for or something more we would have "needed" first.  We trust, believe, and have faith that we will always have "enough".

We budget!  We haven't always done this.  In fact we only started seriously budgeting less than a year ago after completing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, but it has been life changing!

The month we started Dave's program we were practically living paycheck to paycheck.  Within 6 months we paid off a number of debts - the biggest being our van {which we paid off 2 years early!}.  We still have debts we are paying off {stupid school loans}, but we have a plan and are plugging away.

We don't eat out {very often}!  We used to be so lazy in planning dinner so we would resort to eating out last minute.  We still go out, but we budget for it.  I'm not a great meal planner - I don't plan meals out a month or weeks at a time, and don't have a freezer full of ready to make meals, but we are making dinners at home and saving money.

We buy on Sale and skip the name brands!  I'm not a coupon-er {I don't have the patience or the time} but I do my best to be mindful of buying when on sale - especially kids clothes, etc. We don't buy/pay ridiculous amounts of money on name brand things for the kids {at age 9 and under North Face, Uggs, and other brands aren't necessary}.  I'm honestly not a good thrift shopper for clothes, I'd rather watch for stuff to go on clearance or sale at the store.  When I do have time and energy I like making some clothes for the kids.  I buy a lot of our produce {clean 15} at Aldi {their selection of organic items is growing too} and have seen a tremendous amount of savings since starting shopping there.

We choose not to go on elaborate vacations. Would we like to? Of course! But we choose to use our money in other ways.  We still do "getaways" with the kids, and last year we did our first 10 day family vacation to Texas {visiting NASA, Sea World, and more}, but they're always planned & budgeted for...never put on a credit card.

We choose not to drive fancy/brand new cars.  One of the blessings of my husband's job is a company car, but we haven't always had this benefit.  The car he had before this job was paid for {nothing fancy, but it worked}.  I mentioned above our van is now paid for & we have thankfully found a mechanic that we trust and is very affordable to help us maintain it.

We choose to live in an adequate house.  No, it's not in my dream neighborhood, or dream city {heck it's not even in my dream state}, but it is affordable, safe, has enough space, and is within our means of need {vs. want}.

We choose our entertainment wisely.  We always pay cash for "entertainment" things {this way we don't spend more than we have}.  Entertainment is something we plan for...my hubby doesn't go golfing every weekend in the summer.  He would love to, but it's {the cost} just isn't necessary.  We rent movies instead of going to movies.  We don't go to the mall to "peruse" ...too tempting to buy something we don't need.  We opt for evenings in with friends rather than going out to dinner or going out for drinks.

These are a few of the ways we have made me being a stay at home mom "doable".  Sure, we miss out on some of the things we would like to do, but nothing brings greater joy and fulfillment than just "being" with the kids, spending time with them, watching them grow, and being there for them.

There will be a day and time in life when I can work again {not that I'm itching to}, but there will never be a time in life that I could get back missed days and years with the kids.

What tips do you have for making staying at home "doable"?  What have you done to budget and save?

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