The thought of living off a single income for many families is a very scary and overwhelming thought. Our society has done a great job at teaching us it’s impossible for a family to survive on one income. I was definitely a victim of this mentality for a long time. The first step to transitioning to a single income is to ignore what society has taught you and know that if you believe this is truly right for your family, then you can make it happen!
It is going to take A LOT of adjustments and sacrifices, but it will be so worth it. Nothing… no career, no identity, no prize or possession in this world is more valuable than time with your children. No one can replace the unconditional love, nurturing and devotion that a mother pours into her children.
I never really thought much about daycare until I was trying to get pregnant. I realized that I did not want my children in daycare, but not working was never even a thought. Fortunately for me, my Dad, when my first child was born was 62 years old and did not work. He willingly, but reluctantly, agreed to watch my son, allowing me to work part-time after my son was born. I was thrilled that I could keep my career that I had just worked so hard to obtain and we would not have to struggle financially.
I went back to work when my son was 13 weeks old. Looking back, I honestly can’t even believe I did it, but that is what we are supposed to do, right? I started off only working 10 hours a week out of the house, which was awesome. I was really blessed to work for a very flexible and understanding company. The weeks and months passed and my Dad seemed to be holding his own. Don’t get me wrong, he had his difficult days, but the two of them starting bonding and all was well.
Since things were going well, I increased my hours out of the house to about 15-20 hours a week after a few months. But as more time passed, and we were approaching my son’s first birthday, I began to have an emotional shift. I began to realize how fast life was, and is, passing by. And so, I started to wonder…
The Emotional Shift
Was the extra money worth it?? Always having extra cash in the budget, my trips to the spa, all the new clothes we could need and more, vacations, dining, etc…Was it really worth sacrificing time away from my child who was only going to be a child for a very, few short years? Would I look back when my house was paid off early and we were easily able to provide possessions or vacation my kids wanted and say, “I am sure glad I worked when you kids were younger so we could have all these things.”…
…or would I look back with regret. Regret that I prized money and things over time with my children that I can never, ever get back.
Around the same time this emotional shift was occurring in me, a book that I read about a year earlier, was jogged in my memory, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley. While reading the book, I remember thinking, “yes, and this all sounds great, I would love to be home full-time with my children. I would love be the sole person pouring my heart and soul into them and watching every moment of their childhood. But, we just can’t do that. We have bills to pay and we can’t live paycheck to paycheck, it’s just not even possible to survive on one income” But all of those negative thoughts started to dissipate once I put it all perspective of how fleeting this life on earth truly is.
The title of the book suggests full-time motherhood is radical compare to what modern-day society has taught us. It is a clever title, but I think it is radical that society has shifted to believe that children should be with anyone but their own mother! From the moment my heart and the Holy Spirit whispered to me that being “Radical” was the right answer….…I chose no regret and I never looked back.
My last day of work was December 17, 2014 when my son was 14 months old and I was very early pregnant with my daughter. I will never forget it or regret it. I hope to inspire you to not only do the same, but to help you take the financially steps to make the adjustment.
Financial Tips for Making the Transition
The first thing we did once we knew we were going to make the change to single income was think about the timing of the transition. What did our current financial situation look like and what did we have coming up over the next few weeks and months? For us, it was around September that we decided we would do it. After going over our finances, bills to be paid over the next few months, balance in savings, and were we wanted to be, we decided I would continue working until the end of December. Those 3 months were the longest 3 months of my life!!
- Medical Appointments/Expenses
During those 3 months we worked on our financial goals, as well as made any type of medical appointments that we felt we should get taken care of. I was the health insurance carrier at the time and we would be switching to my husband’s plan come January. Not only would his plan be more expense, but we would have less income to help pay for routine visits. We made sure all of our annual exams such as Physicals, Dental and Vision were up to date and had any blood work done. We both got our eye prescription updated and filled why we still had the extra money in our budget.
- Decreasing Monthly Expenses
This is where you make it all happen. We went through every monthly expense with a fine tooth comb to see where we could cut. Let’s break this section down.
Housing costs– If you have high housing costs, rent or mortgage, here is one area where you could potentially decrease your expense a lot. While it may not be ideal to move or sell your home, it may allow you to easily stay home full-time with your children.
- When we realized we were expecting our second child, literally a week after I stopped working on Christmas Eve morning, we knew there was no way we could financially stay in our home that we had lived in for almost 9 years, while supporting a family of 4. This was an extremely difficult decision for me. First, there were all the memories we had created in this home. Second, we had just completed the last major inside project in our home the year before, which was the kitchen. We spent months saving and planning our new kitchen. My husband, father and uncle spent weeks rebuilding our custom kitchen from the studs up, and it was exactly what I wanted. I was by no means ready to walk away from this house, but I had to. We had a very high mortgage, (bought in 2006 during a high point in the market) for a very small house. We knew the best decision for our future family of 4 was to sell. We took a few months to get the house ready to hit the market in the most cost-effective way we could. Once on the market, our home sold in 17 days for only $5,000 less than our asking price. That was clearly God leading us out of that house!
- Once we closed on our home, I set aside a significant amount, before purchasing our next house, for emergency savings. This money is to be used ONLY in the event that my husband would become unemployed for whatever reason. I put this money in a separate money market savings, not linked to any other account. In my mind, this money literally does not exist. We also have a basic savings account that is hooked up to our checking account. We use this savings account for any unexpected expenses that come up in ever day life.
- If you do own a home and can stay there and you pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on your mortgage, check with your mortgage holder about when you can drop your PMI. Here is a good article on ways to get rid of PMI.
Health Insurance – Consider increasing your health insurance deductible to lower your monthly premium. Choose a deductible that you feel comfortable with. This could save you $100+ a month.
- After my daughter was born and we paid the lower deductible for her birth, we decided that we would raise the deductible amount giving us a lower monthly premium. We chose the middle deductible amount, which was comfortable for us, knowing that we may have another child and we can plan for the extra expense.
Home Owners Insurance & Car Insurance – Call your home and car insurance company(s) and speak to them about areas of your plan where you could potential cuts costs. You can usually increase your deductibles to get lower premiums at a bare minimum, but they may have other ways you can save.
- We were able to lower our monthly car insurance due to the fact that my car was no longer being used to commute far distances to and from work. My car is listed as leisure and my husband’s is listed as a commuter with a set amount of miles traveled per day. This lowered our premium.
Cell Phone Bill – Ok, this one I know most of you are not going to like…get rid of your smart phone!! By switching back to a basic, yes basic phone, you can save over $100 per month!! That picture below really is my cell phone!! We have internet at home so I can use my old smart phone just as I did for everything other than a phone when I am home or anywhere with free Wi-Fi. I don’t miss my smart phone at all!!
- We only have our cell phones, no home phone, so that’s another decrease in monthly expense.
TV– We do not have cable TV. We have an Over the Air HD Antenna and we have a monthly subscription to Netflix. Way cheaper than a monthly cable bill!
Grocery Expense –This is probably the one that I and most people struggle with and where most of our money goes! It takes time, preparation and consistency to stick to a grocery budget. Before becoming a stay at home mom, I shopped at the same store and bought whatever food we wanted, when we wanted it, never look at sales or coupons…and I wish I had!! All the money lost! See my tips below to stay on budget.
- Always, always, always menu plan! This is the ONLY way you will stay on budget.
- Menu plan based on the sales! Read your weekly sales flyers and choose meals so that you can use some of the items on sale at various stores in your area.
- Use the same ingredients for multiple recipes when menu planning. No waste and less expense. An example would be buying the larger spinach package and make two recipes with it. Extra bonus if it’s on sale!!
- Coupon! Most stores now have printed coupons in the flyers or digital coupons on their app. Make sure you look at these when menu planning. Also, you know that thin little newspaper that comes once a week with manufacturer coupons for things most of us probably never buy?? Well look at those too! Sometimes there are some good ones in there, especially for paper products like toilet paper, tissues, paper towels etc…Again, don’t leave money on the table!!’
- If you know during a particular week that you need to buy things you don’t always buy, like spices, shampoo, soaps, etc. That can really increase the grocery bill. Alter your menu to make cheaper meals that week to absorb the cost of those non-regular items.
- Buy extra of non-perishable or things you can freeze such as meats when they are on sale and stock up. Only do this though if you have the extra cash that week to do so.
- Shop at wholesale clubs like BJs that you can buy bulk in and save for items that you use a lot of. Remember to look at their coupon flyer that comes in the mail and the journal in the store before you shop.
- Other Tips
Those are the biggest areas we have cut expenses and it made the difference of me being able to stay home with my children. Everyone’s life is different, so some of these things may not work for you, but you may find other areas that you can cut costs. Make sure you think out of the box if you have to. Contact your providers, such as cable, internet, electric, cell phone etc.; and try to negotiate or ask if there are ways you can lower your bills.
A few other small tips I have are to buy your kids’ clothes at the end of the retailseason. Ever notice how bathing suits are going on clearance in June??! If you live in New England like me, you are lucky to put a bathing suit on before the end of June…so don’t ever pay full price for those bathing suits!! You can pretty much do the same for all seasons. Just always browse those clearance racks and you will never know what you can score!
Also, on the opposite end, if you come across something that is a great deal and it could be a birthday present for someone you know that is coming up..Buy it! That is if you have the extra cash that week to do so. Don’t wait until a few days before the birthday and have to run out and pay full price for something if you don’t have to!
Budget Budget Budget
Making a budget and sticking to it as best you can is the key when money is tight. The less money you have, the more you need a budget!!
One thing I do to make sure I keep my mind on the right track is check in on my checking account balance before I head out to make Target run. Remind yourself how much you have to spend and stick to it so you don’t end up taking everything home with you!
Make a monthly budget so you can see big picture and then make a budget for how ever often you get paid. For us, my husband gets paid bi-weekly. Every two weeks on pay-day, I review the monthly budget and pay the bills due during that two-week period. I also review the bills that will be due the following two weeks to see if any adjustments need to be made to the budget. Staying ahead of your budget is the key to success. If you make it on paper, but never refer back to it, you will sink.
If at the end of the day, after all the planning and all the budgeting, you know in your heart that the natural and right thing for your family is for you to be home with your little one or little ones…then TRUST. Trust that God will provide..because He will. At the end of the day let Psalm 46:10 resonate in your heart… “Be still, and know that I am God…”
If becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom is a burden on your heart and you think you are in the position to do so, I encourage you to take the first step! I would love to help and support you in any way I can, so please reach out to me!!
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