I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. It was my deepest hope and desire to be home with my children in their early years. But would it ever truly be realistic? I wasn’t so sure.
My first pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise and the conversation of “Can we manage on one income?” came much sooner than my husband and I expected. We weren’t quite ready to financially thrive on one income, but with a bit of planning and strategic money decisions, we eventually made it happen—even if it took longer than I wanted it to.
While I desperately wanted to stay home with my baby girl from the beginning, it just wasn’t the smartest choice for us. So I went back to work for a season after my baby was born, and that was what eventually made my dream of being a SAHM come to fruition. Basically, I’m a believer in short-term pain for long-term gain.
Here's how we were able to make my stay-at-home mom dreams a reality:
1. Build a Budget and Stick to It
A little elementary, no? Well, budgets really do work when everyone buys in. It’s how my husband and I paid off $80,000 worth of debt. When we decided that one income living was our goal, we set up a budget with his income only. We wanted to see if we could make it and where our shortfalls would be. Becoming a stay-at-home parent may be as simple as getting rid of one car payment or letting go of an annual vacation line item. You never know until you look at it and assess the numbers on paper.
2. Learn to Love Discount Grocery Stores
I love pretty produce displays as much as the next gal, but have you been to the discount grocery stores and outlets lately? Those places are packed with deals and often they’re full of organic, high quality foods. Looks aren’t everything and I found that minimizing our grocery budget (often one of the biggest expenses after rent and utilities,) was crucial to getting our finances in line.
But would I trade all the lattes and pad thai for less time with my baby? No way!
3. Click Unsubscribe
Temptation sucks. And mine tends to come in emails that proclaim “SALE!” on items I love or want. By unsubscribing, I eliminated the pull to spend on things I didn’t really need.
4. Embrace Consignment Shopping... and Selling
New isn’t always best and smart shopping in the secondhand market is a brilliant way to save. It’s also a fantastic way to earn extra money. Even now as a SAHM, I aim to earn a little each month by selling things my kids no longer want or need and it’s pretty easy to round up $100 or so each month from random sales on eBay, OfferUp, and local kids' consignment events.
5. Hello, Drip Coffee and Packed Lunches
I love the convenience of Starbucks and take-out. Who doesn't? But would I trade all the lattes and pad thai for less time with my baby? No way! My husband and I both committed to simple coffee and lunches from home and, believe it or not, it saves a few hundred dollars each month. Of course, we still allow the occasional treat, but by upsetting our daily habits we were able to invest in something much more important.
6. Find Frugal Friends
I don’t mean to judge families with excess funds at their disposal, but as Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy," and when you spend time with people who live in abundance, your perfectly wonderful life can start to look a little shabby. Find moms like you. The ones who are scrimping a bit and sacrificing their emotional sanity and their paychecks to be home during the early years and you’ll manage a bit better.