Inside: You want to be a stay at home mom, but living on one income just won’t pay the bills. Learn how to afford to be a stay at home mom, and how to live off of one income (even a low one!) here.
Ever wondered how some families manage to make it on one income?
Every wished YOU could be a stay at home mom and still make ends meet? Here are some of the best ways that you can make being a stay at home mom possible for your family, even if that means living on one low income.
There’s no one shoe that fits us all…
Unfortunately becoming a stay at home mom isn’t a “one size fits all” type of scenario. Everyone’s situation is unique, and thus everyone’s ability – or not – to be a stay at home parent is also unique.
However, there are things you can do to (hopefully) make it possible for you to fulfill your dream of being a stay at home mom, even if that means living on a tight income!
How to Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom (even when money is tight)
The key? Being a stay at home mom and making living on one income a possibility really boils down to two main things:
- Cutting costs
- Being content living with (and on) less
If it were that simple, everyone would be doing it
It’s easy to look at that brief list and think, “if it were that simple, everyone would be doing it. There’s got to be more to it.”
Or maybe not.
If you are passionate and motivated enough to make staying home and living on one income a possibility for you and your family, I truly believe cutting costs and being content with less is what it takes, but let’s dig into that a bit more, because on the surface it doesn’t look like much.
But when you look into what “cutting costs” and “being content with less” truly means for you, it opens a big can of worms (and a smelly one, at that).
Cutting costs means sacrifice and being content with what you have is the opposite of keeping up with the Joneses.
Every person and family’s situation is different. Everyone’s finances are different, everyone’s lists of wants and needs are different, and everyone’s idea of “barely making it by” is different.
The following list of ways to afford being a stay at home wife is a practical list that just about anyone can use, regardless of their situation, to cut costs and make living off of one income a possibility, so that you, the mom, have the opportunity to pour your heart and soul into your child’s life.
How to Afford Being a Stay at Home Mom, 13 Tips to Make Living on One Income Possible
Before we get to the 13 tips to make being a stay at home mom possible, there is one very important step every person considering leaving their job to stay home must do:
Assess. Your. Spending. Habits.
The first thing you can do on your journey to becoming a stay at home mom is to evaluate your family’s spending habits.
Do this by going over all your bank and credit card statements. Print off the past 3 months of statements and thoroughly pick apart each and every month.
- Write down the number of times – and amount of money wasted – you (or someone in your family) ate out.
- Track “fun” purchases, such as any unessential shopping (ie, non-grocery shopping).
- Write down how much money you spend on groceries every month.
- See how much you spend on gas.
- Add up how much money is spent on fun little trips.
Then, tally up all the money spent. (Now, try to lift your jaw up off the floor after you see the number.)
All the money that is wasted on these unessential wants is money that, with some strategic planning, can be kept in your bank account in the months to come.
This exercise simply gives you a shocking idea of how much money is wasted every month, usually without you even noticing it. (And, should motivate you to make some major changes to stop spending this much money, especially if your goal is to be a stay at home mom.)
Next, you’ll need to have a crystal clear idea of exactly how much money is spent on bills every month.
These are bills such as utilities, rent/mortgage, insurance, necessary gas (to get to and from work), taxes. And also the “just for fun” bills such as cable and subscriptions.
After doing this exercise of looking at your spending habits, you now know how much money is getting wasted each month on things that are nowhere near necessary (and will allow you to make a plan to cut this spending). And you also know how much money you need to bring in every month, at a minimum, to cover the essential bills like a mortgage, insurance, utilities, etc.
Now, on to the tips to becoming a stay at home mom and make living on one income possible!
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13 Tips to Become a Single Income Family
1. Cut costs on bills
You would be amazed how much money you can save every single month simply by making a few calls.
Now that you know what bills are eating up your money (by completing the very important step we talked about above), you can call those companies and ask for reduced rates. You can start by shopping around for new car insurance and calling your utility companies and ask if there are any reduced rates from when you signed up (and if not, make some calls to other utility companies to compare prices).
In addition, request a lower interest rate on your credit cards (or, better yet, chop those credit cards up and go strictly to debit and cash).
Then after you’ve dealt with the essential bills, look at any other monthly bills you’re paying and consider eliminating them (cable, magazine, or online subscriptions, etc.).
Once you start and start seeing the money staying in your bank account instead of giving it away to these companies, you’ll be a money-saving and deal-chasing machine!
2. Lower grocery costs
Another area to cut costs is on groceries, and meal planning paired with flyer shopping is the best way to do that. Rather than going into the grocery store with no direction, make a meal plan at home (plan a minimum of enough meals for a week or two, and up to three or four weeks at a time), create a grocery list from your meal plan, and when you go shopping, follow that list.
Don’t stray away from your list, don’t go down aisles that you don’t need to, and certainly don’t get sucked in by the sales that “promise” to save you money but require you to spend more to save just a little bit.
If you really want to see big savings on your groceries, wait for the grocery flyer to come out then make a meal plan based on the items that are on sale that week (but again, don’t buy things that are unneeded, just because they’re on sale).
If you don’t have that much time on your hands, I have found great success by using a meal planning service – this is the exact one I use – that picks and plans your meals for you, every day and every week of the month.
Thanks to meal planning, we’ve been able to see savings of upwards of $300 a month on our grocery bill alone.
3. Stop eating out
Another money pit is restaurants. Grabbing a quick bite to eat or sitting down for a nice sit-down meal with the family quickly adds up.
If you plan on slashing grocery spending by meal planning, meal planning will also eliminate the temptation to eat out as often, because now you know what you’re making for dinner every night of the week so there’s no more of the “what’s for dinner? I don’t know, let’s just go out”.
Another way to stop eating out so much is to start packing a lunch (or, if you’ve been able to start staying home already, pack a lunch for your husband) for at work, as well as making coffee at home. Not only does buying coffee out add up, but it also opens up the door for additional purchases like a donut, sandwich, or something else, since you’re right there getting a coffee anyway.
4. Stop wasting food
As you can see, a big part of cutting costs and saving money is food-related. (We’ll move on to others avenues of saving money so you can be a SAHM after this one, I promise!)
Lowering your grocery bill, limiting eating out, and using up food before it goes bad all play into saving money every month.
Getting savvy at using up leftovers and making sure the produce in the fridge gets used up before it starts to rot will help you stretch your groceries further than you thought you could, and will save a lot of money because you won’t go shopping as often since you’re stretching the food that you have and using up every last bit of it.
(This is another reason why I think meal planning is such a great thing – we waste FAR less food.)
5. Rethink your vehicles
No one wants to be told they have to give up their brand new SUV they’ve only been driving around for two months, but when car payments are eating up your income, most times that can be the smartest thing you do.
If you sit down and look at how much money a month you’re pouring into vehicle payments, and then how much of that is going towards interest payments alone, it can make a lot of economical sense to get rid of car payments.
6. Rethink your living situation
If you’re paying monster mortgage payments every month, it may be time to think about downgrading or moving to a cheaper area. When my husband and I decided to become a single-income family and pinch our pennies to enable me to become a stay at home wife and mom, we knew we would never live in a mansion.
And we are okay with that.
We are okay living with less so that we can enrich our lives and the lives of our children by making it possible for me to stay home.
7. Stay out of stores
You can’t spend your money if you don’t go to the store (or don’t visit the website). Avoid going to stores and malls “just for fun” or “just to browse”. Because more than likely, you’ll end up spending a lot more money than you would have had you just stayed out of the store altogether.
If shopping is your guilty pleasure, find something (more economical) to replace it. Like walks in the park, coffee at a friend’s house while you watch the kids play in the backyard, or making lists (meal plans, garden plans, anything).
Whenever you feel the urge to go shopping, replace it with something else you enjoy and keep that money in your bank account.
8. Learn to be content
Discontentment is the thief of money (and joy). Learning to be content with the things that you have (and realizing you likely have much more than you need) will enrich your life.
Living a life trying to keep up with the Joneses gets exhausting, and it’s ruthless on your budget.
Learn to be content with and grateful for the things you have.
Whether you choose to use a paper budgeting system like this one or you use a budgeting app like EveryDollar, budgeting will help you keep track of your spending as well as know exactly how much money you have to spend each month, so you don’t start the month out feeling on top of the world and end it with pennies left in your bank account.
Surprisingly enough, being dedicated to a budget can help you drop an income (so you can become a stay at home mom) and save money every month if you budget and plan strategically (and stop spending money just for fun).
10. Find cheap ways to have fun
This may mean that date night is no longer dinner and a movie, but rather a picnic dinner in the backyard or coffee together (with coffee made at home) as you walk down a nature trail.
When looking for entertainment for the whole family, do a quick search of free activities in your area, you may be surprised by the number of things you can do that will get you all out of the house and having fun, all without paying a dime.
Libraries are also a great way to find free activities for kids. Many libraries offer mommy and me classes, storytime for kids, and more. This can be a great way to get out of the house without spending a dime.
11. Utilize buy and sells
We have been able to save a lot of money by buying a lot of our stuff used. For instance, our couches are not the prettiest sight to look at – but they are some of the comfiest couches you’ll ever sit on, and we got them for a steal of a deal, second hand.
I also try to buy any kid’s clothes that we need second-hand from buy and sells or people I know with kids older than my own. This way I can get a whole bundle of clothes (everything we need) for one bargain price, rather than buying each piece individually and paying much much more for it.
12. Order groceries online
This works for some people, but for others it actually causes them to spend more money, so make sure you know yourself and know when to admit that this money-saving tactic doesn’t work for you if it’s causing you to spend more money on groceries than you would by physically shopping in the store.
But, if this works for you, ordering your groceries online and picking them at the store is a great way to save money, because you’re not tempted by the in-store “can’t miss” deals, nor are you tempted to walk down aisles that you don’t need anything from (and risk putting items in your cart that you don’t really need).
However, it is easy to get very “click-happy” and start scrolling through all the products on the store’s website and add unnecessary items to your cart, so you do have to have the self-control to be able to save money with this tip.
13. Make money from home
If you’ve assessed your family’s spending, cut costs, crunched all the numbers, and still can’t quite seem to make it work, consider finding some sort of job that you can do from home.
Making money from home could be anything from becoming a writer for a blog to selling products on Etsy.
Some ways to make money from home could be:
- Running a day home
- Becoming a content writer
- Starting your own blog
- Creating and selling your products online
- Being a virtual assistant
One of the biggest struggles with working from home is finding time to work with kids underfoot. I’ve got 11 pretty fail-proof ways to find time to work at home when you’re a mom. Click here to learn them.
How to Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom When Money is Tight: Conclusion
When it comes down to it, if you truly are passionate about becoming a stay at home mom, there should be a way that you can make it work. Even if that means working for a bit more time while you put extra money aside to ensure you will be able to make it on one income.
Another great tip for being a stay at home mom and living off of one income is to live like you only have one income, even when you’re still a dual-income household.
Meaning, when you’re still working, start budgeting so that you live solely off of your husband’s income. This will give you a few months to tinker around with the budget to find something that works. Once you’re able to go several months without touching your income, you should be set to leave your job to stay home with your kids. And, in the meantime, you just stockpiled a bunch of money into your savings account. Bonus!
Do you have some ideas?
I’d love to know what your best tips for learning how to afford to be a stay at home mom are! Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.