It can seem an impossible task to go from a two family income, down to just one. I’ve had friends and acquaintances alike complain that it just can’t be done. It can be done and I’m here to give you some tips in the right direction.
Realizing that you must make a choice and a commitment to being a stay at home mom (SAHM) and all that it entails is the first thing you need to decide on. You may not be able to have everything you’re used to getting. If you realize that being home with your children is more important than anything else in the world, read on.
Sense of worth: Even the most committed SAHM can struggle with their sense of worth when they quit a high paying career or job to be a SAHM. For me, I quit a very good paying job and although I don’t regret it one bit I do have days where I feel a pinch of jealousy. Former co-workers will post on Facebook about their big raises or promotions and for glimmers of time I wonder if that could have been me. Being able to push thoughts of “what if’s” from your mind and focusing on being the best stay at home wife and mother you can be is far more rewarding. However, realizing that you are giving up something that is part of you can be hard. All you can do is accept this and if you cannot or feel you may be resentful, perhaps quitting your job is not for you.
Finances: The single biggest thing that holds women back from walking away from the corporate world to raise their kids is money. It seems that you barely get by with 2 incomes, how could you ever survive on just one? Cutting back on some of the extras is often times the difference between being able to stay home or not.
Compose 3 lists
Expenses that you MUST pay each month (See below for examples)
- Mortgage or Rent $1000
- Electricity or Gas $240
- Telephone $150
- Food $300
- Health Insurance / Medications / Co-pays $150
- Gas $300
- Auto Insurance $90
- Water, Trash or Sewer $160
- Household Items (soap, diapers, tp, home repair) $500
Your list may look different than the one above. Perhaps you have credit cards debt or student loans to pay. All of those type of things should be included on your MUST PAY list.
Things that you pay into each month for enjoyment or convenience (See below for examples)
- Cable TV $99
- Internet $40
- Newspapers $20
- Memberships (gym, zoo, ect.) $60
- New Clothing $50
- Eating Out $200
Again, your list may look different than the one above. The important thing is that you realize which items in your budget are not essential for you to live on. It may help to scroll down your bank statement and pinpoint every unnecessary dollar you spent. Coffee’s, movie rentals, that designer jacket – all those dollars really add up!
Compose a list of all your income sources that you will have AFTER quitting your job.
- Employment Pay $3450
- Child Support $50
Be sure to include all sources of income that you can depend on as being regular. Other income sources could include disability, royalties, settlement payments, ect – just don’t leave anything out.
Don’t rush through your lists. You want to make sure you don’t forget anything! Once you are confident you have included everything that should be on the above lists, its time to crunch some numbers! See below:
List 1 + List 2 ($2440+$469) = $2909 total monthly expenses (TME)
List 3 – TME ($3500 – $2909) = $591
The $591 above represents the amount of money left over in a month after paying for everything on list 1 & 2. It sure doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? Perhaps it’s not, but it is a formula in which you can use to see where you’d come out at the end of the month, relying on just one income.
What if I have a negative dollar amount left over at the end of the month? Luckily, this does not mean your dreams of being a SAHM are unreachable. List 2 is composed of things that you probably enjoy very much but they are optional expenses. Prioritize them and decide which ones will be first on the chopping block. Ouch! Yes, it does hurt to abolish all the things you’ve become used to. But again, this is about making choices and the commitment to doing whatever it takes to be where you want to be – at home with your kids.
Perhaps it’s easier to break down the amount of money you are actually making from your job. It might not be as much as you think. Take your net income (the amount you actually bring home) and minus all the expenses that go along with working:
Net Salary: $2000
Expenses that are a direct result of being employed. (See below for examples)
- Gas to & from work $150
- Eating lunch out $60
- Child care $800
- Miles & maintenance on vehicle $30
- Work clothing $50
- Office socials or pools (pooling money for birthdays, ect) $20
Minus your work expenses from your net salary as shown below…
$2000 – $1120 = $800
Can you believe a measly $800 is your profit? If $800 is standing between you being a career woman and a SAHM, it’s just not worth it. Look at list 2 for ways to cut your expenses to result in the bottom line never changing.
- Start by reducing your hours to part time and wean your family off of your income
- Work from home, there ARE legit WAHM opportunities
- Go hardcore – get rid of the 2nd or 3rd vehicles
- Cash out stocks / bonds / 401K to pay off the dept that’s keeping you at work
- Eat less, grow your own food
- Shop second hand stores for your clothing
- Trade, barter and FREECYCLE
- Downsize everything (house, cars and even your trash receptacle!)
- Vacations = stay-cations
Another huge money saver is to stop being a slave to consumerism. Looking around my home I see at least 50 items that at one point I felt I needed. Since becoming a SAHM and cutting down on expenses I’ve come to the conclusion that I DON’T NEED things such as:
- Dryer sheets (throw a ball of foil in there if you have static – lasts forever!)
- Paper towels
- Dish-washing booster type stuff (use vinegar instead – works great!)
- Hair color (until I start going gray)
- Stamps (online bill pay is our best friend)
- Fabric softener (admit it, it smells good, but it just feels gross!)
- Disposable plates, cups, utensils
- Weed killer (vinegar works great!)
That’s a list of just a few of the things I used to purchase regularly and now don’t. Guess what? I’ve survived! Ultimately, its up to you to decide what you are willing to give up in exchange for being home with your children.