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Whether you're pregnant and contemplating staying at home with your new baby or you already have small children and feel the pull to be a SAHM, the question of finances always arises. I think one of the first things people think is "How will we make it work financially?". When thinking about staying home, I had the same question in my head.
Honestly, not everyone can afford to. Especially if your spouse's income won't cover even your bare bones budget. But for most of us, you can make it work if you really want to, even on a low income. My husband is a teacher and we all know how they don't get paid enough. But we do make it work, and fairly easily.
First, look through your budget... Then look again
This is really the first step toward figuring out if you can afford to stay home. You can use websites like Mint.com in order to integrate your accounts together and create a budget for yourself. You can also create an Excel spreadsheet or use printable budget worksheets. Any way you do it, though, you NEEEEEED to take a look at where all your money is going.
To be frank, I didn't really stick to any type of budget when I was working. My husband and I made decent incomes at the time, but we were spending WAY more than we needed to. Which really made it hard to visualize how on earth we were going to make it work on just his income.
Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses
I think this is a big one that some people don't think they are actually doing. You may think because you aren't buying high dollar clothes, going out on the town every night, and buying million dollar homes that you aren't trying to have the latest and greatest. Or that your budget is as low as it can get.
Do you have a $100 cable plan, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services all at the same time? That's a ton of money going into TV entertainment that you don't really need. We have Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime with an internet connection and we could really go lower if we needed to.
We also don't buy clothes unless we need them and I always take hand-me-downs for my boys. Honestly, I still have some shirts I still wear from college and that was over a decade ago. If you want to take clothes out of your budget, ask for gift cards to your favorite places to buy clothes for Christmas and birthdays.
Look at your grocery reciepts
Do you spend $200 at the grocery store every week for just you, your husband and your toddler? You're most likely buying a ton of food you don't need, not only for your budget, but for your health as well. For our family of 4 (My 6'4 husband, myself, our preschooler and toddler), I usually spend $75-$100 a week on groceries. We buy a ton of fresh fruits/veggies, have meat 2 or so times a week, and snack on fruits/veggies or homemade yogurt I make in the Instant Pot.
Many times, I know I would buy things not on my list before I was staying home because they were new or on sale. At the time, it was just the 2 of us and a toddler. There were weeks I was spending $150 or more for essentially 2.5 of us. Plus we were eating out 2-3x a week on top of that!
I like to use Ibotta when grocery shopping as well. While we don't buy many boxed/bagged food, you still can get some fairly good coupons. Just don't throw your receipt away until you upload it!
Also, make a meal plan and stick to it. Make meat a compliment to your meal instead of the main event. Have beans and rice different ways. Have sandwiches and salads for lunch. Get your spouse to take leftovers for lunch at work.
Need help with meal planning? Sign up here to get your free meal plan and grocery list printable!
Cook at home and stop eating out so much
This one can be difficult for a lot of people. I know it's hard when things are so hectic and you're running kids here and there. BUT... You do have an alternative. Driving through the drive thru may sound like a super easy alternative than eating at home, but it's costing you a ton of money. As a family of 4, it's hard to eat out for under $20. For just one meal. If you're doing that 3-4x a week, that's $60-$80 extra a week, or upwards of $240 a month, on eating out.
Same for your spouse and lunches. Yes, it may be easy for him to just grab something on his lunch break. But his $5-$8 a day lunch habit is costing you a ton of extra money. Packing a lunch may still not be "cool" as an adult, but brown bag that meal! Your wallet will thank you in the end.
Stop going to Target!!!
Yeah, I've got your attention now! How dare I tell you to stop going to Target!? It's every mom's haven. What I mean here is that you don't necessarily have to stop going to Target all together, because let's be real here. It's Target, enough said!
But... I did stop going to Target. Every. Single. Week. It was a nice trip out of the house every week and you can always find a good deal. But let's face it. It's HARD to not spend money at Target. Something is always on sale, or in the clearance rack. Or just plain awesome and you or your family NEEDS it.
It's a money trap. If I can get out of Target for less than $30, it's a miracle. There is a ton of "Oooo... I need this" or "It's 80% off!" and before you know it, you've spent $50 when all you went in to get was Pull-ups. And you feel guilty but then do it all over again the next week.
I now only go about once a month and try to keep the spending while there to a minimum. Because let's face it. I'd buy all the things if left to my own devices with an unlimited budget. You know you would too!
Maybe Target isn't your jam. But I bet there is at least one store in your queue that you spend a ton of money at that you don't need to. Stop going there so much. Pay in cash if you have to and only take money in that you can spend. Either way, cut the shopping down!
Sell your extra stuff
Kids have too many toys? You have too many clothes that you never wear? Sell it! Between Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and good ol' garage sales, sell the stuff you don't need anymore. Once you start going through things, you'd be surprised at how much stuff we tend to accumulate and never get rid of.
Don't be afraid to let things go. If you haven't touched or thought about it in the last 6 months- 1 year, chances are, if you haven't done anything with it in that time period, you probably won't ever use it again.
Do you live in a big city with public transportation? You could become a 1 car family. Your husband could utilize public transportation and you could keep your vehicle for you and the children. Some families keep one car. Dad drives to work and mom and the kids make it work at home through the day. Again, it boils down to what you are willing to do to stay home.
Downsize your home
This is a hard thing for a lot of people. We tend to form attachments to our homes. But if you have a 3,500 sqft home with an astronomical mortgage payment, downsizing to a smaller home would help you significantly.
We actually did the opposite after I started staying home. We were living in a large city with very high property taxes. Our home was 1,274 sqft and our lot was under 7,000 sqft. We ended up moving to be closer to family and for a new job for my husband.
But the community we moved to is a small city and our property taxes are less than half of what they used to be because we also don't live in the city limits. So we were actually able to buy a bigger house on a half acre lot and cut our mortgage payment by about $500/month. That's a ton of money in savings!
This is probably one of the hardest things to do, but it is helpful on your budget if you are living above your means. Research neighborhoods where you live and what homes are going for in those areas. See what resources are around those neighborhoods along with crime rates, schools, churches, etc. If your mortgage is putting your budget well over what you could afford on one income, it's worth looking into.
Get a side hustle
Plenty of SAHM's now have some sort of side hustle. Whether you are selling something from a company, selling your own crafts on Etsy or Amazon, or whatever, extra income is always a plus. Some moms will also still work part time or work from home in order to bring in an extra income.
You can use survey sites to make a little extra cash. These sites also let you cash in for gift cards, which can also be helpful with your grocery budget. Ebates is also a great option if you do a lot of online shopping!
I may be partial, but starting a blog is also an option. If you love writing, creating, etc, it's really an awesome side hustle to have. I have been blogging for almost a year now. Although you don't make money overnight, no matter what you may read online, I have started finally making a little money and I love what I'm doing.
Recently, I purchased Pinterest Ninja from Megan of Love Family Health. I'm not lying you guys, it has done WONDERS for my blog (a post detailing my results can be found here) Not only am I starting to see growth in traffic, but also income. If you are wanting to start a blog as a side hustle, I highly recommend investing in at least 1 course in your first few months. I really regret not doing this sooner for my blog! As they say, you have to spend money to make money!
No matter if you end up staying home or continuing to work, either away from home or at home, looking over your finances is always a good thing. I've never been able to take the course, but Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover is an amazing resource in helping you get out of debt and making your money work for you. I read it a couple of years ago and it's a great way to get started on getting your finances together, even if you aren't in debt. We weren't in debt when I read the book, but using his tactics on your finances are incredibly helpful.
In the end, if you are wanting to stay home and you and your spouse are on the same page, find a way to make it work! If it's still working part time from home or selling a car/home or even just couponing and sticking to a strict budget, make your money work for you so you can stay home with your kiddos if that is your dream!
Are you a SAHM? What helped you be able to stay home and stay afloat financially? Like what you read? Give this post a share with your friends!
If you are looking to start a blog, you can check out my post on how I got mine started here. If you want to self host, check out SiteGround. They are AMAZING and I cannot say enough good things about them and their customer service! Also, check out Pinterst Ninja to get your blog going fast!