When people find out I'm staying at home with Jenna, the first response I usually get is, "Wow, how do you afford to stay at home? I'd love to stay at home but we can't afford it."
I really do think that many people (of course not ALL people), but many people can afford to stay at home if they make some adjustments.
My husband does have a great job, but we are by no means rich. We aren't on any government assistance either. We just had to make some sacrifices and decisions that have allowed me to stay at home with our baby girl.
- We bought a home that doesn't stretch our income. Believe it or not, we only pay $500 per month for our mortgage! Before we got married we searched for a home that we could fix up. We got lucky and found a foreclosure in decent shape. While I was still working full-time we poured every extra penny in our home. We re-did the stucco, new windows, new texture inside, new flooring, and a new bathroom. We used our money from the first-time homebuyers tax credit to help with the renovations. Now we have a beautiful home and still a small mortgage. We could have purchased a brand new home with a $2,000 mortgage, but that would have made staying home a lot harder.
- We sold my brand new car. I only had my car for a year when we decided to get rid of it. We have a Toyota Tacoma that is paid off. It's not a brand new vehicle, but it's in great shape and gets me from point A to point B. We save $425 per month plus cost of insurance. We are lucky in that my husband's company pays for his new truck, an F150. We use his new vehicle on our family trips.
- I shop used. I found some great thrift stores in Albuquerque, my favorite being "Other Mothers." You can find baby stuff like walkers, toys, clothes for at least half off, if not more. Some of the cutest outfits Jenna has are from thrift stores. I even find myself some pretty good clothes.
- We sacrifice some luxuries. I am like the only person on the planet that doesn't have an iPhone. I don't have a smart phone because it saves us $40 a month for the data package. Before we had Jenna, we liked to take 1 or 2 vacations every year. Nothing extravagant, but we went to Vegas, San Diego, and our honeymoon in Cabo. Now we usually just make a trip out to AZ to visit my family or do a weekend trip somewhere close by. We also don't eat out as much - usually only 1 or 2 times per week.
- I work a few hours per week from home. I do not get rich doing this, but it helps a little. I make just enough to pay my student loans from my MBA program.
Other ways to save money:
- Get rid of internet, cable tv or both. You can probably save anywhere from $30-$100 per month.
- Don't grab Starbucks or other guilty vices. I used to grab a coffee 2-3 times per week...it adds up!
- Use coupons. I'm not an extreme couponer, but I do find some savings with coupons.
- Keep just one vehicle and/or carpool or use public transportation. This is harder when you are like me and live in a rural small community. But it's possible. Perhaps your husband can carpool with some people from work and only need the vehicle once a week. Or perhaps he can take public transportation. Also, many moms live within walking distance to several places.
- Think about money you save from not working: Paying a sitter/daycare (sometimes costs up to $600 per month), cost of fuel from commuting to work, buying work clothes, possibly eating out more for lunch/dinners.
Ways to Make Money From Home:
- Start babysitting/at home daycare. Someone once told me they make $5,000 per month with their at-home daycare.
- Ask your current employer about working from home. This is what I did. I never thought it would be a possibility until I asked. I don't usually do more than 10 hours per week, but I know several people that have full-time at home jobs.
- Start an at home business. There are plenty of women who've made a living with their Etsy stores online or other at-home businesses. If you have a craft or talent, you might be able to make a living doing it!
There are probably another 1,000 ways to make staying home possible. I think if you really want to do it, most people can find a way.
What helped convince me that I wouldn't miss my income is the fact that I am getting precious time with my little one that I would have missed out on. Oh well if we didn't buy a new bedroom set or take a cruise to the Bahamas...I have spent my daughter's entire first year with her. I wouldn't trade that for any amount of money!