Are you thinking of staying home with your kids but not sure how to make it work? The thought of surviving on one income may seem absolutely impossible to some – but its easier than you think! It just takes some planning.
A few years ago, we were going through a financial crisis. I’d just had a baby and suddenly our world had been turned upside down. The cost of daycare was absolutely insane, and I felt so guilty leaving my infant son in the care of someone else.
And thus, it was decided. I would stay at home. Full Disclosure: I can’t say this was totally one income because once in awhile, I did some freelance work for extra cash. But with me not working anymore, our income was cut drastically.
I’m not gonna lie, it was hard at first. It requires making sacrifices and a huge attitude adjustment. But eventually, we made it through and learned a few things along the way.
Start by creating a budget
Okay, so this is obvious, right? Well maybe not. Tons of my friends and family have confessed to me that they don’t have a budget. This is essential to make it on one income. When I became a stay at home mom, I started following Dave Ramsey. I read the Total Money Makeover, joined the groups and started creating sinking funds and a zero-based budget.
I’ll admit, I don’t follow Dave Ramsey religiously but I learned a lot from his program. If you are getting started with budgeting, or just want to try something new – I’d totally recommend it! You can even listen to it on audible if you prefer audiobooks. I’ve done both.
Dave Ramsey says budgeting is “telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” If you only have one income, you really need to be telling your money where to go.
Eliminate Unnecessary Services
Another obvious one, but it’s often overlooked. Before deciding to stay at home, I never actually looked at transactions in my bank account. (Yikes! I know.) I had transactions for countless subscription boxes and services that I didn’t even really use.
Take one day off to look through all of your bank transactions, and eliminate all of these items. These days, I make sure to check my transactions at least once a week in detail. Only you can decide what is worth keeping.
Recently, I was subscribed to Freshly Picked (for about a year) but found that I rarely ever actually purchased anything. I cut this out. Ipsy, and Birchbox are definitely heavy offenders in this category.
Purchase items in bulk
Think about items you use often and can save on by purchasing in bulk. Great examples of this are paper towels, toilet paper, dry goods – think pasta or nuts. Items you will definitely use, but will last a long time.
You can purchase bulk items in stores like Bulk Nation or even online on Amazon. There’s always BJ’s, Sam’s or Costco but these stores do have membership fees that may not be worth it for you unless you have a larger family.
Cook at home and try meal prepping
When I was staying home, we almost never ate out. I remember when I first started creating my budget. I was horrified at the fact that I had spent THOUSANDS of dollars eating out. Changing our eating habits and cooking at home already saved us tons of money.
Spending $8 on a fast food run may seem harmless but after a year that’s almost $3,000!
Moms are definitely one of the busiest people. I’m most likely to eat out if I’m running low on time. Meal prepping is great for days when everything is just go-go-go. Try creating a batch of freezer meals for these busy days. If you don’t have time to cook then you always know you have a backup plan.
This all requires some planning, and yes – it’s going to be overwhelming at first but it will save you tons of money.
Cut down on cable or utilities
We live in a time and age where you don’t really need cable. Netflix and Hulu have a ton of shows to watch but even a subscription to SlingTV or YouTube TV will give you a ton of variety and don’t require long term contracts or equipment.
I cut the cable cord and saved almost $100 a month. That’s money that can go somewhere else. Shop around for a better deal, you never know where you could be saving. This goes for everything – car insurance, phone plans, and utilities!
Don’t pay full price
You can easily purchase something secondhand on OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace. A lot of these items are gently used and will last you a long time while saving you quite a bit of cash.
I purchased a high chair for my son for $30 when the original price was $149. I couldn’t believe it because the chair was in pristine condition. We need to get out of the mindset that everything needs to be new and buying secondhand isn’t good enough.
Also, buy generic brands. A lot of the generics in stores are the same exact things that are in the name brand for a few dollars less.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, give yourself some grace. This season of your life won’t last forever and it doesn’t need to be perfect. You’ll make mistakes, budget incorrectly, and have unexpected issues come up. It’s okay, mama. You’ve got this!