Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to financially be a stay at home mom

How we make it with me being a stay at home mom

I've been hearing a lot lately how people “want” to be stay at home moms, but they just can’t afford it. Well, this is my story of how we make it on one salary. Most of you may know my husband is a Police Officer. Police Officers do not make a lot of money. He also does not take extra shifts. Even though you can find out how much we make, I will not post that, but I will post that it is under 30k. We also don’t get help from the government. I am not on WIC and we don’t receive food stamps or Medicaid.

How we make it. Well, we wrote out all of our bills and decided what we could do away with. We had several different credit cards. Our first thing we did was start making over payments and paid off our credit card debt. We made over payments on one card at a time until it was paid off and then we went to the next. After that, we cancelled our cards.

Next on our list was our cell phone bill. Did we really need smart phones? Did we really need this many minutes? Did we ever use our insurance? For two phones our bill was $174ish. We brought it down to under $100. Then we looked at it again and compared to other companies until we found Straight talk. Unlimited data/talk/messaging for $45 a month per phone, score! The only problem was that it didn't pick up in small towns. We ended up getting put on with our parents and paying our bill that way. Then we just did away with having to pay for the master phone. Also, if you are a stay at home mom, do you need a smart phone? No. I went a year with a flip phone and did just fine. Do I love my iPhone? Yes, but I would live without it.
After that was internet/television. Did we really need television? No. We did away with television but kept internet and just used Netflix and we watched our TV shows online and just plugged our computers up to the TV. Very simple, very affordable.

Next thing was my hospital bill. Is there any way we can get the payments lowered? Yes! Then when we got Drew’s GI bill money we went ahead and paid off that bill.

Going out to eat. We added up how often we went out to eat and how much we spent. It was crazy! So now Drew takes his lunch to work and I cook dinner every night.

Sodas. Do we really need sodas? No. Sodas are fattening, addictive, turn your teeth yellow, and expensive. One soda a day per person for thirty days at around $1.60 each adds up. Now when we drink sodas it is a treat.  We mostly drink water and just tea at dinner. Not only is water free, but I lost 5 pounds by just drinking water only and no sodas.

Groceries. I want to state that until getting married, I didn't know how to cook. I could brown hamburger meat and microwave stuff, and that was about it. I have taught myself how to cook. I got on the computer and found cheap easy recipes. I wrote out the ingredients and added up what all I would need and made myself a budget. I learned that I could get by only spending $50 and under a week on groceries. I write out a list and stick to it. I notice so many people go to the store and just throw stuff in the cart. Do you really need cookies? Do you really need chips and beer? All these things are not necessities. My daughter has yet to have sweets. She has never had juice. She only drinks water and milk. There is no need for her to drink juice, it starts bad habits. She doesn't know what she is “missing out on” because she doesn't know about it. I also use coupons on the items I buy and I buy store brand products. When we have leftovers, we eat them. We only go out to eat once a month maybe as our “date night” and usually I have coupons for that!

Shopping. I will tell anyone that I love to shop, but shopping adds up. Also, did I really “need” anything I was buying? No. Because I was bored or mad I would go shopping. One thing we did was completely cut that out. Make a budget for frivolous shopping. Put aside how ever much you allot for that and keep it in an envelope. Keep it as cash that way you don’t start swiping away and go over budget. Also, think about what you purchase. Do you really need that North Face jacket? Is there a different jacket that is cheaper that you could buy instead? Do you really need 5 jackets? Or, if you do want that North Face just save up for it. I have stopped buying items my mother in law calls “frivolous.”  Yes, I hate that word, but it is the best word to use. Before I always wanted name brand and loved labels. Now, I shop on the clearance racks.

Diapers. I didn't cloth diaper this go around, but I did coupon and make my stock pile that way. Between Publix Baby Club and the deals Walgreens does and Walmart price matching, I have never paid full price for diapers. Kroger even puts their Huggies wipes on the 10 for $10 and you can use a $0.50/1 coupon which doubles to $1 off making them free! For baby food I remember buying 30 cans for under $5. I just stacked Publix coupons with manufacture coupons and sale prices. Walmart will also take Publix coupons! For Selah's clothes, if I buy her clothes I buy them off the clearance racks. We also bought all her newborn clothes from one of my friends. I don’t buy boutique outfits and I even make some of her stuff.

Movies. I love going to the movies, but not only do we have to pay for a babysitter, but the tickets are steadily going up on price, and I will want a drink and a snack. So we don’t go to the movies but maybe once or twice a year. Beside the fact that I don’t trust but a select few of people to watch my daughter, there are other things I would rather do when going on a date with my husband. Since I normally don’t get one on one time alone with him, I don’t want to spend it in a dark theater where I have to be quiet. I want to be able to joke and flirt with him.

Another thing my husband and I have talked about is vehicles. Do we really need two vehicles? I have a babysitting job M-F 8-6 everyday, so during those hours I don’t leave the house. My husband should be getting a take home car soon, so that will help out tremendously. If you are a stay at home mom, you don’t need a car. A car would be a luxury. If the child has a Dr. appointment that day, then take your husband to work and pick him up from work. My husband just recently started car pooling to work to save on gas. Doing away with one car could save you a car payment, a tag fee every year, and insurance per month. Those things add up. For us, that would be about $400 extra a month. Also, if you do need two cars, try to get rid of a car payment. Sell one car and buy a used Corolla or something good on gas and as we call it, “a grocery getter.”

Every month I make a list of our bills and separate them between our two paychecks. I put the date they are due and the amount that is due. Once I pay them I put a star beside it. I then see how much extra money we have to “live” off of. How much do we have for gas and groceries and how much do we have for fun. At first, we were tight. Some months we didn't have extra money, but we learned to adapt.

Recently I started watching a newborn in my home, and that has helped me bring in money without having to send Selah to daycare. I just use that money for groceries and what money we would have used from Drew’s check for groceries we use towards paying extra on our home and some for savings.

Do I think that all mothers should be stay at home moms? Heck no! Sometimes it is in the child's best interest if they went to school/daycare rather than staying with the parent. Also, I am not ignorant to the fact that some people really can't stay at home.

In order to be a stay at home parent, you and your spouse both have to want it to work out. Does it suck only having one income with no extra money for 5k runs or shopping sprees? Yes. However, I would much rather be the influence my child receives. I would rather be the person who helps build her personality, who sees her crawl, walk, and talk for the first time. Luckily enough for me, my husband wants the same thing I do. It does suck not being able to go out to eat all the time, or get those cute sandals they have out, or go see Luke Bryan in concert, or be able to go out with friends and spend money, but never would I trade me staying at home for that. After a while, I've stopped wanting those things I once wanted. Now when Selah and I have our Dollar Store trips, I either buy for her or buy for my home. It is hard for me to spend money on myself.

I guess what I am trying to say with all this, is look at what you are spending and think about how much of that is a necessity vs. a want. My husband and I may not have a lot of money, but it is so rewarding to know that not only are we not in credit card debt, but that we are happy with how things are.

July 2, 2015

     Hello. I have had a few questions and requests for an update on my SAHM situation so here is a quick one. I just want to say that I am still a stay at home mom. We now have now paid off another car, a 2007 Toyota Matrix. I used my babysitting money and paid it off within 6 months. A year later I sold my 2006 Mustang and bought a 2015 Mazda CX-5 and have been making over payments on it. It should be paid off within a year. Also, selling the Mustang lowered our insurance by a whopping $1!
    My husband has had several promotions at work and now has a take home car. We really don't need two vehicles, a take home car, and a motorcycle. However, the way we save money and don't spend it, we were able to afford a brand new car and it is so nice to have a larger vehicle that is great on gas, 35MPG! We recently just drove it cross-country to Idaho and into Canda. (I'll blog about that later) 
   I am still watching kids in my home to bring in play money. I use my money to make the Mazda payment and it is also paying for our trip to Disney this fall. One thing we do is never think of my money as income. We never know if one day the parents decide to enroll their kids in daycare (it has happened) or move (this has also happened) since I am not dependent on the money it doesn't matter if I watch kids or not. It is nice to have the extra income, but if something happens it won't put us in a bind. I have seen where friends who also watch kids have become dependent on the money and will go out and get a $400 car payment. Next thing they know the child they watch is moving so they then have to struggle to find a way to pay for the vehicle. Just be very cautious with this. 
   We still don't have Cable. My husband did buy a $30 antenna and so now we get a good bit of channels. We still have Netflix and also Hulu. My mother has Comcast so she gave me her info for Xfinity on Demand which is nice. That way I am able to watch my shows the next day and some channels I can watch live. 
     My husband now has a work phone so we did away with his smart phone to save us $75 a month. Instead of cancelling his phone we just hooked up an old flip phone so he keeps his number in case he ever decides to leave the department.
      My cooking skills have greatly improved. I now have a dry erase calendar on my pantry door and I plan out the meals we will have for the entire month. I have noticed that from doing this I have cut our grocery bill down drastically. It is also a lot less stressful because I don't have to stress over what we will eat that day. I now rotate my meals so it is pretty simple. Plus since learning how to cook rather than heat meals up, that has also saved us money. 
       Now that my daughter is older, almost 4, we have been doing a lot of hiking/camping. In all honesty, we went through a very rough time when we were doing nothing but paying off debt and saving money. We became depressed with just staying home all the time. I am so glad that we are able to go camping whenever we want since it doesn't cost very much at all. We have all our camping equipment so now we just pay for the campsite and we bring food from home. Nothing like spending $30 for a weekend away with my family. We have also taken advantage of all the free/cheap activities Savannah has to offer. Once a week I take the girls to storytime at the Library and then we go play on the softplay at the mall. We go exploring the squares downtown or take a beach day. I joined a moms group and through that I am able to find tons of things to do around the area. I have also made a lot of friends through the group. If you are a stay at home mom, definitely join a free moms group. 
     I hope this answered the questions you all had. If you have anymore please feel free to comment with your question and email and I will get back to you. 


  1. YEAH ! Love this ! you have such a cute family !

  2. I watch my pennies, too! Every one counts. I started making soap and for the initial investment of about $25, I could make about 25 bars of soap. After that, you only have to buy the raw soap which is about $10 a container. I eventually figured out that I was making a full size bar of soap for around $.25 a bar. the fun thing is that you can custom make them into the scents and shapes you want. Some of my favorites are spiced chai scented (just open a bag of the tea and mix it in) Vanilla (extract), and lavender (essential oil). The fun shapes are great for kids - making them want to take a bath! It's so easy and all supplies can be found at Micheal's in the soap/candle making section. The brand is "life of the party".

    And I really want you to help me with the couponing. :) I need to start that soon!!

  3. Wow, Latricia, thay made me realize how poorly we budget money. I havealways cut coupons but nvr remembered to use them. And id love to make a grocery list for about 50$ a week. Idk how to do that exactly w my son. One thing I have done since having him is not spend money on myself unless it is cookies or ice cream. Shame on me. I think when joe gets home I will talk to him about everything u've written. Thanks for posting this :-)