In this economy, it may seem impossible to afford to be a stay at home mom. With rising costs, less jobs, and higher bills, it may not make sense to try to live on one income, and what with the world constantly blasting in your ears that you’ll never make it, how is it even possible to stay home with your kids? I stand here today to tell you it is SO possible. As a single stay-at-home-mom, I can prove it, and with a little bit of creative planning and a few lifestyle changes, you can too!
8 Tips for Affording to live on One Income
In this article, I’m going to give you the most foundational, basic principles you will need to adopt to live on one income, and if you’d like more of the nuts and bolts how it’s all possible with step-by-step directions, please join my newsletter.
The first thing you’ll want to do is…
Start saving for an emergency fund in case your husband loses his job, his pay is cut, he gets injured, etc. While this is sound advice for a 2-income home, it is even more prudent in a 1-income household. You absolutely must have a savings account for emergencies. Especially for like in my case. My income is so unstable. One month I’m rich, the next, I have nothing. I had to learn real quick how to live with highly inconsistent paychecks.
Start living more frugally
I love this era in our economy. Even the very affluent people in our nation are saving money. People are becoming more and more educated on how to live more frugally, yet, still most of us spend excessively at times. The truth is, you CAN live a very good life frugally. How I pay for all my fancy smancy stuff is by NOT paying for some of the basics that others are. This frees up my money like you wouldn’t believe so that I can have all that I want and more. The truth is, that while I spent most of my career in the financial world and know how to budget very well, I rarely budget my bills. I don’t spend frivolously, I rarely buy things, and when I do, I know the money is there. Why? Because I’ve become so good at conditioning myself to not want everything I see, and in turn, not buy everything I want.
As a result, there are few things that I truly want in my life, and if I want something, I buy it. For you, this may mean starting on a smaller scale just like I did when I first started. Not buying new clothes when you don’t need them, not buying the newest gadgets when you don’t need them, and not eating out as often as you like (that was a huge one that used to suck up a LOT of my money each month!) Cutting out some expenses that are unnecessary will often open up a lot of room in most people’s budgets, and I would definitely suggest having a budget.
This is one of the hardest ways to become stable on a 1-income household. It means taking an honest look at where your money is going and creating a budget for your spending. Could you do without Netflix? How about that $10 charge that is going through your bank account each month for who knows what. Call and find out what it is and get rid of it. Place all your bills in a pile and decide which ones you can actually cut. For me, it’s pretty simple. I like internet, I like the fastest highest speed internet available, so I pay extra for that. I also like my satellite T.V. so I pay extra for that. I like my iPhone, okay, that’s more of a love. lol. But outside of those 3 bills, I do NOT have any other irregular bills, just utilities. I don’t have debt because I am determined to pay cash for everything, even large purchases. So, my bills are pretty simple and pretty basic, and I like it that way. Yours may not be so simple. The goal is prioritizing and trying to figure out what you really don’t need. I mean, really, are you really ever going to use that gym membership? Why not get a treadmill and put it in your garage and save some money! Again, eating out is another HUGE money sucker.
Negotiate on your bills
You may not realize it, but many places that you pay money to, may be willing to work with you on coming up with a better amount to pay that will fit your budget. Look into this option and see how much you can cut. I know for me, a lot of times I will call a company and just blatantly ask, okay, how can I save money on this? Sometimes they will not tell me. Most times they will. When they don’t tell me, I call right back again, and get someone who WILL tell me. It could be as simple as paying a 6 month car insurance policy all at once, which I do, and it saves me $48/year. That is almost my whole T.V. bill right there. One month free T.V. every year. Oh yeah!
Now, imagine doing that with everything and you are literally saving a lot. Then, once you know a company’s policy, you won’t likely be ripped off the next time some sales guy calls you and tells you that YOU NEED to upgrade your plan. Not if you know the rules. This also saves you a lot of money!
Something as simple as coming up with a meal plan can really help you cut hundreds of dollars a year off your food budget. Meal planning is the easiest act of deciding what you will be eating for the week (or month), and using leftovers, what you already have in your pantry and freezer, and a few bought items to work with. It is very good for those that don’t really know how much they are spending on groceries, to reign in some of that extra spending.
There are many 1-income households that rely heavily on coupons to allow them to stay home. In fact, you really can get free or nearly free food, household goods, beauty supplies, and personal care items with just the use of coupons and matching them with sales. If you are new to couponing, start reading blogs that deal with the subject as well as consider joining a class that may be near you. My favorite couponing site, the one that taught me most everything I know way back in the day, is FabulesslyFrugal. Although I rarely coupon anymore, it is a fantastic way to save an obscene amount of money each month. Just one tip, don’t go overboard. Don’t buy something you won’t use just because it’s cheap or free.
Don’t get any new debts
This means paying off your credit cards and not getting any more. It also means not taking on new loans of any kind. The less debt you have, the more income you have. It’s that simple.
If you can, downsize some things. If you have two cars, get rid of one (as long as it is paid off and makes sense to do so). If you rent, consider renting a smaller place if you can. Downsizing can often make a lot of sense if you can make it work for your lifestyle. In time, after you are great at saving money and living on one income is a breeze, you will be able to have more, but in the beginning, you have to downsize and get out of debt, get your finances in order and prioritize that you want to stay home with your kids, knowing there will be sacrifices to do so. In the end, it’s all worth it, I assure you. I’d rather have less than what I do and be home with my kids, than miss their lives working at some job. No matter how rewarding my career was before kids, nothing will ever compare!