While working there, I would frequently talk with other moms about my desire to be a stay at home mom. The usual response I would receive was, “I would stay home in a minute if I could afford it.” And I felt that way too…we just couldn’t afford for me to lose my paycheck.
However, I just couldn’t shake the desire to stay at home. So I began researching ways that would help me afford to come home.
What I found out first was that I wasn’t alone. There are many working women and men who want to come home. You may be one, but aren’t exactly sure how to make that transition. What my journey helped me discover is that there are ways to make this transition successfully.
Whether you want to be your own boss, stay at home with the kids, or just have the desire to wear pajamas all day, here are the top 5 ways to save so you can afford to be a stay at home mom:
1. Identify your Financial Situation
The first step in making a financial change is to understand what your current financial situation is. Completing a thorough investigation of your spending habits will help give you a good picture of your financial state. You can complete an analysis of your spending on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis, whichever works out best for you.
Start with identifying all of your assets, the things you own. How much do you have in your checking account? In your savings account? In your investment accounts? Then identify your sources of revolving debt, like credit cards, student loans, or other loans. Next, determine what your living expenses are, such as utilities, groceries, gas, phone, mortgage, insurance, etc.
Putting all of these items down on paper is a great way to analyze where your money is going. To better track this information, you may get a ledger notebook, type it on an Excel spreadsheet, or, if you have extra money, you can purchase software that will help you in tracking and reporting your income and expenses. Creating this analysis will help you identify areas that you could cut out, cut back or allocate more wisely.
This process may take you awhile to complete, but it is a very important step in creating your success plan to becoming a stay at home mom. Once you complete this analysis, you are ready to move on to the next step in the process.
2. Whittle Down Debt
The second step to becoming a Savvy Saver is to eliminate your debt as far as possible. One good place to start is to track your spending habits. This will give you a good idea of where your money is going and where you could possibly cut corners. According to an article in Suite101.com, the best place to start is with your dining out and grocery expenses. Try tracking these expenses for one month. Keep your receipts and write down these expenses or track them using an Excel spreadsheet. If you have money to invest, there are also bill-paying software packages that automatically track these expenses for you.
At the end of the month, review your report to see where you can trim expenses. Could you eat at home more often and save on dining expenses? Can you consolidate your trips to the grocery store and spend less? Look for frivolous expenditures and eliminate these from your spending. Next month, track another expense or two and work your way through all of your expenditures. You’re sure to find areas you can cut and save.
Once you know where your money is going, you need to tell it where to go. You do this by creating a budget. Itemize your expenses by level of priority and establish how much you can spend for each area. Be sure to include payments for all debt. Allocate all of your money on paper before paying any bills or spending any money. Stick to your budget every month and you’ll see progress.
3. Reduce Expenses
Daily and monthly living expenses are areas that can really be cut down. By being creative and willing to change your current shopping habits, you can really reduce your living expenses significantly.
For your health care needs, consider alternatives like affordable health benefits through discount medical benefits companies. With this type of plan, you can save up to 80% on dental and medical services. A few plans also include vision, prescription and chiropractic services as well.
Review your insurance policies with your agent. Would term insurance make sense for you? Could you recognize significant savings by switching to a term policy? Also, do you already have “free” life insurance from other means, such as a credit union account? Do you have the right deductibles on your policies? Talk through all of these questions and others you create with your agent. You may find ways to reduce expenses and SAVE.
Savings clubs like Costco and Sam’s may also provide you with savings on certain items. Be sure to compare the per unit cost with other discount stores to ensure you’re getting the best price. There are also online savings programs for things like dining, shopping, recreation and travel. These programs can provide you with significant savings on things you purchase frequently.
4. Change Your Lifestyle
Changing your lifestyle might possibly be the most challenging for many. That is because it requires the most discipline. I knew that for me to be able to stay home with my kids after losing my income, my family would have to make some major lifestyle changes.
For one, I would have to cut out the frivolous shopping trips. I would also have to prepare more meals at home instead of dining out. Leftovers would need to become tomorrow’s lunch. We had to be open to downsizing our home or going down to one car. We had to be open to whatever it would take to all me to stay at home.
Some things you can consider to make coming home affordable are clipping coupons or shopping at discount stores. This alone can save you hundreds of dollars a month if done consistently. Consider creating your own cleaning supplies from low-cost, every day household items like lemon oil, baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon juice. These items are known to effectively clean and disinfect for 1/4 the cost of name brand cleaners. Also, become more conscious of power drainers like keeping cell phone chargers, TVs, and other electronics plugged in continuously. Look for ways to decrease gas usage by planning and consolidating trips, car pooling, or by creating driving “holidays”.
Be creative in thinking through ways you can change your lifestyle in order to bring you home faster. You’ll soon find that you can cut your household expenses and apply that savings to your “coming home” fund.
5. Find a Home Based Business
Steps 1 – 4 will definitely help you get closer to your goal. However, you might still need some additional money coming in to supplement the household income. You might consider a part-time job or starting a home based business to fill this need.
When considering a home based business, start by identifying the things you like to do and what things you do best. Perhaps you like to sew, then maybe making children’s clothing or doing alterations would be an ideal business for you. Or maybe you are a great baker or cook, then you might consider catering or selling your baked goods at farmer’s markets. Home cleaning services are also a great home based business to consider.
Now, if you’re like many people whose hobbies or strengths would not make ideal businesses (i.e., bowling or bike riding), then research work from home companies or businesses that are looking for independent representatives. Do your research and check out the Better Business Bureau reports if in doubt. There are some great, legitimate work from home companies out there which can help you reach your financial goals.
By applying the steps above, you will be better able to afford to be a stay at home mom. For additional resources, visit the Savvy Saver.
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