People often ask how I can be a stay-at-home mom when we can barely afford it. “Rice and beans,” I tell them. “Rice and beans.”
But in all seriousness, to use the old cliche, when there is a will, there is often a way.
I won’t pretend it’s easy. My husband is a consultant for Jenny Craig and a really good one! But the pay is slim. He gets paid the twice a month, and some months, our pantry and fridge go bare before we can shop again.
Staying at home means that we wear our clothes until they wear out–or we grow out of them (ahem, baby weight?).
It means we don’t drive new cars, and, instead, we try to maintain the ones we do drive, so we can drive them as long as possible.
It means I skip most mom’s nights out and direct sales parties. And date nights might be coffee together instead of dinner and a movie.
It means we don’t take elaborate vacations–or vacations at all.
And you know what? That’s all OK. I get to spend every day at home with my babies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what are some practical ways we make it work? Check out these 5:
1. We live on a budget. Now, I’m not saying our budget is perfect. In fact, it’s often a monthly struggle to stick to it. But once money in one category is gone, it’s gone.
If I’ve used up all the grocery money by the 15th of every month, then I’ve got to get creative and feed the family from the pantry and freezer for the rest of the month. If gas is running low, I may have to say no to a play date and stay home instead.
And we absolutely do not use credit cards We have no debt, and we have no interest in acquiring any. We simply cannot afford to get into debt!
2. We buy used (or on sale).
I’ll admit that I hope we eventually can buy some things new, but, for the most part, CRAIGS LIST!!! and if something wears out, that is still the first place we look.
Our Kids clothes are either hand-me-down, thrift store finds or bought from the clearance rack at Kohls. (And their clothes are NOT shabby…they actually have TOO many clothes! Their wardrobes include many name and even boutique brands and several very nice smocked dresses!)
My husband and I typically purchase new clothing for ourselves, but we do so very rarely and only if we need something. We also purchase most of our kids toys used, and believe me, they do not want for anything!
3. We shop sales. Since we rarely shop for clothes or anything else, I am mainly referring to food here. I normally do one big grocery shop per month, and can make cooking better then going out to restaurant’s.. just like in this book “America’s Restaurant Recipes “( Which BTW I highly recommend a look at it. Its filled with great stuff that is very family friendly on a tight budget.)
I do not typically use coupons because we eat whole foods, and there are not many coupons available for the foods we eat. Instead, I shop mainly at Krogers for all the best deals I can find and go to a few fresh food markets. At these stores, I know exactly what I need, so I get in and get out without “browsing.”
We buy the basics and not many “filler” foods or snacks. Buying whole foods and cooking at home saves you money–and it benefits your health.
.We don’t shop. Besides shopping for used clothing and furniture, etc. when we need things and shopping for food once a month, we do not go shopping. I grew up in a family of shoppers–and that’s OK.
I used to like to browse places like T.J. Maxx, Kohls, etc. as well, but I do not now. Why? We simply do not have the money. If we were to just go browsing, I’d be tempted to buy things I do not need with money we do not have.
4. We choose free or cheap entertainment. Net-Flix is a great cheap way to rent movies over and over. It’s cheaper then Cable pay per view and you can watch as many movies whenever you want for a very low cost.
5. We utilize our skills to supplement my husband’s income. Even though we make it a priority for my primary job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, we do not feel that doesn’t mean I can’t use my skills to bring in extra income while the Kids are napping or after they’ve gone to bed.
Do I think that every single woman can truly stay at home? Actually, I don’t. If my husband were to make just a little less than he is making now, I have absolutely no idea how we would make it work. But, praise the Lord, we do make it work. He has made a way–and we are incredibly grateful.
What are your tips for staying at home with your kids when you can barely afford it?
Reference and Affiliate Links:
- Budgeting for Your Peace of Mind (quicken.intuit.com)
- How I Reduced Our Grocery Budget From $1100 To $600 In 6 Months (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- Top 5 ways to be a Rocking Budget Mom (raincheckit.wordpress.com)
- Guideline to Creating (and Following) a Family Budget (everydayfamily.com)
- Mitchell Tsai: How a Family of Four Manages to Live Well on Just $14,000 Per Year [Mandi Woodruff, Yahoo! Finance – 2/26/13] (finance.yahoo.com)
- What It’s Really Like to Live on a Shoestring Budget (money.usnews.com)
- If You are a Stay at Home Mom, Do You Feel Guilty About Spending Money on Yourself? (everydayfamily.com)