Quitting my job to stay home with my daughter was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. Like I’ve said in previous posts, making that decision wasn’t easy though, financially that is. I wasn’t just working to pay for daycare and pocket $500, I was contributing to our lifestyle. A lifestyle that consisted of eating out probably 5 times a week, doing fun stuff on the weekend, going shopping when we wanted and deciding to go on vacations at the drop of the hat. We never thought about the price of things; because we didn’t have to.
Going from two incomes to just one was a huge adjustment for us. The first month it seemed easy because it’s like shocking the body but as time goes on you fall back into your old ways and old mindset. It’s not until you move money from your savings that you are like ‘wait, no…we can’t live like we used to’. Then you get yourself back on track and make a stricter budget and stick to it.
Since I now have a few months under my belt of being a stay at home mom and living off one income, I feel like I can actually sit down and write this post. If I continue staying home for a few years, I’ll be interested to see what continues to work for us and what we tweak as we go.
- STOP EATING OUT
Prior to quitting, this was by far our biggest sucker of money. Really sit down and look at your spending; I think you’ll be shocked at how much money you spend on eating out, coffee, snacks at work, happy hours, etc. Looking at that number honestly made me a little sad; we were literally eating away Teagan’s college fund. I find that being successful in this is meal planning. Sit down every weekend and make a list of at least dinners for the week. Add a little bit more to that so you can have leftovers for lunch. I shop twice a week because it just gets me and Teagan out of the house but whatever works.
I use coupons when I happen to have them but I’m not at the point yet where I’m actively looking for deals and clipping coupons. Maybe one day but for now meal planning and picking the brand that happens to be on sale seems to work out for us.
- BUY SECOND HAND
85% of Teagan’s clothes have come from consignment sales since before she was even born. The other 15% have been gifted by family or friends. Frankly, I can’t wrap my head around buying brand new clothes for young children. I want Teagan to look cute, of course, but not at the expense of our bank account and savings especially since she grows out of them so quickly or ruins them. You’d be really surprised the quality of the clothes you can find at consignment and yard sales. They are typically in excellent condition. If she REALLY needs something, then she needs something but I think it’s about changing your mindset about what’s most important.
This goes for home goods too. Always look online at yard sale sites or second hand apps first. You’d be so surprised what you find. Some of my most favorite things in my home are second hand.
- CUT BACK
Cut back on everything. Stop getting your nails done. Stop getting your hair highlighted. Stop going to stores without lists because we all know how a trip to Target for ‘just one thing’ ends. I haven’t had my nails done in probably a year. I’ve been home now for almost 6 months and I’ve only had my highlights done once; I just can’t justify that every 6-8 weeks anymore. I don’t have expensive hobbies anymore. If our cable bill wasn’t wrapped up in our HOA fee, we would 100% cancel it. Basically, drop the non-essentials, make your husband give you that massage.
- SHOP YOUR HOME
In the past, I’ve gotten myself into a Pinterest coma and felt like I needed to go out and buy all this stuff to decorate my house more. In reality, we have more than we need here it’s just a matter of moving things around. It’s shocking how fresh and new your home feels when you simply move things around within your house and you save money. It’s a win-win.
In writing this, I am by no means saying we never eat out, buy something new or spend money on something dumb. We absolutely do from time to time but it’s become a question of needs versus wants on a daily basis. Do I want a new pair of sandals? Yes, yes I do. Do I need a new pair of sandals? No, no I don’t. At the end of the day, Cary makes enough money to allow me to stay home with Teagan and completely support us and I know we are so blessed for that but what I am saying is it doesn’t go without sacrifices and these are super easy ways to start saving money today. We don’t live the same lifestyle and we go without a lot of things we want but I’m living the life I never knew I always wanted. Seeing that sweet little smile all day long makes the fact that my roots are three inches grown out totally okay!
If you asked me a year ago if I thought being a stay at home mom and surviving off of one income was realistic I would’ve said absolutely not. I am now a believer that we make the life we want. If our situation changes financially, I know we would downsize our lifestyle even more to continue this journey.