Guest post from Aileen of Aileen Cooks
I never thought I would be a stay-at-home-mom before I had my first child. I took pride in working and did not feel the need to change anything.
My husband had mentioned the idea of my staying home once we had kids, but I never thought we could afford it. In fact, we couldn’t afford for me to stay home — I was bringing in almost half of our income!
We live in the San Francisco Bay Area — an extremely high-cost area — and we had an expensive mortgage. There was no way it would work for me to stay home. I had to keep working.
Then, my son was born.
Boy, did my mind-set change!
I could not imagine the thought of leaving him, but I also didn’t think there was any way we would be able to survive on a single income.
When my son was 3 months old, I went back to work part-time. However, even with a part-time schedule, I was unhappy.
I mentioned this to my husband a lot, almost daily. I did not want to work anymore — I wanted to be home with our baby. I felt like I was missing out. So, we made a plan.
First, we figured out what our bills would need to be in order to survive on a single income. We would need to make a lot of changes, but we were both determined to make it work.
Here’s what we did:
- Cut out the non-essentials. No more trips to the nail salon or daily trips to Starbucks.
- Contacted every company I thought would work with us and requested a lower rate (Internet, Cell Phone, TV) and most worked with us.
- Cancelled our home phone.
- Ate out less and started bringing homemade lunches to work.
- Made more meals from scratch (homemade stocks and soups are a huge money saver).
- Purchased second-hand clothes and toys. You would be amazed at the high-quality clothes you can find for children.
- Refinanced our mortgage. This was huge for us – we were able to lower our interest rate and drop our mortgage insurance.
- Paid off our credit debt.
- Saved as much as we could from my part-time income, so we would have a cushion for emergencies.
- Said NO to pricey house projects. If it didn’t have to be done, we didn’t do it. An outdated bathroom was a small price to pay for the ability to have one of us stay home with our son.
- Continued to drive older cars. Our cars are not the newest and prettiest cars, but they get us from point A to B and they are payed off, so we don’t have to worry about huge car payments.
After 7 months of saving and cutting back, I quit my job!
My son was 10 months old and had just started walking. He is now 3 years old and we welcomed a second child last year.
Quitting my job was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am extremely grateful to my husband for his continued support.
We recently cancelled cable and continue to look for ways to cut back on our monthly expenses. I still make my husband’s lunch every day and try to make as much food from scratch as I can. I take the kids to the library and participate in free or inexpensive children’s programs run by our local YMCA and First 5 Center.
Sometimes, money is pretty tight for us. If I don’t have enough gas in my car, we say no to that play date. I scrounge together meals from our pantry until pay-day. My husband and I plan a lot of at-home dates. We buy small birthday and Christmas gifts. All of these things make a difference for us.
If you are struggling to make ends meet or are trying to transition to one income, keep at it! Every little bit will help you reach your goal!
Aileen is a stay at home mom of two living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She blogs at Aileen Cooks where she shares family-friendly recipes, tips on cooking with kids, and money saving tips.