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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Choosing To Be A Stay-At-Hom Mom Living On One Income

Lizanne of Clay Jar People emailed me some great questions on being a stay-at-home mom and how to manage a family on one income. She gave me permission to post her questions.

Choosing To Be A Stay-at-Home Mom Living on One Income

1. Were you at home before you had kids? Or did you only decide to stay home once you had babies?

I did work, but I knew that once I had my first child I would quit and stay home to
raise my child.

2. How do you manage to feed a family of 5 on one income? That's hectic!

It's really not that bad if you are willing to give up other things. We don't go
out to eat (fast food here and there), we have one vehicle (and a motorcycle),
we don't buy a bunch of things (no iphone, no flat screen T.V., no cable, no laptop, etc.) and
we budget. Our grocery bill is usually around $200-250/month.

3. My husband is planning to study part time, possibly full time, for about 7 years... How do you think we could manage since we want kids in that time?

Start living on one income now - save everything you make from your job. Get frugal.
Budget. Pray. Make staying at home your only option - seriously. When I got
pregnant, I was working for a non-profit making beans and my hubby was still in
school and working at a hot dog shop! If you want to be a full-time mommy and you
have limited finances, you have to be ridiculously committed, but it is worth every
"sacrifice" in the world.

4. How do you cut on your grocery budget?

Snacks are the first to go. I don't make very many exciting meals, and we don't eat
a lot of red meat. We pretty much stick to the basics! It makes for a great diet

5. Do you guys have life insurance or pension? And what about savings?

We do have life insurance and a pension plan. My husband works for a School District
so we have excellent benefits. We do save - we follow Dave Ramsey's principles on
saving and it has worked very well for us.

6. I don't know how the cost of living compares in the US with South Africa, but its quite expensive here. For example, renting a small one bedroom flat costs R3000 which I think is about $300. I suppose its pretty much normal... But where does one cut costs?

You have to be willing to sacrifice "luxuries." Start with what you absolutely
need, and work up from there.

7. How do you manage with one car with kids? We have one car, which isn't an issue because I take the bus to work. But if we had kids it would be tougher. How do you manage?

My husband has a motorcycle, so that helps, but in the winter I either have to drive
him to work or stay home. On the days we stay home I try and plan for friends to
come visit, or we do other fun things.

Thank you for the awesome questions! I truly believe that you will never regret
staying home and raising up your sweeties for the Lord. :)

"Good point!" comment alert!

Robin: "Two questions: Is it easy to stay at home on one income? Is it easy to work outside the home with children? I have done both, so I know the answer to both. No. Which one would I die trying to accomplish? The first."

Amy: "So many people talk about the sacrifice that it takes to stay at home but I would like to mention the huge sacrifice that it takes to work outside the home. The sacrifice on our children's lives."

Anne: "If you have to work, let the Lord redeem it!"

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S. Belle said...

Great post. It can be quite challenging to live on one income, but like you said, if you make it your only option to be a stay at home mom, then things will work out.

There are days that I consider going back to work to ease the financial strain at times, but every time I realize that it's just. not. worth it.

Collette@Jesuslovesmums said...

Interesting post! I stay at home and it was the best decision I ever made. Money is very tight but it is worth it. I actually thinking staying at home can be more challenging in some respects that being out working!
Collette x

thepittfamily said...

Thanks for answering my questions... It really helped :) gave me plenty of food for thought. Now to convince the husband that it can be done. I definitely agree that staying at home could be more challenging than working, but its a sacrifice I'd gladly make :)

Sarah said...

Those are great questions and great answers too! My husband works for a school district as well, we follow Dave Ramsey and I am staying at home with our baby too. With that being said, I am ALWAYS looking for ways to cut our grocery budget. Would you mind sharing some of your meal plans?

Kristen, The Pajama Mama said...

Amen!! Staying at home with one income does require sacrifices but honestly, i can't imagine what area if any of our loves would benefit from me NOT staying home! I encourage every mom to seriously consider making the sacrifices!

Robin said...

When I was a working mom, (wanted to stay home, but needed to wait until hubby wanted me home) I had a hard time imagining what it would really be like. So those are great questions and answers.
Two questions: Is it easy to stay at home on one income? Is it easy to work outside the home with children?
I have done both, so I know the answer to both. No. Which one would I die trying to accomplish? The first. My husband says that after salvation, the greatest thing that has happened to him was when the Lord made him realize I needed to come home from the workplace. It cut our income in half, so yeah, sacrifices and choices needed to be made, but I praise the Lord that He has made those sacrifices become little things in our lives. So it really doesn't even seem like sacrifices now.

Tiffany said...

Those are great questions and excellent answers. I've been at home with kids since our first was born, 17 years ago. Living on 1 income isn't easy. Especially in the early years, we really had to budget. I have no regrets about being home with our kids. Making do with only 1 car for many years, or choosing not to have cable, or any of the other things we "missed" is nothing compared to being there with the kids.

Sarah Mae said...

Sarah, our meals are pretty boring! Spaghetti, chicken and potatoes and a green (in as many ways as you can think of!), casseroles that last two days, $5 little ceasars pizza (our Friday treat), and other simple such meals.


I know, I told you boring! I know eventually I'll be able to make more "fun" type meals, but for now we're just fine with what we've got! :)

Kathy C. said...

So true. I wouldn't have given up the time I spent raising my son for anything in this world! We only get one chance to raise them.

Meghan Fravel said...

We live on 1 income and have 1 car and we have gotten rid of so called "luxuries" and $ is tight at times but we have never for 1 minute second guessed me staying at home and raising our kids. Its the best and most worthwhile sacrifice you can make,

The Real Me! said...

Giving up "things" to stay home with my kids is worth it! I don't miss cable or the latest gadgets and gizmos. I cook meals from scratch and try to cut corners whenever I can. This after going shopping yesterday for clothes! LOL. But as I wrote in my post, I hadn't gone in a long long time and my husband gave me his blessing! And it was all cash no credit! One big piece of advice is cut up the credit cards. I never had a credit card in my life and I've always had the money I needed because we budget for everything. Larry Burkett's Money Management is a good reference. Okay I'll shut up now!
Hugs to you!

DairyQueen said...

those are great questions with great answers!

I was lucky that I was a student until my children were born, so it was actually cheaper in SO many ways for me to stay home (way less gas, less convenience food, less eating out, etc.)

Reborn said...

Thanks for the article Sarah Mae!

I would add that learning to do things yourself helps a lot too. Even since we married, I've cut my husband's hair with electric clippers. It wasn't anything to brag about at first (and took me over an hour!), but I'm really good now. Making minor home repairs yourself, buying used furniture and fixing it up, and making homemade gifts are other good ways we've found to save money.

We also buy our gas with a credit card that we pay off every month... and every once in a while I cash in the points for gift cards to restaurants which we use for birthdays and stuff.

For zillions more tips (from the expected to completely crazy, like dumpster diving!) I highly recommend the book "The Tightwad Gazette".

Also, where I live $300/month rent is NOTHING!!! We paid $750/mo for a crusty 1 bedroom basement apartment! Our mortgage payment is now double that. I wish I lived in a lower COL area!

Amy Matthews said...

So many people talk about the sacrifice that it takes to stay at home but I would like to mention the huge sacrifice that it takes to work outside the home. The sacrifice on our children's lives. For us it wasn't a question andwhen people ask me how we do it on one income in this world I often twll them that we decided that love, care, nourishment, discipline and time spend on and with the children are so far more important than a big house, steak dinners, new cars, or satalite tv.

In our case we even sold our bigger home for a less expensive one when our third child was coming along. People called us crazy calling our priorities all messed up, but I believe its quite the opposite.

I make our own laundry soap and use simple cleaners that cost much less, I have learned how to get 5 meals from a single 4 pound chicken. We may not have brand new clothes but I feel very useful when I scout out the best yard sales and resale buys to provide for our family. Just because the culture makes it harder for us to be stay-at-home wives and mothers doesn't mean that we should march into the workplace. God's plan is always the best and I believe with all myself that He gave me these wonderful children for my husband and I to bring up, not a daycare or baby sitter. It is our responsibilty to raise up our children and to teach them the ways of the Lord, how can we do that effectively if they are under someone else's care for so many hours of every day while we work outside the home?

I believe that my children are healthier all around because I stay at home with them. I think that many many times when we sacrifice more money for an investment in our kids that they are well aware of it. I think it says alot when we are willing to say to our kids that they are more important than anything else.

Alot of times we use the excuse that we work to provide for our children but in reality we can provide the needs of our children on one income. It may take some changes in the way we live but what else could be more worth that "sacrifice"?

Sarah Mae said...

"So many people talk about the sacrifice that it takes to stay at home but I would like to mention the huge sacrifice that it takes to work outside the home. The sacrifice on our children's lives."

Excellent point Amy!

Kristenph said...

Great post. I also always planned to stay home once I had children even though I had a high paying job. I found myself explaining my frugal ways to the Wal-mart checker a couple of weeks ago. (I blogged about it http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/kristenph/694286/ )

I agree, it's really not a sacrifice. BTW, you're the second person in 2 days that said their grocery budget was $200-$250 per month. I really MUST compare notes. I thought I was doing great at $500 for a family of 6.

Anne Basso said...

Sadly, my family would have to give up things like: electricity and heat for me to stay home, but I'm not a career woman, and my family comes first. I work as little as possible (two-three days a week) and when I'm not here, my husband is. I'm still primarily the homemaker, and my husband is the provider.

On top of that, I make sure that what I do outside of the home is meaningful and done for God and my family. I work as a nurse, caring for the elderly. I have made my outside job a ministry that does not neglect my home and family.

If you have to work, let the Lord redeem it!

Just my $0.02 =)

Anne Basso said...

Ack! Re-read my comment and I'm not totally sure it would make sense. What I mean by "let the Lord redeem it" is that anything done for Him can be great by His power. So, if one has to be away from one's family, give it to the Lord, do it in His service (as well as the service of your family) and see what He can make it.

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Dave Ramsey's 'Financial Freedom' plan is awesome. It works very well when both husband and wife are committed.

I have to admit, once I "got tired" of waiting on things to purchase when I knew we had the money, I started messing up by deviating from the plan and I foolishly squandered what we'd worked so hard for.

We had a one year goal for our emergency savings to reach it's allotted amount. Praise God we did it in about nine months! However, Proverbs 14:1.


Christine Smith said...

Before I stayed home, I read the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominquez. Then I got rid of the $18 a hour Nanny, the weekly gardener, and the housecleaners. I quit my full time Realtor career and downsized from a million dollar home into something smaller so I could be home with my children. Once I did this, God revealed an illness in my child which I did not see because I was busy with my career. My priority became healing my child and not living in my dream home. I am blessed and thankful that God set my feet in the right direction.

Today I own a Christian business, work from home and enjoy time with my children.

The Topiary Lady said...

I was a stay at home mommy for 7 years and then my hubby and I switched places and I worked full time and he stayed home. It was truly the MOST difficult time in my life. I still had to clean, cook, shop and do the laundry when I got home and I was exhausted all the time. (hubby was homeschooling the boys and studying for a new career, our intention was 3 months, but it turned into 12!)

Being home (I homeschool) IS a lot of work, but you can work around your own schedule and make the time to save money. We don't eat out much, our grocery bill is higher because we eat a ton of veggies and fruits, try to eat as whole grain and organic as possible which just costs a lot more unfortunately. I am working a few hours a week for free organic greens this summer so that helps and I bake a lot to keep the boys fed. I buy local which saves me money too and helps out other families.

I think it's a commitment that you make to the Lord and your family, and yourself.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Lots of good info Sarah Mae and some great points in the comments too!

When we made the decision that I would stay home, it barely looked like it would work out on paper and we definitely struggled for quite a while as we were used to having plenty of extra money. It was a tough transition, but we knew that the Lord was leading us to do it and that it would all be worth it.

Later on, the book Miserly Moms really helped me to plan our meals by cost, make things stretch, and bring the grocery budget down.

The wonderful thing now is that there are so many resources available - and a lot of great blogs with frugal advice!

Jenni said...

I have to say homeschooling cuts cost as well. Tuition from private schools and all the driving you would do if they were in school.