Before I had James, I was always searching on how others were able to afford to be stay-at-home moms. I knew that when I had a baby I would want to stay home with them and not put them in daycare. And honestly, I got a little frustrated and disappointed because the only articles that I ever found were people that had a $500 rent payment and one clunky car that barely ran. They lived in small towns where things like gas and houses were super cheap and a daily commute was five minutes…I wish!
That lifestyle wasn’t even possible for us if we wanted to stay in Colorado! Where we were living we couldn’t even rent a cardboard box for $500! And before you think it, why didn’t we just move? Well we could have done that but we really wanted to stay by both of our families. So we starting planning and figuring out how one day we could afford for me to stay home. Here are 6 real (and not always easy) things that we did to make it possible for me to become a stay-at-home mom!
Lived Within Our Means: For the first five years of our marriage we both worked full-time jobs, but kept our bills as close to a one-income household as possible. We bought a house that was lower than what we were qualified for, and didn’t move to a bigger house even when we could have afforded to.
Got A Bachelor’s Degree: This one was our game changer! For the five years that we were both working full-time, my husband was also going to college FULL TIME! Yes, you heard me right. We knew that we would never be able to make the kind of income that we needed to sustain our life without one of us having a college education. I’m not saying that people can’t make it without a degree, but it was going to make a huge difference for us. He worked during the day and did school in the evenings and weekends, mainly online! It was very stressful and we didn’t have much time together, but now we can say that it was totally worth it!
Saved Up and Didn’t Accumulate Debt: While I was still working, we saved up a lot of money! We put away as much as possible to help when I wasn’t working anymore. We also didn’t accumulate a lot of debt! We even figured out how to pay for my husband’s education without taking out a student loan. Sound impossible? We were able to pay for some of the school tuition by using the equity we had accumulated in our home. The interest rate on our mortgage was way less than a student loan or personal loan, and barely increased our monthly payment when we refinanced. We were also blessed with my husband having jobs that provided tuition reimbursement, and we would use tax returns to help with books and program fees. Believe me, it was very difficult at times, but we kept figuring it out!
Stayed Patient and Waited! I tried to stay patient through all of it! I wanted so badly to have a child, but we knew we couldn’t afford it in the first years of being married. I stayed patient and waited until it was a better time for us financially. There were definitely times when I wanted to put caution to the wind and just do it, but that wouldn’t have been easy. I would have ended up going back to work and having to put our baby in daycare, which neither of us wanted.
Planned Financially to Have a Baby: We knew that a baby was going to cost a lot of extra money, so we saved a lot of money before I got pregnant! We also knew that we would have to pay the out-of-pocket for the delivery, so we set aside $100 a month into an HSA account years before I got pregnant. It was a good thing we did too because we were also hit with a large NICU bill when James was born!
Stuck to a Budget: We are always looking at our finances and working on a budget. We had a car that was a little too expensive with gas and insurance so we traded it for a more fuel efficient little car. We watch what we spend and don’t spend a ton on restaurants and extra stuff like a high cable bill. We stream Netflix for around ten dollars a month! It’s amazing how little things like fast-food and cable bills can add up so quickly!
Sometimes it may seem impossible to be able to afford to live on one income, but it isn’t. It just takes some planning and sometimes some tough decisions. But now I’m so happy that we waited and I’m able to stay at home with our son!