Recently I found myself struggling to afford to stay at home with my baby. My maternity leave was ending, and after going over all our income and expenses, I was devastated! It seemed like there was no way around it—I could NOT afford to stay at home with my child.
Luckily, I decided not to give up. With some creative thinking, hard work, and some sacrifice, I figured out how to afford to be a stay at home mom.
The following points include the most important things I did to allow me to stay home with my baby. While I’m not perfect at doing all of the following things, I’m working on all of them, and they’re allowing me to raise my son all day long!
How to Afford to Stay at Home With Your Baby
1. I Adjusted My Expectations
To afford to stay at home, I had to undergo a serious change of paradigm, so I could be ready to make adjustments to my life.
The truth is, going from two incomes to one requires sacrifice, there’s just no way around it. I had to change my expectations and be prepared to do things that took me out of my comfort zone.
- I had to be prepared to work longer hours (cuz my son did NOT sleep through the night for FOREVER) and spend less money.
- I had to accept that I wouldn’t be able to buy myself nice things as often – I’d have to take time and save up for stuff.
- I had to let go of my desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, and I had to stop worrying about what people thought of me as much (and I don’t mean that I have a lot of judgy people in my life, I just often worry about what other people will think – whether or not they’re actually even thinking about me!)
- I also had to become okay with tracking and thinking about my money more, instead of just spending when I felt like it.
Even though those adjustments might sound difficult, they weren’t impossible. I DID find a way to change my expectations, accept those sacrifices, and enjoy my new life.
2. I Found Part Time Work From Home
I’d love to say that we found a way to live purely on one income, but that didn’t happen for us.
After going over our finances, I knew that there was no way to make being a stay at home mum work unless I could earn money on the side.
After some internet research, I landed on a couple of different stay at home jobs to help me make ends meet.
Part Time Child Care
Doing child care is one of the more common jobs for stay at home moms. But, can I be honest for a minute? I really didn’t see myself doing it.
However, when it came down to it, I really wanted to stay home with my baby. So when a friend approached me to watch her children part-time, I decided to go for it (and I actually really like it now, by the way).
This childcare job is super part-time, just twice a week for 5 hours each time, but it brings in enough money to help ends meet for now.
Part Time Freelance Writing
Another way I found to do part time work from home was freelance writing. I took a course, made a writer’s website, and started scouring the internet for job opportunities.
Soon I had a couple of clients, and I started writing 2 or 3 articles a month–not a ton, but enough to make a difference to me financially.
I’m able to watch my son all day and fit in writing while he naps or after he’s in bed for the night.
3. I Made a Budget and Tracked Spending
Something else I did to help our money situation was to make a budget — this was one of the most essential parts of affording to stay at home.
Making a budget helped me in a couple of ways. First, it let me know exactly how much money I would need to bring in each month. Ideally, I wanted to bring in more than the bare minimum, but it was good to know that on a lean month, we’d survive if I just brought in x amount of money.
Next, the budget forced me to sit down and make goals for spending (I had previously just been spending whatever I wanted to). I also talked about those goals with my husband, and we got on the same page.
Having spending goals has helped me realize how wasteful I was with our money before, even in buying necessary things like food.
Now, when I shop I am forced to think about whether I really NEED what I’m about to buy, and it’s funny how a lot of my previous ‘needs’ seem more like wants.
4. I Stopped Replacing Broken Things
Another thing I did to save money was stop replacing broken things. Now, obviously there have been some important broken things that I’ve had to replace, but many times I’ve just fixed stuff or used it broken.
For example, clothing is one of the main things that I fix. I’ve started to mend holes in my clothing and in my family’s clothing instead of getting rid of those clothes.
Of course, I’d waaaaay rather buy something new and pretty, but unless that’s in the budget, I don’t do it. (Maybe letting go of your pride so you can wear old, ratty clothes should be another point in this post…).
We also currently use a broken toaster. The handle snapped off months ago, and we figured out that we could just stick a plastic popsicle stick in there, push down on the lever, and it’d still work. So we didn’t replace it. I know. Classy.
Before I throw something away now, I take a closer look and see if I can keep making it work. I feel like a major cheapskate but it helps make ends meet!
5. I Cooked From Scratch and Grocery Shopped Online
To afford staying at home with my little, I also had to change some of my food habits. I had to start cooking from scratch more often (and ordering in less frequently). I bought lots of fresh produce, dried beans, and rice.
I also started doing my grocery shopping online and just picking it up. Shopping online allowed me to stick to my list and not be tempted to buy extras.
I haven’t done the math exactly, but I’d say we save at least $200 a month when I pay attention to my grocery budget.
6. I Made Peace with Having Less Financial Security
One big thing that I (and my husband) had to do when I decided to stay at home, was come to terms with having less financial security.
Since I’ve started staying home we haven’t been able to save as much or pay down our debt as fast. That has kind of bummed me out, but it’s totally worth it to get to spend my days with my son.
And less financial security doesn’t mean we have NO financial security. We’re still working hard to save and pay down debt, we’ve just had to accept that we will do those things more slowly.
You Can Find a Way to Stay at Home Too
Okay, the title of this section is a very broad statement. There are indeed some situations where there is simply no way for someone to afford to stay at home with children. And there is NO shame in that.
But I’m guessing if you’re reading this there’s a chance you’re looking for a way to stay home with your child.
So I want you to know that much of the time it IS possible to afford to stay at home with your kid(s), if you are willing to think outside the box and sacrifice.
So make a plan, build a budget, and see if you can find a way to make money from home. With some creative thinking and hard work, you just might be able to live the dream of staying at home with your child.
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