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Do you work outside the home, but wonder if you could afford to stay home with your kids instead? Kim from Thrifty Little Mom took that leap of faith five years ago, and is sharing 6 ways to be smart with your finances throughout the entire transition. You will love her practical tips and tricks to successfully live on one income!
I still remember the first Monday morning I slept in.
I woke up and stared hard at my white popcorn ceiling. My husband’s side of the bed was cold and empty; he had left for work hours before. I wanted to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming while at the same time wondering if this was all some sort of ongoing nightmare I had begun. The future was a big, uncertain path to be navigated. There wasn’t a map, and what I had done just didn’t seem normal.
After years of working toward on my career goals I’d given it all up to … stay at home? I still wondered if we had made the right choice. I hoped that our calculations, projections and budget work was right. I prayed that this choice hadn’t ruined our financial future.
Five years later, I’ve come to the conclusion that our calculations and budgeting were pretty close. Knowing what I know now, it was absolutely the right choice for us and has improved our lives in ways I would have never known had I not taken the leap of faith to step down from my job and be a stay-at-home wife.
The hardest part is convincing yourself that you can do it and that you can survive on one income.
In order to make the switch, we had to make quite a few adjustments ourselves, and at the time, those adjustments revolved around money. If you are making a financial transition in your life and need some ideas for tightening your budget consider these small, yet substantial changes.
1. Build a Budget Based On One Income
Budgets are a roadmap to financial security. With a budget, there is no wondering if you can cover expenses because you already know how much you have. Make it a point to sit down and do a budget every payday with your spouse, because surviving and thriving on one income is easiest when you have a plan.
Remember that a budget isn’t just about making sure that you aren’t spending more than you bring in. Budgeting is about bossing your money around and telling it where to go each month. It’s knowing how you will spend your hard earned money without going into debt to do it.
If you don’t have a budget yet, be sure to visit Kalyn’s Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting Series to help you through the entire process.
2. Create An Emergency Fund
Before I ever made the transition to staying at home, we made sure that we had enough money in our savings account to cover 6 months of bare bones living expenses in case for some reason my husband lost his job. Bare bones means food, basic utilities, transportation and shelter.
An emergency fund of 3-6 months living expenses is essential to give you peace of mind. You’ll be that much more prepared when and if tragedy strikes.
3. Drop the Non-essentials
When you’re working on a tight budget, non-essentials have to go. For us these were cable, home phone lines and we even dropped internet for 6 months! I used the library or places around with free Wi-Fi when I needed to do something online.
Avoid your favorite coffee joints and restaurants, and find ways to eat at home or brown bag as much as possible. If you have memberships you aren’t using, drop them.
4. Negotiate Your Utilities
Believe it or not you can negotiate with some of your utility companies.
Anytime I get a sales ad in the mail for a competing company I keep it handy. If it’s cheaper than what I’m paying then I give my current company a call and let them know I’m considering switching for a better rate. They usually meet or beat the deal. I’ve saved money on trash and gas services using this trick.
5. Evaluate Your Auto Needs
How many vehicles do you need with 1 person at home? In our case we had two used cars and a motorcycle. My husband drove the motorcycle to work as much as possible to save on fuel expenses.
Since our cars were used and had over 150,000 miles we dropped our insurance down to just liability coverage. If an accident was our fault, the insurance would pay for any damage done to someone else’s person or property. This switch greatly reduced our car insurance payment every six months.
6. Cut Back On Groceries
One of the ways that I cut back the cost of my groceries without sacrificing nutrition is buying frozen. At Super Target I can get a 2 pound bag of frozen chicken tenderloins for $7.99 or less. Besides longevity, I’ve often heard that frozen fruit and veggies are more nutritious than fresh since the vitamins and minerals are kept in by freezing.
The second method I adopted was eating less meat and cutting out junk food. Making meatless meals for at least half the week, reduced my grocery bill significantly. If you can bulk up a meal with inexpensive rice, pasta or beans, you can stretch into to two meals easily.
I also cut back on buying chips, sodas, cookies and all those other goodies my husband liked to have around for mindless snacking.
If you’re considering a financial transition in your home, lay out a plan right now to see what areas you can cut. Then carefully work through your finances until you’re able to live within one income.
If you’d like more in-depth tips about living on one income check out my eBook on Amazon titled The Organized & Efficient House Spouse. It’s designed to help stay at home spouses thrive at organization, cleaning, budgeting and doing it all in a way that best suits you and your unique family.
Kim Anderson is a house spouse, mom and blogger at ThriftyLittleMom.com. Her blog is packed with posts that infuse every part of a woman’s life with ideas for saving money. Kim lives in Georgia with her Electrical Engineer husband, her talkative 2.5 year old son who loves chasing the family beagle, Bit. Kim enjoys reading adolescent literature, drinking iced coffee and never leaves home without a coupon.
Are you a Stay-at-Home-Mom?
How did you transition to one income?
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