From Working Woman to SAHM: 6 Smart Ways to Afford the Transition

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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!

Do you work outside the home, but want to stay home with your kids instead? These 6 tips will show you how to afford it!

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.

Money Jar

 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 from Anderson is a house spouse, mom and blogger at 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?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. Thanks so much Kim for your kind and helpful answer!
    Those words from scriptures resonate so deeply in me! And you are right: I need to be patient and focused.
    I have just finished reading Ruth’s book and I have been really impressed by the professional attitude she has infused with those pages! Writing is one of my secret and uncoffessable dreams, you know the one you keep thinking about during a lifetime, and I am actually trying to figure out a way to take advantage from this passion of mine and meet some of our family’s financial needs. Working from home would be a dream come true! Let alone blogging for profit! Thanks for your books’ suggestions! They seem amazing! And thanks again for your very encouraging words of wisdom!

  2. Ludovica,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Wow! that would be a hard place to be. I had a terrible commute and I didn’t even have kids yet so I can’t imagine. It sounds like you are doing a lot of soul searching but the beauty of what you wrote is that you are doing it with wisdom.

    I believe that one of the best things you can do when you are seeking God for guidance is see what the Bible says about it. I love Dave Ramsey’s website because he takes a very Biblical approach to finances. With that being said, here are a few good scriptures to think about.

    Luke 14:28-30
    “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it, (29) lest, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’.”

    I Timothy 5:8
    “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    First and foremost financial planning is essential. Having a sound plan before you make this leap is important. Second, providing for your family is important. Keeping your family fed, clothed, safe, in a home and with your bills paid is essential. The rest might have to be saved for if that comes to pass. Or maybe you go back to working part time when the time comes for them to go to a pricey school.

    Ultimately, if you take the leap and your family isn’t financially ready, you really won’t be better off than you were before and it could really cause strife in your family.

    It looks like you are a blogger. I’m not sure how blogging works in Italy but if you want to be able to stay at home a provide an income for your family in the next few years, consider reading ” How to Blog for profit without selling your soul” by Ruth Soukup. Her ebook or physical book are available online. You might be able to stay at home in the next 5 years if you’ll take advantage of something you are already doing, keep working and save in the meantime. Get your debts taken out.

    I also highly recommend that you read “Quitter” and “Start” by Jon Acuff. He’s a Christian who writes about what you should and shouldn’t do while you pursue your dreams to be what you know you should be on the inside. I think you will find great wisdom in these books. Even if you get the audio version and listen on your way to work each day.

    I hope you have found some kind of encouragement. The truth is, no one really knows your situation but you. Be sure to talk it over with your spouse. If you decide to take the leap, be sure you have enough of an emergency fund to make you feel comfortable in case, heaven forbid, your husband lost his job. You need a solid cushion. Cut out all the expenses you can to get yourself to that place a quickly as possible and then make the decision. When you start experience God’s peace when you think about making the transition, you can know that you are getting closer and closer to the place he wants you to be.

  3. Hi, I am a mom of 3 boys living in Italy and I work 6 hours a day outside the house and spend 3 hours a day in commuting. I leave my family every early morning without even wishing them a good day but I am able to pick children up at school on my way home. I feel blessed we, me and my husband, both have secure jobs, since here in Italy having this opportunity is becoming more and more a luxury, but in the inside of myself, I am totally unhappy about this situation. I feel my real mission is staying at home and taking care of my family. I am blessed my husband is able to take care of the children as much as me, but I don’t feel any way comfortable in being a mom working outside the house. We are saving a lot, but our expenses are still high. Our goal is paying the mortgage as soon as possible and we are working as much as we can in saving my income for the next 6-9 months to have an emergency fund we can count on. I am obsessed with questions about what God really wants from me, as her daughter. He does want me to keep on working outside the home, sacrificing myself for my family’s financial peace and forgetting about this “wild dream” of being a SAHM (Can you believe this has become one of a woman’s wildest dreams, nowadays? So “wild” to be ashamed to even talking about this with girlfriends and female colleagues!) and living an unhappy life inside of me, knowing that was not what I wanted to be; or does God wants me to take this leap, move forward with what I feel as my mission, although it seems impossible right now? And what about when my children grow older and ask for more opportunities (a private university course, an educational journey in a foreign country) or, may God sustain us, one of us got sick and we might need more money for health expenses? I feel guilty about all of that. I feel guilty to feel this is not the life I wanted to live, for me and my family. And I feel guilty to put my family in the possibility to be in the need to sacrifice maybe some of their dreams, maybe in some way in the future. I am sorry. I do understand this might be read as a complain, nonetheless I hope your experience can help me giving me some insights in making peace with myself, once for all.

  4. I became a SAHM about 6 months ago. I was working 50+ hours a week and many nights my family would be sleeping when I got home. The differing schedules left very little family time. My toddler was on no sort of schedule since I was hardly with her and she was the pickiest eater I’ve ever seen. I am a major planner and have always been a work horse so staying home was scary for me. I ended up taking a leap and quitting my job without a plan…which wasn’t the best idea because our accounts weren’t prepared to thrive on one income. So I did what you did and cut out a lot of pointless expenses. We called and lowered our cell phone bills (we realized we didn’t use all the data/mins and were able to switch to a lesser package), cut out cable and got netflix, expensive toiletries (I have a weakness for salon products), extravagant food (I’m a foodie and now only make one fancy meal a month and also cut out a lot of meat and snacks) and being smart about gas usage during the week. I finally got it down and just the changes in my daughter alone have been completely worth it. My biggest issues has actually been free time…I LOVE my child but it’s difficult not having much adult interaction!

    1. Melissa, that is great that you found that areas that you could cut and you did. Not many people are prepared to do that. I totally get where you are coming from as a mom too. There are days I just want to hang out with adult people. It can get lonely sometimes especially when the husband travels. I arrange play dates with my other stay at home friends or I go out in the evenings after my kid is in bed and my husband can keep an eye on him without actually having to keep an eye on him.

  5. I have 3 daughters ages 8 5 and 2. I just resigned from my full time job last Monday without any notice to become a Sahm for my
    Daughters. The decision to stay at home was made due to my daughters really having a hard time at school since I was a second shift manager of dry cleaner I was not at home to help w homework or fix dinner. We had bad babysitter after bad babysitter and the little one was having worsening separation anxieties. My husband really
    Flipped out when he found I had quit without a plan. He works at a gas station 5 days a week for minimum wage. This is all very scary but I took the leap of faith Bc I know my kids need me ! I have a lot of emotional support that I did right for my kids! However im already set and have accepted a part time job starts the end of this week. I will only be gone 2 full days a week instead of 5. And a few hours in saturday. Way better than the 45 to 50 hours a week I was doing. The kids are so happy I am home when they get off the bus! I can’t put a price on happiness!!!
    Hoping to get some tips on how to live on his one income 🙂

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing your story, Anna! I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to work outside the home, when you just wanted to be there for your daughters. I’m glad you were able to find a part-time job to help, and if you haven’t read my series on How to Radically Reduce Your Expenses, it might be a great resource to learn how to cut costs and save even more during this time! Wishing you the best. <3

  6. Im in my 6th year. After 20 yrs with a police dept, i stayec home with 3 boys. Hubby is a teacher, he went back to school, got his phd, and his salary now covers what mine was. But witb 3 boys it gets harder as they get older, way more food! Mens size clothes cost more, and activities for all cost more. But in the big picture, quality of life far outweighs any wants or money issues…
    Good luck if ur making the change, improved our marriage too!

    1. Tracy, it is wonderful that your husbands salary is able to cover you guys. Some people might be surprised to find that if staying at home is what they really want, the might just be able to live on one income if they are willing to cut few corners. Then there are others who’s spouse makes enough that their lifestyle doesn’t change at all which is even nicer. I have a boy and am wondering what will happen when he gets big enough to put away some serious food. That might be the time I have to start super couponing!

  7. I will begin my life as a SAHM on 10/23 after being on a successful career path For The Past 10 years. My husband and I have decided to homeschool our 3 boys and it is impossible to do while working, even part time (cause I tried! ). I am nervous but excited about this new life and your blog was a Godsend.

    1. Ooh, that IS exciting! I wish you and your family the absolute best in your new endeavor and I’m glad this post was able to help!

    2. Nancy, this will be such a great adventure for you! If your going to homeschool be sure you find a way to help you plan plan plan so you don’t get overwhelmed. It sounds like you were already homeschooling part time so you may already have a great system in place. Do you have any tips for other homeschooling SAHM on how to tackle a lesson plan?

  8. Some great tips. I have been a SAHM for 8 years. My tip is to use coupons! There are things I will not pay for or pay very little for such as shampoo, dental care items, laundry and dish soap and cleaning products. Getting these things for free or very cheap I’m able to stay home, volunteer at my sons school, serve on the PTA and put home cooked meals on the table every night.

    1. Jennifer, that is such a great idea. I wish that I was more into couponing but it overwhelms to even think of getting started. Women who can get almost all their essentials for free are amazing! I think it takes a gift of patience and ingenuity to do what you do. Great tip! Kalyn has a great post on here about The Best Coupon Sites to Help you Save which helped me know where to look for great coupons.

  9. I quit my full time job this summer! I’m working from home now, but freelance stuff is unpredictable. Every time I second-guess my decision, I look at my kids, and how much happier they are to spend time as a family now. It’s scary but it was worth it for us!

    1. Adrianne, working from home is such and amazing opportunity. Have you found any challenges with working from home with kids? Sometimes I feel like I have to steal moments here or there to write in the midst of being at home with a toddler.

  10. Great tips!!! I have been a SAHM for almost 5 years now, and with good planning and by living frugally, we live a great life!

    1. Thanks Belinda! I’m so happy you have found peace and joy in your SAHM journey! Do you have something that you enjoy now that you really didn’t have time to enjoy before?

      1. As my children are still so young, I find that I don’t really have any spare time…..the balance will change a little as they get older, I’m sure.

        As a SAHM, I’ve become passionate about ways to live more frugally, reading personal finance blogs, budgeting and working out financial goals for the future with my husband Is all such an exciting challenge; trying to make them dollars stretch as far as possible!

        I also love the opportunity to be to spend this precious time with my kiddos…before they reach the ages where they don’t want to hang out with me as much!

  11. I’ve just started my life as a SAHM when my son was born 5 months ago. After 10 years of teaching, I am thoroughly enjoying the new adventure! Like you said, planning ahead (as much as possible) is important and living frugally is a necessity. I think it’s also important to find ways that you, as Mom, can joyfully thrive as a SAHM. This may look different for everyone but it is important none the less.

    1. Kristen I think you are right on point. Joyfully thriving as a SAHM looks different for everyone since everyone is in a different place. I joyfully thrive as a SAHM by blogging. It makes me very happy to write, create and share.

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