a lot of parents would love to be stay at home parents and a lot, including me, thought that dream to be impossible.
even now, i still have my doubts. we do make mistakes. but i know what it takes to succeed. it just takes a lot more discipline, something we are working on daily.
when i think about where arnie and i were pre children, i get a little angry with ourselves. actually i get more than a little angry. we were both working and we were basically throwing money down the drain. spending it on garbage that we didnt need, barely used, and was overpriced.
where we are now, i sometimes wish we had that income available to us again...but then i stop wishing. i'm happy with where we are now- we just have to work harder for it.
now, i cant guarantee you will convert successfully to staying at home, there is a lot more than budgeting that goes into staying at home..but i can give you some tips- after all, hindsight is 20/20.
if you are both working now, consider the hours you are away from home. then assess what you're paying for "in home". do you need cable? really?
some people at this point will cut bait and walk away. some simply cant live without american idol or dancing with the stars. i was leaning that way until we gave it up. after 2 days, i just didnt care "what happened next". i'm sure you wouldnt either. it's just a show...not your life. and i'd like to remind you that if you want something bad enough (staying at home), you'll take the necessary steps to make it happen....and honestly, if cable tv was the only sacrifice keeping you from staying home- i do not want to hear you complain about it when you decide to keep working. the flip side of no cable? more time to spend together- whether it's just you and your husband...or a whole house full of kids. spend time getting to know them. when you look back on life, would you rather say i saw all 200 seasons of Freaks and Geeks or that you spent real time laughing and loving your family?
while we were childless, we had the cable/internet/phone bundle that started out at $89 a month, and then jumped to around $130 a month after a year. we paid it because...well, i dont know...i'm still kicking myself over crap like this.
eventually, we gave up the home phone part of the bundle, thinking this would help save us money...and converted to cell phones. we started out simple. just calls only....and then slowly, we "needed" more. i wanted to text. we needed a data plan. we wanted to surf the internet on our phones...
but our phones were simple, so we needed to upgrade those.
soon, we were paying for cable, internet at home, and two cell phones with all the bells and whistles. i thought we switched to *save* money...not to pay more.
our phones cost us in total around $140 month, now that's on top of still paying for cable and home internet.
dont forget we still had the every day costs of gas in both vehicles, lunches being bought (because why would we pack...), groceries, snacks, and eating out. we also obviously had the household bills: water, sewer, garbage, gas heat, electric, our car payment, and a mortgage.
and then, we added a child to our mix. we didnt give up much. we didnt want to. we did add a new expense once i went back to work: day care....and let me tell you- it isnt cheap. $400 a month. but while she was there, she was educated, she was potty trained, she learned friendships, and so much more. i dont regret it. i'm just saying it was one heck of an expense.
to make a long story short, we added two more babies to the mix, rather quickly and not without complication. i was on bed rest and couldnt work...and then i didnt want to work once they came...
and then we started looking at how we could possibly save money. we did the math. day care was going to be all of my month's salary, plus $150 from Arnie's. we simply couldnt do that. i was becoming a stay at home mom by force- i wanted to- this was just more abrupt.
by then, we had paid off our car. one less expense. we decided to give up cable. we were barely watching it as it was. it didnt hurt nearly as bad as you think it did. in fact, we hardly noticed. we gave up the bundle all together. one more less expense. i shopped around for an internet for the home and found one that worked for us. $20 a month.
we realized that we really didnt need a contract phone...let alone 2. we gave them up when the contract ran out. another expense gone. we bit another bullet and bough a phone outright with our tax return and did the straight talk plan. $40 a month.
with 2 babies under 2, disposable diapers were insane. i looked into alternatives. i found a website that bases everything off of income.
thanks to www.givingdiapersgivinghope.com we were supplied with cloth diapers for free (i paid a one time flat fee of $30 for shipping both ways- you do return them whenever you are done, no time limit). now, i also bought some additional diapers with our tax return simply for peace of mind, but it wasnt really needed and we could've done just fine on the free diapers.
*if you think cloth diapering is gross, you're preaching to the choir. i'll happily discuss the differences in diapering with you- pros, cons, etc.*
somewhere around here, we moved back home. arnie took a job for roughly the same pay he was already receiving but much better benefits and way better hours. rent was less than a mortgage and so another expense became a little less.
if you're wondering about boredom, there isnt much. we did "splurge" a little and bought netflix. it's $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming on multiple devices (at once). we also bought magic jack for a land line (a little more stability, less dropped calls) $40 for the YEAR. and by the way, it works great. the other day at the store, we splurged a little more and bought www.rabbittv.com -it's $10 for the year. yeah. $10. and it was worth it. WAY worth it.
*you may also qualify for a free cell phone through your income. look up assurancewireless through google and apply there.
other corner cutting skills we've take on:
*making our own laundry detergent (occasionally, i havent take on this feat full time just yet, but it's working!)
*line drying whenever possible for a cut back on an electric bill
*making our own cleaning supplies (it's amazing what vinegar can do...and add in some natural lemons for a better scent and voila: homemade and safe to use around kids)
*making my own diaper inserts. not for everyone, but i can do it...it makes me feel a little better creatively, and it makes life a little easier)
*cooking at home and from scratch on occasion. i havent done the "from scratch" thing a bunch, but i know it's healthier and when i have the time, i absolutely do it. we do real sit down meals instead of at the restaurant 'gosh i hope my kids dont have a break down and scream' scenario. cheaper and much more stress free.
*do the math on your purchases on everything. sometimes buying in bulk pays off...sometimes not. buy used on items where you know it's safe to buy used and buy new only when you can afford to truly 'pay' for it and when you know you truly NEED to.
*arnie takes his lunch to work. not always, but more often than not he does...and it's cheaper, saves us money, and keeps us from throwing out any leftovers.
*home schooling. not really to save money, but just to be closer as a family and to be sure that values are being instilled in my kids. God is a part of our lives and public school doesnt really "allow" that. it does cut down on expenses though: school clothes, shoes? not so much, only when needed. school lunches? nope. we're healthier at home. school fees? no. www.k12.com is free and extremely easy to execute.
we could most certainly make more cuts to our budget, we definitely need to be more disciplined in our budget now. the main point is even when you think you've got nothing else to cut- believe me, there's more. one of the self help books call it the latte factor. you just have to find yours. maybe it's a donut factor...or a pepsi factor...or a starbucks factor. find yours and figure out if it's worth it to you to give it up...whether you give it up every day, every other day...or once a week.
when you add up the monthly expenses we were paying, plus the rough averages for money going out to lunches, gas, eating out, and the differences in bills here vs. zanesville....we "save" $2500 every month by changing our lifestyles to the above list. i say "save" because we gave up those things- but i also gave up my job which was roughly that same amount. we traded, so to speak. and if i must say, we got the better end of that deal.
i get to stay at home with my kids. that wins over every time.
my suggestion to you is start doing all or some of this *before* you begin your stay at home adventure. start saving real money. put it away and dont touch it until a real live emergency occurs that requires money that wasnt budgeted out in your monthly plan.
and like i said, we occasionally make mistakes. we over spend in areas where we shouldnt, but also, like i said- it takes discipline. it IS a lifestyle change....
but it IS worth it.