I worked really hard through high school and college, staying at the library to study until it closed at midnight almost every weeknight. And I loved the job I had (and the people I worked with) for the five years between my college graduation and the birth of our little boy. I definitely loved those years in college and working outside of the home, but even while I was working so hard to graduate and move forward in my career, in the back of my mind, I was still focused on what I really wanted...to be a stay-at-home mom.
Luckily, my husband and I always agreed that we would prefer for me to stay home with our kids, as long as it was financially possible. So when we finally got that positive pregnancy test, I immediately gave my nine-month notice...at least, in our plans. I didn't actually give my notice at work until I was several months into my pregnancy and we had ruled out the possibility of me continuing the work I loved in a part-time role at home. Even though we both agreed that this is what we wanted for our family, it made our budget a little bit tight over the years. Transitioning from two incomes to one definitely meant we had to cut out some of the "extras" in our lives. Thankfully, things have always worked out. And a huge part of this is due to the fact that, because we didn't have our little boy for five years, I was able to work while my husband finished his bachelor's and master's degrees, and while he got a solid start in his own career. Especially since we both graduated from college in the middle of a recession. But that's another story. Since we recently decided to build a new house
, I've been thinking a lot
about our budget and our finances, especially because our house is going to end up costing more than we initially expected. And this means that our budget will be pretty tight for the first few months, just like it was when I first quit work to be a stay-at-home mom. So I've been thinking a lot about how I can contribute financially WITHOUT going back to work full-time and outside of our home. Here are a few of my thoughts:
Work from home
Okay, so this might not be the most innovative or creative idea, but it's obviously a great way for a stay-at-home mom to help earn a little money without going back to work full-time. I feel like there are more opportunities than ever for moms to work from home, and so many of my friends have a way they are helping to pay the bills. Some of the work-from-home jobs I've seen lately include blogging, photography, selling homemade projects and crafts online or through local craft fairs, and telephone customer service. I've recently started taking on a few extra projects to make a little extra money, and I've loved the chance to use my pre-baby education and work experience. I'm not going to lie. It's sometimes hard to find the time for these "extra" things on my to-do list, along with all of the other things I have to do every day (especially since my kiddo doesn't take naps anymore). But I've had so much fun finding myself again as I've turned my education and hobbies into a side income, even if it is usually really late at night.
Eliminate the extras
One of my husband's favorite things to do is eat out. And of course, this is also one of my favorite things to do, because it means I don't have to cook dinner. But it's also an easy way to quickly blow your budget. Most of our expenses (mortgage, utilities, insurance, even fuel) are fixed, but one way I can easily save money is by meal planning in advance and cooking dinner at home. This helps us avoid eating less healthy and expensive foods in a rush. By sticking to a meal plan and limiting how often you eat out, you can also avoid wasting money by throwing away expired food. We also try to avoid spending a ton of money on date nights and family vacations. We go fairly simple most of the time and only splurge occasionally...like those dreamy three days we spent at Disneyland earlier this year. Everybody's budget looks different, but I think we all have things we can cut to save a little money. I mean, my kid doesn't actually NEED all the toys we buy him. ;)
Just like meal planning can help avoid the unnecessary expenses of eating out and throwing out expired food, planning ahead can help you save money when you're facing unexpected expenses. I've mentioned before
that, because we knew I wanted to stay at home with our kids, we tried really hard to practice living on my husband's income alone. And even though we were far from perfect at this, using his income to pay for all of the necessary expenses definitely helped us be more aware of what our budget would look like when I quit working...and more capable of sticking to that budget when the time came. We also try really hard (even though we're far from perfect) to build up our savings account, so that we can pay for those unexpected expenses with cash instead of whipping out the credit cards and incurring interest. This is something we're really focusing on right now, as we wait for our new house to be built. We're living with family and trying so hard to save every extra penny we can, not only so we can have a big down payment on our new house, but so we can set aside extra money for a rainy day.
Our budget obviously doesn't look the same as it would if we were both working full-time, but it has definitely been the best decision for OUR family to have me at home. Even though this is something we've been focusing on a lot lately, I'm definitely not an expert in parenting or finances. So I'd love to hear your ideas, too! How do you save money and help pay the bills?
Featured Image PC: @brittanymaddux