Branson is a stay at home mom who blogs at My Reflection of Something. She not only has the most adorable, eye catching blog around, but also a cute kid to boot. Branson does inspiring posts; ones that make you think about how you really feel about yourself, motherhood, and life in general. Be sure to visit her when you’re through reading her take on how she made it work to go from a full time job to staying at home.
When I realized I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, the idea seemed impossible. I looked at our finances, and thought there was no way we could make it work. Eventually, though, I just couldn’t spend another day trying to figure out how we could save up so that someday I could leave my job. So, I quit. Crazy? Maybe. Fortunately, I had some great support, and quickly found out that what had seemed impossible was not so hard.
Here are some of the things I have learned: The first thing I realized is that our lives were full of conveniences. Because we both worked full time, we wound up spending a lot of money on things that we wouldn’t necessarily need if I were staying home. While it looked like it would be a struggle to cut our income in half, once we actually did it the change was not as substantial. Here are some ways we save money to allow for me to stay home:
Menu Planning – This one is huge. When I realized how much we were spending on food it was quite a shock. I mean lunch alone for me and the hubs was $12/day usually. Add in energy drinks, the husband’s vending machine addiction, and the fact that I had not cooked a real meal since early in my pregnancy and you can only imagine what we were spending (not to mention the calories we were consuming!). By menu planning I have cut our grocery budget to $40-$60/week.
I cook from scratch a lot, and we have gone mostly vegetarian so that helps. I bake big batches of muffins and freeze them for breakfasts, make a huge pot of whatever dish my husband requests and divide it up for his lunches (for the days when he doesn’t just take leftovers), and dinners are all nutritious and usually provide extra to freeze for later. Then of course we also go to my Mom’s for dinner once a week, so the hubby gets at least one comfort food meal each week (for free! haha). There are tons of menu-planning resources out there. The first place I would go to start learning is I’m an Organizing Junkie.
Baby Food – So I am just going to tell you straight up that I could not breastfeed. I tried, it didn’t work. Let’s not go there. That meant adding formula to our budget, which I totally had not expected. I did the research. I use Parent’s Choice. Aiden is healthy. I really don’t want to have a formula conversation here, but I do want you to know that I do not use name brand because that is a difference of about $30/week.
What I really want to talk about here is the actual baby food. I started out buying those handy little jars. I quickly realized that it was not how I wanted to feed my child. It was expensive, there was a lot of waste because he did not really care for the food, and let’s be honest… it didn’t taste great (yes, I tasted each of them before feeding A). So I found this website , and spent three days in a kitchen that looked like a produce department exploded, and froze 3 month’s worth of food. Not only did it save me major money, but my son also eats foods his cousins have never heard of! Persimmons, eggplant, parsnips, etc., and not only that but he does not spit up like he did when eating the stuff in jars.
Resale Shops – It is no secret that I had a big shopping addiction that was intensified by the vast array of adorable baby items calling to me once Aiden was born! So, imagine my excitement when I could get the most adorable clothes and high quality baby gear for next to nothing! I am a total resale shop convert. And it doesn’t hurt that I don’t have to keep up a nice work wardrobe.
Entertainment – We did cancel our cable. I know not everyone is willing to do that, but I will say that it was a much smaller adjustment than we expected. This also meant we stopped buying our movies on demand, which really adds up at $4/movie! We don’t go out like we used to, but with an infant that is not hard to do. We prefer to stay home and have people come to us for board games and other free fun. It also saves a ton on gas, because before we were driving the 30 miles to “the city” several times a week. We also cancelled our gym memberships, and either walk with Aiden or use our collection of workout DVDs. All of these little things really add up!
There are lots of ways to make one income work, and these are just the ones that stand out to me that worked for us. Really, I think the important thing is to realize that it can be done if it is really important to you, and there are plenty of other moms out there who have done it and can lend support. I remember a moment in mid-January when I realized that I had been home for 3 months, and we had gotten through the holiday season of all things with no new debt and no less joy. It was an amazing revelation. It may not always be easy, but the time I have with my son is priceless and absolutely worth every little sacrifice.