Do you dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom but your family depends on your income? Your dream may not be impossible. It starts with a plan, a lot of self-compassion, and determination. I know from experience. Our most effective tool on our journey to a single-income family with an at-home parent started with a stay-at-home mom budget.
I’d like to show you how.
In 2014, I gave my notice at my job just a few weeks before having my second child. With only my husband’s income, we now had less than $2,000 per month to live on. That may sound impossible, but we spent years preparing for that day. It’s amazing how little income you can live on when you don’t have a car payment or student loan debts. It’s amazing how free you feel when you make such an empowering decision like staying home with your children. I
It’s amazing how little income you can live on when you don’t have a car payment or student loan debts. It’s amazing how free you feel when you make such an empowering decision like staying home with your children.
I wish that for you.
This list of steps will show you exactly how we beat the odds and successfully transitioned into a single-income family of four.
10 Steps to Create a Successful Stay-at-Home Mom Budget
Let me just say we stunk at budgeting before my husband and I got married. Like really stunk at it. I even worked as a teller and couldn’t keep my finances straight. I can laugh now, but it caused its share of anxiety in me at the time. I dreamed of staying home with my children someday, but our debts and sloppy spending made it felt unachievable then.
These 10 steps revolutionized so much more than our budget. It reshaped my mindset about money, my role in our marriage, how we communicate, and how we plan for the future. Check ’em out:
Take a financial snapshot.
Look at what you’ve been spending, how much you owe in debt, what you have in savings, and what you earn each month. It takes time, but this is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their finances.
Before you ever write another budget, make sure you’re aware of where your money is really going.
Calculate how much you NEED to live on each month.
This number is vital. It’s not how much you spend on cable or fast food or extra clothes for the kids. This is the total you need, absolutely need, each month to keep the lights on, put gas in the tank, and feed the family.
A great way to calculate that number is to add up your monthly bills. They’re typically a set amount. Then, include things you typically buy in a month like food and gas. This is the baseline for you to plan your stay-at-home mom budget. You know this much needs to come in. If you and your spouse currently bring in more than that, then let’s talk about some ideas for that extra money next.
Build up a buffer.
When you reduce your family income, it’s paramount to have an established savings account for unexpected expenses. Millions of families live paycheck to paycheck with no clear financial plan for the next blown transmission or trip to the ER. You can set yourself apart from that statistic. Choose an account today and commit to putting away $1,000 for emergencies only as fast as you can.
Eliminating as many monthly payments from your life as you can before you become a stay-at-home mom is huge. If you’re already home with the kids, it’s still as important as ever.
For example, my husband and I started applying more and more of my paycheck toward student loan debt. What we thought would take seven years took less than two. Intentionality will bring about big results in your life.
Meet regularly with your spouse or accountability partner.
While my husband and I were paying off extra toward debt and saving for emergencies, we met regularly to discuss our budget. We still do. It isn’t always easy, but carving out a 15-minute window once a month to make sure you’re on the same page will reduce your stress and set up your stay-at-home mom budget for success.
Need some help creating a budget? Here are several free downloadable budgeting forms.
Sleep on big financial decisions.
Give yourself a 24-hour window before you make any purchase more than a set dollar amount. This is especially important for houses, automobiles, furniture, and the like.
Leave room for fun.
Even though you’ll have less money in the budget once you’re a stay-at-home mom, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If it’s in your spending plan (and preferably not on a credit card), plan for fun outings or date nights or taking the children to the zoo. I even recommend a little fun money for you and your significant other to spend however you wish. A little freedom helps you life when finances tighten up.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
With social media, it’s almost impossible to not compare your life with others’. Remember this, though: It’s entirely possible they’re in debt up to their armpits and you don’t know it. Remember your reason for wanting to stay home. It may mean you have to live in a smaller house for a while, but the trade-off is more time with your kids.
Employ self-compassion when you fail.
You will fail. Your spouse will fail. Rather than give up and quit budgeting, give yourself some grace and try again. I’ve derailed more budgets than I can count. Working through that frustration and stress was like working a muscle. You will grow your abilities, too.
Focus on your behavior, not your numbers.
Ever read that quote about personal finance being 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge? It was true in my case. When I stopped chasing my credit score and started chasing a debt-free mindset, my account balance changed dramatically. What are some behaviors you can focus on that’ll help you establish a functional stay-at-home mom budget?
“What’s my next step?”
Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas on how to begin this journey. It’s meant to inspire and educate, but one blog post can only offer so much.
What I needed on my own journey toward staying home was a financial roadmap. Much of my husband’s and my experiences were trial and error (and more errors and some more errors). Beating the odds in 2014 lit a fire within me to help other women achieve this dream.
That’s why I created a companion eBook to this article called “The Stay-at-Home Mom Blueprint.” It’s packed with 150 ways to chop debt, save money, earn a side income from home, and implement a financial plan that WILL enable you to spend more time with your kids.
This eBook contains everything I wish I’d known when I started my journey, from surviving our first messy budget as newlyweds to figuring out coupons to earning my first $10,000 with my at-home writing business.
If this is your dream to spend more time at home, then I wrote this for you. Look, it’s not easy. We spent years making this transition without a guide like “The Stay-at-Home Mom Blueprint.” Even so, it was worth it. Your journey will be, too.
May this resource empower you to take these steps to achieve what matters most to you.
Ready to grab your copy? Find “The Stay-at-Home Mom Blueprint” available here.
What’s your number ONE hurdle that prevents you from spending more time at home? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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