In November of 2012, I took the leap of faith and started a new career as a SAHM (stay at home mom). As much as I loved my job, I just could not shake the feeling that my heart was at home with the little Bean. Mom always said I liked to “jump and the net will appear.”
The question hung in my mind for over a year: How does one go from relying on two full time incomes to just one? Can it be done without downsizing our house? Can it be done without sacrificing the quality of food we eat? I came across tons if information, but it all boiled down to “if you want it badly enough, you’ll figure it out.”
How frustrating is that sort of advice? Super frustrating until you make it happen. Just in case you are wondering about that bit of magic that helped us reach our goal, here is what we did. It took a solid 8 months of work on our part, researching and phone calls and evaluating our wants vs needs to cut enough out of our spending to make this happen.
12 Money Saving Tips I used to Quit my job and Stay Home with my Kids
- Refinance your home and any rental properties if you can get a lower rate. We saved a few hundred dollars by doing this for our main home an a rental property under the(then new) FHA Streamline program.
- Consolidate insurance. Switched car insurance to the same as our home insurance to save money. Make sure your insurance for all property is with the same company!
- Paid off my grad school loans (good riddance!)
- Build an emergency fund. For us, this meant eating rice and beans for months and put the savings away to build our emergency fund. Boy were we glad to have it. Big stress reducer in those first months on one income!
- Utilize pre-tax savings for childcare and health. Took advantage of the FSA daycare allowance so that we essentially got pre-tax money back for what we paid in daycare costs.
- Energy savings. Put new windows in the house in 2011 to save on our heating/cooling costs, then paid off the loan on the windows while I was still working.
- Implement a monthly budget. I highly recommend the MINT app (I use it on my iPhone every day) to track where you are in each category. Otherwise I get a little wild with Amazon Prime.
- Use cash. We started paying for items in cash where we previously used our credit card. We still use the card for certain purchases (ie gas) but not having that giant bill each month has helped us be more conscious of where our money goes.
- Meal Planning. Every week we figure out what we will cook and the ingredients, then buy accordingly. I also used to tally up grocery costs in my head as I shopped to stay under budget (doable with one kid, not so much once you have a hoard of them).
- Bought a Costco membership (2017 edit: now that we have 3 kids eating a ton of food, we almost exclusively shop at Costco. And we eat Paleo. It helps big time)
- Find something you can do at home to make a little extra. I put my love of surfing and art to good use and began to create decorative wooden surfboards. I sold them on Etsy (www.surfpixie.etsy.com) until recently to make a bit of extra cash. Hopefully I’ll get back to it in a few years. But let me say that starting out it was not easy. My “side job” ate up every single evening of my spring and summer when Pippa was one. I dragged her downtown with me on numerous occasions trying to get a business license, to the hardware store for lumber, I cut wood during her naps, and drove to Fedex at 11pm some nights.
- Check your tax deductions with a single income. This is perhaps the BIGGEST item. The addition of a child (or two) plus the loss of my income meant we were in an entirely different tax bracket and saving a not-too-shabby amount of money. Not sure where you would fall? Try the IRS calculator or Your Money Page
Good luck! And I’d love to hear more ideas about what worked for you.